Catching Your Eye

Catching Your Eye

30 June 2022

Led by:

  • Rachel Warr – a puppetry director and dramaturg. Warr is engaged in a number of cross discipline research projects. These include projects with surgical teams and clinicians comparing skillsets of medical doctors and puppeteers; with a bio-scientist and magician exploring ways of communicating embodied knowledge and a fashion designer on a runway show with 1.9-meter-tall puppets.
  • Will Houstoun – a Member of The Inner Magic Circle and winner of The European Magic Championships. He has a PhD in magic history as well as a Literary Fellowship from The Academy of Magical Arts in Los Angeles.
Intended learning outcomes (more on programme level):

Part of Marres’ Workshops ‘Training the Senses’.

Learning objectives (course specific):

Learn to guide focus and construct a narrative; learn about how we perceive the world and objects.

Objective statement:

Puppeteers and magicians are masters in directing your attention. They make you focus on one part of their performance and lose sight of the rest. This shows their skillful mastery of techniques, but also tells us something about our own way of perceiving.

In this session, we explore both angles. Puppetry director Rachel Warr and close-up magician Will Houstoun will share techniques they use to steer our perception and create illusions. In addition, we question the ways in which we focus and divide attention in relation to the outside world.

Type of course:

extracurricular course

Target group:

general audience

Teaching method:




  • After a short introduction by the presenters, Will Houstoun demonstrated a magic trick with coins.


  • The participants were taught to perform a magic trick using a standard thin hair band. Once the trick was learned, then Will demonstrated the importance of gaze, of directing attention using one’s gaze, and building a narrative or a story to go along with the magic trick. He mentioned how the performance could be enhanced by, for e.g., creating suspense by counting down before demonstrating the trick or getting the onlooker’s involved in the trick, such as giving them the rubber band to check that it is intact.
  • Rachel Warr demonstrated how an object can be brought to life by imposing a narrative onto it. She used a sheet raincoat tied with string to make it look like a puppet and she made it make certain human gestures to convey how easily we as humans project stories onto, in this case, objects. Afterwards, the participants were divided into groups of three and were given three large rolls of paper and were instructed to build a puppet using the rolls. First came the feet, then the spine and then the arms. An additional sheet of paper was balled up to make a head. The three member of each team got roles to hold on to either the right hand and head, the left hand and spine or the legs. They were encouraged to switch positions after a while as well. The participants were asked to bring the puppet to life by creating a small performance that the puppet would do.
Assessment of learning:




Additional biblio sources (available at Marres):