File puptcrit/puptcrit.0811, message 482

To: <>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2008 01:26:54 -0500
Subject: [Puptcrit] Love of the stage

Hi all.
I had a puppeteering gig earlier tonight and it was a blast!

I wonder what makes a stage performing experience so thrilling, energizing, 
motivating, inspiring, and overall satisfying, like nothing else?
Care to share your takes on it?

Mine are:
-People's acceptance or other positive judgement, even if only for the 
duration of a show, is powerful and honest. You feel it when they don't 

-Energy seems to flow between audience and performers, making it more than 
the sum of both.
Peter Balkwill (of the Old Trout puppet Workshop) spoke about the energy 
flow during a puppet workshop I took with him in 2007.

I remember him saying something about when a person forgets a line or a 
move, the energy flow is stopped, and the circuit being interrupted, makes 
everyone feel bad, until it is restored.
I think I understand it a lot better now.

-the risk of messing it all up in front of so many people and yet the chance 
of succeeding against all that, must bring a lot of thrill!

-I think sharing has a lot to do with how great everyone can feel during and 
after a show.

-It can be negative too, when a show goes bad, it can get really bad.

Background (aka: the Parrot's Debut)
I built a parrot puppet (in the spare time I didn't have last week), and I 
charged the event for the rental of the puppet and my puppeteering salary.
It was a great opportunity, because I really wanted a parrot puppet for my 
own puppet menagerie, and more stage experience.

I was puppeteering the parrot for the Pirate host of the evening.
The crowd responded really well to him.  The complicity with the host was 
instantaneous, and we had a lot of fun. The charcater was comical, and it 
worked. I've never been good at telling jokes on purpose, unless I was 
imitating a good joke teller who said it to me first. But my parrot puppet 
seems to "have it", that punchline and quick witted responses.
How come???

Some small bugs are still in need of fixing on that puppet, but it did the 
job really well, and I learned a lot I wouldn't have if I were just wiggling 
it around in my worskshop. Logistics of moving a rod and mouth puppet on a 
stage that wasn't designed for it, are rather hard to imagine without 
trying. A bird perch I was promised wasn't built, so the parrot had to stand 
on a flat commode.  Thankfully, I planned ahead and made the feet posable, 
which helped, but the parrot feet (fleexe covered) had a tendency to slide 
on the polished wood...
I'll build a perch then, for future gigs.

One time, in order to avoid jumping over set pieces to get into the 
audience, I improvised an exit backstage, kept my puppet character's voice 
alive (wireless mike) and accessed the audience through the side doors.
Next gig of this sort I get, I'll insist on trying the puppet in the actual 
set well before the show.
Tonight this couldn't be done, due to the logistics of a roaming event 
without a set venue, and me running straight from another gig.

I was lucky enough to be spared the puppeteering hood, at the last minute. 
It was in most part thanks to the host, she backed me up with good 
arguments.  I had made a hood as planned, but it was rather ugly, shape-wise 
(fabric hanging from the rim, cap showing atop it, weird beak-like 
 I really need to see a picture of the baseball cap and fabric suggestion I 
received here on Puptcrit.

We received the final texts on the same day, but multiple versions. So there 
was no way to memorize the final lines properly. I can barely believe it, 
but that kind of brought a bit more thrill to the experience.
Some introductory parts were missing for some of the perfomers (their own 
omissions). So we improvised a whole lot, and wow, what fun stuff we came up 
with backstage between dance numbers, and even more while on stage. The 
audience was into it, I was amazed at how well it went, considering my 
apprehensions. It had been a year since my last stage performance. I 
completely beat stagefright many years ago, but it doesn't mean I don't get 
a little worried about my abilities once in a while.  Tonight I was worried 
about all the improvising and some of the directions, but it went rather 
smoothly. A few small hickups in movements when the parrot was on the 
pirate' arm or shoulder, but all due to the fact we hadn't rehearsed our 
interactions. It quickly became easy.

I thank goodness for puppet-induced split personalities, and for stage 
managers backstage!
I'd love to do such gigs again, and work with that host again. She was a 
true profesionnal, and a fun blast to work with. I've rarely seen someone so 
flexible and understanding in front of chaotic circumstances.
She treated me like a fully qualified and equal colleague, despite her many 
more years of experience as a host and performer. We came up with ideas 
together. I find that refreshing!  She was already a huge fan of puppets, so 
that must have helped.

It took a while for my parrot to be annoying enough to her that she could 
bare to be a bit harsh with him on stage, as her pirate character required. 
We played with that a lot on stage. The hosting bits turned into its own 
storyline, where parrot and pirate get into a big fight, separate (parrot 
gets an audience member to adopt him), and get back together, best pals 

I'll have time to take pics of the puppet in about two weeks.
Then I'll post them online.

List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005