In Defence of Puppetry

I think it’s about time that I lived up to a claim I made in one of my earliest blog posts. I said that I was a puppetry enthusiast (true) and that there would be some blog posts focusing on this (so far not very true). You’ll be glad to know, I am now about to rectify this!

Image result for copy-right free images pelham marionette
I was given this horse puppet when I was nine. This Christmas gift started a lifelong love of puppetry, and will feature in my puppetry club’s Christmas performance in a few weeks.

 

Of course, this is a blog about writing – writing for children in particular. I have written a range of novel manuscripts for kids, as well as a fistful of short stories. But what about drama?

 

After all, I was a puppeteer for several years, and my current job is working as a drama teacher. Let’s not dismiss writing drama for children!

It was scripting my own plays for my puppetry business that truly re-ignited my love of writing. I plan to make some sort of foray into playwriting for a young audience  at some point in the future (I already regularly write plays for the classes I teach, based on their ideas). But let’s keep it manageable, shall we? Here are some reasons why puppetry just makes sense!

A dragon just like this one was my best junk-shop find ever – in bits but miraculously complete. A bit of string-induced trauma followed, but he, too is fully functioning now and will appear in the Christmas show.

 

In defence of puppetry:

  1. There is something amazingly different and attractive about a skill that feels traditional. Surrounded by so much digital slickness, there is a lot to be said for a live experience, however ropey.
  2. Puppetry is a brilliant confidence-builder for reluctant performers. You’re not on show! The focus is on the puppets. I guarantee it – the kids won’t even see you.
  3. If performing behind a screen or in a booth, what’s to stop you having the script taped up where you can see it? Not having to memorise takes a lot of stress out of a performance.
  4. Less tech = less can go wrong.
  5. And my favourite reason – puppetry is theatre in miniature. I’m no talented artist, but I love creating props and backdrops. I’m no professional musician, but I enjoy playing fiddle at the start and end of performances. I’m not the world’s most confident actress, but hide me behind a puppet, and I’m amazed at who I can become! I’m not a published novelist (…yet, I hope…), but writing a puppetry play is quick and satisfying work. You can test its effect on a young audience with relative ease and your writing prompts are the puppets you have to hand. What could happen to them? What crises could they face? How can they be adapted to fit into your ideas? How can your ideas be adapted to fit with them?
  6. Puppetry is an instant party for a kid you know. Write them into a play and they’ll remember it forever.

So why not give it a try? Rummage in your attics and beg and borrow from friends. Buy or make, stitch or tape: organise yourself some sort of puppet cast.

Then go and write them a world. Image result for clip art writing

Isn’t that what we love doing?

 

I’ll be posting a couple of seasonal scripts in the days to come. Feel free to have a go with some young volunteers or on your own. I’d love to hear any comments!

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