Watch this incredible footage of the tiger puppet from the Life of Pi. The puppet tiger (named "Richard Parker") made an appearance at a panel discussion featuring playright Lolita Chakrabarti, who adopted Yann Martel's best-selling novel for the stage. Also on the panel was Finn Caldwell, Puppet and Movement Director and Designer for the stage adaption.
The tiger puppet is absolutely amazing! Although the puppet is controlled by three puppeteers—one inside the costume, one leading the head movements and making growling noises and other sounds, and one in the rear moving the back legs and tail—when watching the tiger move through the audience, I was so entranced that I was easily able to forget the puppeteers were there.
Louisa Gregson, writing for Manchester World, describes the scene at the panel:
I am sat at The Lowry Theatre, at the launch of multi award production Life of Pi, listening to Finn Caldwell, Puppet and Movement Director and Designer talk passionately about the ways in which an audience can put their belief in a puppet being real – despite the obvious presence of the pupeteers.
It's an interesting concept, and unbeknown to me, one I am about to put to the test…..
"By playing a part in that game you are taking part in the creation of that creature and therefore you are emotionally connected to it – that's the idea, at least," he continues.
"In terms of making the puppeteers disappear, by looking at the puppet, they are sending your focus away from them and to the puppet, so every time you see those puppeteers which are fully visible to you, you are sending your focus to them but they are bouncing that focus back on to the puppet."
As I am letting these words sink in, there is a sudden hissing sound from behind me. I turn round and what looks like a huge Bengal tiger – the star of the show, Richard Parker, is pacing, slowly and powerfully into the room sniffing at the air and growling menacingly.
Life of Pi premiered in June 2019 in Sheffield before its residency in London's West End. It will be on Broadway June 20-September 3, 2023 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater:
Life of Pi is now the 3-time Tony Award®-winning play and the epic tale of adventure NYC has been waiting for. This Olivier Award-winning West End hit is "an exhilarating evening of theater" (The Wall Street Journal) and "gives new life to Broadway" (The Today Show). After a shipwreck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi survives on a lifeboat with four companions— a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Royal Bengal tiger. A truly remarkable story unfolds of hope, faith, and perseverance that speaks to every generation. Told through incomparable puppetry and exquisite stagecraft, Life of Pi creates a visually breathtaking journey that will leave you filled with awe and joy. Get your tickets now to this thrilling new production that "will make you believe in the power of theater" (The Times of London).
The show will also be touring the UK and Ireland, beginning August 28, 2023.