David, an educator, puppeteer, and Guild member since 1961, is one of the most widely published authors on Puppet Theatre in the English language in the past 50 years. His first exploration with puppetry as a child was creating short plays with a few manufactured glove puppets, but his enthusiasm for Puppet Theatre gathered momentum at age 14 year when he saw the marionettes of Guild member, Gordon Staight. An invitation to see how they were made resulted in weekly workshops with Gordon, making 24-inch marionettes, and assisting with his shows.
Initially, David concentrated on construction, until Gordon offered to include his first two puppets in a performance at a nearby school. David describes this initiation as ‘dolly-waggling’. After, he gave much more thought to the content of his work. By his 16th birthday he had created enough marionettes for a short variety/circus-style show with traditional acts that often contained an element of surprise. He made an open-style stage, borrowed a tape recorder for background music and started performing, assisted by friends. As his marionette troupe grew, his shows lengthened and bookings increased for parties, community groups and charities.
He also adapted the performances to include adult audiences and introduced larger marionettes, but the demand never matched the bookings for children’s shows.
As a student teacher in London, he discovered a wider range of puppet theatre, explored other types of puppet, and gained experience in a school where the headmistress was committed to education through the arts and where he held his first teaching post.
Having realised the potential of puppets in education, he introduced puppetry in each of his teaching practice schools and a tiny snippet from his student dissertation became his first book.
In the five years after qualifying, David served as teacher, deputy head and head teacher in London primary schools before becoming lecturer in education at Froebel College, Roehampton University. During this period, he gained a degree in Psychology, wrote The Complete Book of Puppetry, (later revised as The Complete Book of Puppet Theatre), and served on the Councils of the Guild, UNIMA and the Educational Puppetry Association.
In 1974 he became Chairman of the newly established Puppet Centre Trust where, for many years, with Maurice Stewart, he ran weekly courses in puppet construction and performance, and weekend courses on a range of topics.
David’s performing gradually gave way to many requests for educational courses and workshops, including residential courses with HMI for teachers of children with special needs, Erasmus exchange programmes (using puppets) with students in London, the Netherlands and Belgium, and presentations throughout Europe for the European Council of International Schools. At Roehampton University, David contributed puppetry elements to undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the Faculties of Arts and Education. These varied experiences have fed into his writing, through which he aims to preserve traditional crafts and techniques as well as encouraging experimentation and innovation.
Books by David Currell:
Shadow Puppets and Shadow Play (2007) The Crowood Press *
Making and Manipulating Marionettes (2004) The Crowood Press
Puppets and Puppet Theatre (1999) The Crowood Press *
An Introduction to Puppets and Puppet Making (1992) Quintet Publishing
The Complete Book of Puppet Theatre (1985) A & C Black, London/Barnes & Noble, USA
Learning with Puppets (1980) Ward Lock Educational, London/Plays Inc., USA
The Complete Book of Puppetry (1974) Pitman Publishing/Plays Inc., USA
Puppetry in the Primary School (1969) Batsford, London/Branford, USA
*Currently in print