Tuesday, November 6, 2007

More about Puppets: Choosing a Story

Telling with a puppet can enhance the story experience for listeners. But not all stories are suited to this type of storytelling. Some stories have too many characters and complex plot twists to be effectively told with puppets.

Showing a helper how to give her puppet a "floor"

The best stories for use with puppets are those with simple, straight plot lines, few characters, and opportunities for puppet movement. Fables and nursery rhymes are often excellent candidates for puppet stories.

Telling tales with my favorite raccoon puppet. This puppet is so expressive and workable--he can run, cry, wave, rub his eyes, wash his face and hands, jump--all sort of things.

Choose a story:
*That you like. Don’t try to tell a story that does not appeal to you simply because you might be able to use a puppet in the telling. The audience will sense your disinterest in the story.

*With a limited number of characters. Keeping characters straight is difficult enough without adding puppets to the telling!

*With a strong central character that can be played by your puppet. It is possible, with experience, to tell a story with two main characters, but preferable when starting out to have only one. Keeping voices and personalities separated can be a challenge even for an experienced puppeteer.

*That is fairly short. Puppet stories generally should be short—your arm will tire on a longer story, and maintaining the illusion of the puppet as a real live being gets more difficult as the story lengthens. Some puppeteers do tell long stories with puppets, but if you are a beginner, select stories less than ten minutes in length. You will be more successful and satisfied; once you have mastered the skills needed for short stories, you may want to move on to longer tales.

James and Michaela playing with puppets and props. I have no idea what story this might be--definitely it was one that involved chickens, kings and queens, and a ghost! Puppets encourage imaginative play, and on a rainy day at Granny's house (where there is no television or DVD player) a closetful of puppets come in handy.

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