WordPlay Puppetry Workshop. Sharing my knowledge with children
Today I began a new chapter in my adventure in puppetry by sharing my knowledge with children who are taking the WordPlay Puppetry Workshop this Autumn. I am teaching the first four weeks out of the eight-week program.
My focus this morning was to give the kids a 90-minute overview of puppetry. To begin, we talked about what a puppet is, and what it may be used for. The children all had great ideas and enjoyed the puppet head that I used as an example. I followed this by sharing some world puppetry history by talking about the many different styles of puppets and showing them several of the international puppets that I have acquired over the years.
Next, I had the children use Sesame Street toy puppets that were played with by my two kids when they were younger. I felt that by using a character that they were familiar with to ignite their imagination to create a character of their own design. From here we talked about using our voices to help bring the puppet to life for the audience, and the importance of not hurting our voices in the process. When the kids each tried making up new voices, we stretched out feet and talked about how to hold a puppet when performing, and the importance of making sure that the puppets eyes and head were properly pointed in the right direction, and not staring into space or looking at the floor. With this completed, we tried a bit of improv and singing a little bit. Throughout the morning I used a few of my own puppet characters to “help” me demonstrate what I was teaching the sic children enrolled in the class. I finished with having Coleman the Sasquatch sing my song “Things That I Dream”, which is about bedtime stories.
This opportunity to share what I have learned about puppetry with children at the WordPlay Puppetry Workshop is very special to me. It takes me back to the early 1970s when I was a young boy who was madly in love with puppets. My parents had enrolled me in a puppetry class at the Andover, Massachusetts YMCA. I was a bit outspoken as a boy and practically took over the class by writing what would become my first puppet story, “Snowy Baby and the Seven Hippies”. It’s funny how this part of my life has turned out.
Later in the day, I saw the mother of a boy who is in the workshop. She shared with me that he asked her where he could find an old sock, so he could make a puppet. That is nothing short of wonderful.