Puppets and Theater

Puppetry is another way of visual storytelling, and combines so many art forms to make something unique. I’ve worked with puppets all my life, and lately have been experimenting with moving panoramas, or “crankies”. Here are some of my projects involving puppets and theater over the years.

Puppet Theater ©2018 by John Lechner

Above is my latest work in progress, a puppet show using paper puppets and scrolling scenery, that all fits into a suitcase.


Endymion Crankie by John Lechner

This is a scrolling crankie based on a section of the poem “Endymion” by Keats. In a live performance, I recited the poem while turning the scroll to reveal the watercolor illustrations, with recorded music that I wrote. (Learn more.)


Shadow Puppets by John Lechner

This is a shadow puppet show based on an original story about an ant who becomes dissatisfied with his lot in life. The background was drawn on a vertical scroll of paper, so it could move up and down to change the scenery.


Sticky Burr Puppets by John Lechner

This is a paper theater based on my books about Sticky Burr and his friends. The puppets are controlled from above with sticks, inspired by the tradition of toy theater from the 19th century. The background is painted on a scroll of paper, so it can move sideways to change the scene.


The Brave Fiddler by John Lechner

“The Brave Fiddler” is a scrolling story I created in the tradition of “moving panoramas” from the 19th century.  The story is painted on a scroll of paper, thirty feet long. To perform this piece on stage, I stand behind it and turn the crank as I tell the story, occasionally stopping to play the violin.


This is an earlier experiment in scrolling stories, made entirely of paper. It was designed and created in about an hour, using paper, tape, and markers. (I recorded the music afterwards.)


Giant Dragon Puppet

This is a giant dragon puppet that I designed and built with members of the Boston Area Guild of Puppetry. It was designed for use in a parade, the head is built from cardboard covered with paper mache. My friend Margaret Moody designed the body.


Puppets by John Lechner

These are hand puppets that I made from paper mache, shortly after college, which I performed with for many years. The story involved a monkey being chased by a pirate, and befriending a young boy.

* * *