A letter from Entertainers Camp
On a cold gray morning this past winter I received a phone call from ventriloquist Bob Abdou. I had met Bob a few times at puppet guild gatherings, and kept in touch with him via Facebook. Not only do Bob and I love puppets, we share interests in The Beatles, and 1960’s pop culture (Bob’s just a few years older than me). During the phone call he asked if I would come to Columbus and give an informative talk about puppetry for about 30 minutes at the Entertainers Camp that he was organizing. Is that all? I could yack about puppets for days, and often do. Then he informed me that the day would end with a pie fight! I was sold. I told Bob to sign me up for Entertainers Camp!
What is Entertainers Camp? It’s a relaxed day of sharing experiences and information in what Bob refers to as “the variety arts”. It’s meeting entertainers who bring happiness to people of all ages through clowning, balloon art, comedy juggling, face painting, magic, story-telling, ventriloquism, and of course puppetry. It’s about having good, (mostly) clean, fun!
Over the Winter and into Spring I scribbled down notes to knock my words into an informal speech to inspire the audience to pick up a puppet and start their journey as a performer. I do not claim to be a puppetry expert, I only hope to inform others with the knowledge that I have gained from my own experiences.
When the day of the event arrived, I got up very early. Brewed an extra strong pot of coffee, and pointed the Wump Mucket mobile towards the capitol of Ohio… thank goodness for Doctor Who audio books (and auto pilot).
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day. I did know that a few puppeteers that I know “electronically” would be there, and the chance to shake hands, give a friendly hug, and spend time together was a big enough thrill. I am very pleased that I had the wonderful opportunity to meet many great entertainers. If that wasn’t enough, I had the opportunity to get silly and perform a puppet lip-sync with young puppeteer Frank Cesario. Remember his name, this guy is going to be a star!
As the lead off speaker for the day, I had the job of getting the day of to a good start. If there was one running theme of my talk, it was my closing sentence, “share the knowledge, spread the joy.” Of course I brought Cyril to sing a little to the audience, and have them shouting “Puppets ROCK!” at the end of my lecture. Several “campers” came up to me afterwards to thank me for my suggestions and sharing the information that I have acquired during my time as a performing puppeteer. Which makes me very happy, sharing what I have learned about puppetry with others.
The day will always be a very happy memory for me. Not only did I get to yack about puppetry, I was able to listen to other entertainers and learn from their experiences and talents. Thanks for inviting me Bob, I hope you’ll have me back to camp next year.