File puptcrit/puptcrit.0904, message 218

To: <>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 2009 12:39:33 -0500
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] High School puppet shows

Interesting thread. I think there's a number of reasons, but primarily it's 
a matter of economics--who's funding the show? That's where a lot of the 
comments about adult "perceptions" feeding into "theories" about adolescent 
"wants" and "needs" occurs. Also, locale might play in (whether a small town 
with close ties to a library system, or a parochial school with more 

>From my perspective, having three grown kids (19, 25, and 28) I've noticed 
some interesting dynamics amongst that middle school/high school group. They 
love puppets. Not just my progeny, but their friends. It's a matter of 
setting. My daughter, 19 and in college, isn't "gushy" over puppets nor 
would she go out of her way to see a puppet show (probably she performed in 
her fill when she was younger, hoho). But invariably , from middle school 
on, she would take any new friends down to the workshop and puppet room to 
see the walls of puppet characters. In fact, if she didn't they would ask 
her to show them around because other friends thought it was cool and asked 
for repeat "tours".

At the same time, though, they run into that adult "perception" of puppets 
being kid stuff, which then becomes off putting. And, for the most part, 
there aren't enough venues which present material, whether serious or 
humorous, that engages them enough to want to venture into performance for 
peers, at least by the time they get to high school. My two older sons used 
puppets in middle school for video presentations of projects when they could 
(one even producing a Science Day presentation on Stephen Hawkings). There's 
material out there, even performers and theaters. Which comes first, 
perception or economics?

I'm not so sure that the "rejection" to which Greg refers is mediated by 
their own development, or if it's more due to what "grown ups" deem 
important or markers of "adulthood".

Think about it. How many books, short stories, movies, plays, rehab programs 
have as a theme the tension between the "stoic" adult personna and the 
suffocated, playful "child" that needs to be released for a healthy balance?

But, to return to the question, why no high school shows, some adult has to 
see it as worthy of underwriting.

My two rambling cents,
Wayne Krefting

From: "Gregory Ballora" <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 10:39 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] High School puppet shows

>> He also said something that really struck me...that we have no problem
>> getting children to our productions and even getting adults to our
>> productions but we sort of kiss our audience good bye between
>> middle school
>> and college....why?
> Personal theory here, with little to really back it up, but let's see
> what y'all think. Kids like being kids, and enjoy puppets as they
> are. Adults often want to return to childhood, and so will go see
> puppets, and then are happy to discover that they can be far more
> that cut out rabbits on sticks bouncing around to music (you know
> what I mean I hope). But in Middle school and High School, kids are
> trying to figure out what it is to be an adult, and to fit into that
> picture. For them, that means rejecting what they were before-
> childlike. Here, puppets are still initially seen as childlike, since
> most people really haven't seen anything else.
> The very first live shows that I was paid to do, back in my college
> days, were for the middle school audience. Apart from learning
> puppetry, we were at a Jewish Camp, and the show was for Yom
> Ha'atzmaut (sp?) or Israel Independence Day. Not being jewish, I was
> also learning a different culture, some Hebrew, a new
> religion...Confronting.
> The puppeteer I was working with at the time, Len Levitt, dealt with
> this audience very well. To get over the fact that most of the kids
> thought puppets were going to be stupid, We made sure that they were.
> We started the show with a large headed character (These were all
> original Muppet style puppets) pompously entered an went on a long
> speech about how we had spared no expense to bring them a masterpiece
> of puppetry art. I would then bring up a bad, hand drawn back drop,
> and as the audience started to think they really were going to hate
> this show, a large googly-eyed monster would burst through the
> backdrop and eat it. As the narrator tried to continue, the monster
> would slowly eat all the features off his face, and finally tear his
> head off--something that I suspect the middle schoolers wanted to do
> themselves. From there, we had a character that was just as doubting
> and sarcastic as the audience, but who did get the message as the
> show progressed.
> Apart from those days, I am kind of in Grego's camp. I can out-
> wrestle the kids, and I can usually out run the adults. With MS and
> HS, it is too close to call.
> Greg but no O
> On Apr 15, 2009, at 6:29 AM, Ann Legunn wrote:
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