Sunday, January 31, 2010
These puppets are hideous, in a strangely endearing way. I use them in the few stage shows I perform. Usually my puppets come out in between stories, with no stage, and without their own story to perform, though one or two may play a part in a story. Every now and again, I perform Rumpelstiltskin, Jack and the Bookstalk, Bettina and the Beast, The Prince and the Pea and a few other slightly twisted versions of folktales with a stage. The stage is short, only about a foot tall, and it sits on a table. I'm completely visible and play the part of the narrator. My friend Judy Nichols was my inspiration for doing puppet shows this way.
Truth to tell, though I enjoy the stage shows, I find them a lot of work to prepare and set up. My usual storytelling with puppets requires one trip from the car, with a bag of puppets and the sound system. Stage shows require two or three trips and anxiety that I've left something crucial at home. A few years ago, for example, I left the stage itself at home! Fortunately, the library where I was performing had a stage I could use.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
Tristan and Iseult, A Medieval Classic
An epic tale of good luck, bad choices, giants, dragons, fools, betrayal and of course, Romance.
Some stories are meant to last. Tristan and Iseult was first written down between 1160-1190 by Beroul (French poet) and around 1173 by Thomas of Britain, originally from the oral tradition, probably from a Celtic tale.
Sir Thomas Malory folded this story into the Arthurian legend, in Le morte d’Arthur (1469). Many other versions have been written and told in various languages and styles, including Wagner’s opera Tristan und Isolde.
As a storyteller, I perform without notes or script, with only the images in my mind to prompt me. I use Le roman de Tristan et Iseut by Joseph Bédier (1864-1938) as my base; there is a nicely readable translation by Hilaire Belloc, The romance of Tristan and Iseult .
I have taken liberties: some scenes are omitted, others expanded, and there are slight anachronisms, all in the service of the story. Stories live and change in the process of telling.
Friday, January 15, 2010
In 2010, the summer reading theme in public libraries around the country is Make a Splash: Read! for younger kids, Make Waves at Your Library for young adults and Water Your Mind: Read for adults, with help from the Collaborative Summer Library Program.
Kids often ask how many puppets I have. I don't know, but I'd guess around 75, including those I let kids use. Some come out for a summer and then retreat to the puppet closet (yes, they have their own closet), some stay in the puppet bag forever, some make guest appearances from time to time.