With feeling 's work in Romania began with teaching drama as part of a Christ's Hospital Project in Slobozia. Here we realised the distinct benefit of imagination it's progression to creativity. This lead to the development of teaching using puppetry.

With Feeling first started working with puppets in 2004 in Slobozia - simple one and two person operated rod puppets made on site by the workshop team from locally sourced materials. At project close all puppets and unused materials were given to the placement centre staff for further use.

In 2005 puppets were once again created on site. These were used for the simple progressive games to introduce our newly designed one and two person puppets. Our work with Marcus Hall Props ensured that the principles explored previously were taken into consideration.

With the evident success of this work with feeling were asked to create a teaching program for the National Strategy for Community Action. This has been designed to be used by teachers and high school students across Romania .

In 2006 with feeling re-visited the children from 2005 with new and exciting idea's to build on previous work and to stretch these children further. This ever growing experience is being used to create a series of teaching conferences to be used in the expansion of the National Strategy.

Why puppetry?

Creativity and Imagination
Puppetry is an ideal medium through which people of all ages can express creativity and imagination. It is important to gain an understanding of both of these notions in order to best facilitate there expression.

Imagination - The ability to manipulate past experiences to form new ideas

Creativity - The expression of imagination

Creativity improves imagination by increasing ones ability to manipulate representations. A representation is the memory of past experiences with an object and how it can be adapted to any given situation. Representations through development and experience give rise to what we all refer to as imagination.

When working with both creativity and imagination both are improved enormously. Through creativity, imagination is developed further. With a greater imagination creativity becomes more complex.

Using puppets for performance has huge benefits especially when working with people in need of care.

Puppets as inanimate objects

They are designed to be very simple. It is clear for both the audience and the puppeteer to see what the puppet physically is, for example a bottle and stick. In order for these objects to come alive the puppeteer must inject a great deal of imagination.

Simple puppets force the puppeteer to use imagination and creativity rather than the puppet to entertain.

Puppetry for social awareness

When one first starts to play with a puppet the experience should revolve around the individual. As children we all begin to play in isolation. As we play we imitate previous experiences, as we develop these imitations are manipulated creatively and applied to an audience to gain an insight into reactions. The interpretation of these reactions is the basis of social awareness.

After having learnt to manipulate the puppet it can then be used to entertain an audience.

Puppets build confidence

When a person is able to use a puppet to entertain and express ideas they will want to share these with other people. It is important that the size of the audience is small to begin with so the puppeteer can gain insight into reactions. The puppeteer will learn which actions provoke a positive reaction and which do not. As the puppeteer learns they will then want to share the experience with larger audiences.

Positive reactions to their performance will inspire confidence.

Puppets are unique tools for working with those who lack self confidence it allows for the use and development of meta-communication. In this instance play acts as a safe environment from which social reaction can be gauged. The puppeteer is far less exposed to an audience because any performance does not come directly from the individual. It is the puppet that is acting not the puppeteer.

Playing with puppet’s
The importance of play is often overlooked. As humans we all require positive stimulation. Through play we are able to raise our arousal levels both physiologically and psychologically. In doing so we are able to fulfil the instinctive desires that must be satisfied for personal well being.
Playing with puppets is fun.
Not all play however is stimulus seeking - consider sitting quietly playing with a puppet. Here the emphasis of play tends to be based more around learning new skills. These skills can be physical, mental or social. Here it is also likely that an individual may communicate previously unexpressed ideas.

Moving Puppets
The skills required to manipulate a puppet vary greatly depending on its type and its action. This allows room for a puppeteer to slowly progress through a range of puppets gradually acquiring an increased range of skills and develop old ones in new situations. Introducing puppetry to an individual with a simple puppet such as a bird builds a firm foundation for future progression.

Making Puppets
The process of making the puppets used in performance is one which encourages the children not only to develop manual skills but also to develop creativity. They are also able to gain a sense of ownership, pride and responsibility.
With proof of efficacy an ideal situation would see puppetry being integrated in to the mainstream treatment of autism. Beyond the development of simple puppets which have been designed specifically for this purpose, programs designed for individuals and being both progressive and fun should be produced