Sunday, February 8, 2009

Here's What the Plumbing is for

Puppet stages!

These are simple screen stages. The puppeteer kneels (or stands if he/she's a little person) or sits behind the screen and the puppets use the top of the screen as their "floor." Simple to build, easy to take apart and store in a bag, and useful for multiple applications. The one above is a floor model...

....and this one if for tabletop or floor. We have one more, even smaller stage in progress, which will also be for tabletop use. Or for little people on the floor. The curtains need to be hemmed so they're not hanging on the frames properly yet.

The stages will help these guys get out of the closet!

One of the library programs I am offering this summer is Create a Story, Create a Puppet. First we'll tell a story or two with puppets; then using my puppets and the screen stages, children can make up a story to act out. They can use a folktale too, of course. The idea is imaginative play. The second part of the program is making wooden spoon puppets or finger puppets to take home and let the fun continue.

I have a lot of puppets--probably 50 or more, not counting the finger puppets, and I am always looking for more because I find that puppets and storytelling are a natural fit with children. The puppets touch that part of a child's brain that allows the imagination free rein. The story touches their mental imaging abilities and language development. Combine the two and it's dynamite.

Another reason for the screen stages is a grant program I am working on with my local library. The library wants to develop a teen puppetry troupe; I ran one for 7 years at my branch library and it is still in existence today, 12 years after its start. I will be offering 4 workshops for the teens, teaching them manipulation of glove puppets, puppet characterization and voice, and script/story selection and development. After the four workshops, they will be on their own with the very capable library staffer who will be in charge of the program.

Part of the grant covers the purchase a a starter collection of puppets and a stage. My screen stages can be used for practice until the big stage arrives.

Next step for me is to get all the curtains sewed--a hand project since I gave away my sewing machine. With only straight hems to sew it should not be too difficult. I also have get the manual ready for the teens--it's mostly complete, only needing to be revised from storytelling with puppets to using puppets on stage. The basis of voice, manipulation, characterization are the same. I also have a collection of short, easy puppet scripts I wrote for my library, and some of them will be included in the manual.

So that's what the plumbing and fabric is for! You had some very creative ideas, and some of them very close to the truth.


Carol said...

Here in OK, Native American storytelling is endemic to everyday life. I am sending a link to your website to all my friends who are storytellers in this area. Thanks for the all the info you provide.

Susan said...

Beautiful! When I was a librarian, the storytelling with puppets was by far the best hour of the day. Good luck with everything, and congratulations to all the soon-to-be-uncloseted puppets!

PriscillaHowe said...

The first time I built a puppet stage like that, I felt like i was playing with giant Tinkertoys in the hardware store, as I decided which fittings I needed. Very fun!

I don't know why I hadn't thought to take my stage to my upcoming puppet workshops with kids--usually I tip a long table on its side, but it would be safer to take the stage. Sometimes I need the obvious pointed out.

Granny Sue said...

Thank you, Carol. I hope your friends will be able to use the information on my blog.

I have been using puppets with storytelling since my first story, told to preschoolers in 1995 or so. I enjoy the way children connect with the puppet--adults do too, as anyone who's seen Walter the vent puppet on the night shows like Jay Leno, etc. Usually, I use the puppets to help tell a story, often inviting children to use the puppets in the story with me.

These two new ventures will be different for me as far as storytelling go, but hark back to my days doing library storytimes. I have wanted a portable stage for years--these pipe stages will be portable and useful for many purposes. I have a long canvas bag (I think a porch umbrella came in it) that is perfect for trasnporting the poles. Having mutliple stages allows more children to play with the puppets they make behind the stages. I did something similar a few3 years ago, using folding project boards for stages--not as satisfactory because they tipped over too easily. For about $30 worth of pipes and fittings and the same in fabric, I have three pretty durable stages.

City Mouse said...

Neato! Takes me right back! When I was a kid, a puppet group I as in had a stage made out of big PVS, probably three inch. I always though it was ingenious. Cool!

Juli said...

I used to do something similar for Nik when he was little :)

To capture a childs attention and enrapture them with knowledge is the greates gift anyone can be given.

((((((((((story tellers )))))))))))

bayouwoman said...

You continue to amaze and impress me, Sue. Maybe I will have the pleasure of meeting you one day in your home in the hills full of treasures!

Granny Sue said...

Now wouldn't that be fun, BW? We'd have to take you fishing here--a little different from where you are.

And I'd like to see your area too, especially since LA is part of my heritage.

Jaime said...

LOL! I think you gave the sewing machine to me. Our library uses this same method with the pvc pipes. They did a puppet show for a Title I project this year. I thought to myself, "What a good idea". It makes it so much easier to transport.

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