Friday, October 20, 2006

New puppets!

I didn't mean to do it. I didn't mean to buy that ballerina puppet last week. Really. I thought I might look at the baby puppet at the toy store again, and possibly, just possibly buy it. Not the ballerina.

But she leapt onto my hand and that was it. I didn't know what her voice was until I was driving home. We had quite a chat in the car. Her name is Pirouette, and she is French and Senegalese. I've never had a hand and rod puppet before, so I'm learning just how flexible she is, in her little toe shoes and tutu. Like so many of my puppets, she has a giant ego and isn't afraid to flaunt it.

Then on Saturday, my friend Stacey's daughter Molly had a present for me. Molly is 9 and has been a groupie for years (Stacey says "stalker" is more appropriate). The present was the very baby puppet I had considered in the toy store! In the store, she didn't fit me right, but as a present from Molly, she's perfect. Molly bought this puppet with her own money because she likes my puppets, but then she realized that in the end, it was still her own hand (only slight pun intended). It wasn't satisfying.

Puppets are funny. I don't plan what they say or how they say it. I don't know how to describe what happens--they just take on lives of their own. This baby, for example, is a tough cookie. I'm hoping she'll stop sounding quite so much like George Burns. She already looks like him. The other day I was showing her to a friend, and somehow the baby got hold of a pretzel stick (the fat kind) and then she really looked like George Burns chomping a cigar. Weird.

My sister Mary has promised me another new puppet, a black crow made by Folkmanis. I've tried one of these out before and they're lovely. She got him on a trip and mailed him home with some other stuff. I'm looking forward to meeting him and finding out what his character is.

One of the issues I have with puppets is keeping the voices distinct. Mavis the monkey sounds too much like Stephanie, so I try not to have them both in the same program. Confusing. The ballerina is a bit like my dragon puppet Belle, but Pirouette's French accent is a little slower, a little deeper. I don't expect them to attend the same events.

A couple of weeks ago I saw a puppeteer who used his own voice for all his characters. He also didn't understand that the puppet needs to make eye contact with the audience when it's speaking. It was terrible. Who was talking?


Anonymous said...

Puppets ahoy! Once, you met somebody who was shocked at the introduction of puppets into performance. It goes to show that one expert's judgement may not be another's. But don't be ruled by these unruly types - they could gang up on you, and then what? I bet pirouette has a giant ego, as a prima ballerina - or is she a ballerina manque?

Martha said...

Hazel sends greetings to her doppel-ganger Trixie, who she hopes to meet (and harass) some day. Her new compatriot, Dr. Moody, has attempted to psycho-analyze her with no success. He says it's like her brain is full of fiber-fill.


PriscillaHowe said...

Hmph. Fiber-fill, indeed. Fie. That's not fiber-fill, that's my hand! This summer at the Smoky Hill River Festival, in 100 degree heat, my puppets kept complaining that their heads were so hot they were going to explode.