Sunday, 22 March 2015

Three reasons why adults should play with puppets.

If you have ever had the opportunity to play with a puppet, you will understand what I mean when I say that puppets are good for you. Something interesting happens with your brain, that allows you to express yourself in a different way. If you have five minutes to try a quick experiment, I'd love to hear how it goes:

Pick up a puppet if you have one. If not, use a sock, piece of material over your hand, draw one on paper, use a toy - most inanimate objects can work. Look at it and allow an idea of character to come to you. Then just move it around. Give it a voice if you feel like it. Give it a particular word or movement that expresses the puppet. Try showing it to someone else and see how the puppet naturally interacts.

I first tried this at a large conference. My idea was to talk about the different types of puppetry while picking on a member of the audience to come and demonstrate each type with one of my puppets. As each professional came to the stage to take the puppet, I hoped my experiment would work. If it didn't, I would have a line of adults holding puppets on the stage and that would look good for a photograph. Luckily, what I had hoped would happen, did! As each 'puppeteer' was handed his/her puppet, they naturally figured out how it worked and then turned the face towards them. This is when they were discovering what their relationship would be with the puppet. Then the puppeteer began interacting - first with the puppet and then with the other puppets as the line was being created. For the audience it was fascinating. For example; a business owner started attacking the Mayor's puppet while laughing loudly, another quietly whispered to his puppet and the one next to him, oblivious to what the others were doing. The speaker before me actually volunteered to hold a particular puppet which seemed to bring out the mischievous part of her character - we had seen a very serious side while she was speaking earlier.

I set this up because I had seen it happen so many time in my adult puppetry courses. I love the fact that even on stage, in front of a large crowd, the puppeteers seemed to lose themselves in their puppet play, exposing a part of themselves often quite different from their usual persona.

Adults should play with puppets because:
  1. It gives us a sense of freedom to relax into playing
  2. Something magic happens - as if a part of you wants to be expressed through the puppet
  3. They help us to communicate with others in a different way (usually with more honesty)
Please let me know what you think. Hopefully it will be fun!