Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Confident (07/05/07)
- TITLE: Dis-abled Sally
By Constance Gilbert
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Now that made me pause...
As our puppets sang, “I Am a Promise,” I questioned him with a frown and raised eyebrows. He motioned with his head to get better control of my puppet, Sally.
“I’m doing the best I can for a short, chubby lady,” I quietly replied as I tried to straighten my puppet & hold her still- except for her mouth and her arm waving in time with the music.
“Remember you’re the puppeteer in this family... not me. AND the curtain is set for your 6'4" height not my 5'1" .”
I really wanted to do the routine with Sally about young Samuel hearing God’s voice. I had seen it done and the children loved the humor as it told the story of obedience. But Chris had said it wouldn’t work unless I practiced for hours until I could move the puppet more realistically and keep the mouth in sync.
Instead, we had come up with this sketch on honesty, where Sally would flit in and out as she tried to keep up with all the little white lies she had told. Chris would man the other three puppets and carry the story line. The message was fast-paced, easily understood, and would keep the children’s attention.
Now, behind the curtain I was dying a slow death- my arm felt like it would drop off. I was thirsty and couldn’t reach my water bottle because my left hand was holding my right arm up. Due to my lack of endurance, we had kept my... well, Sally’s... lines and the songs short, but even one minute... just 60 seconds... felt like an eternity with my arm straight up in the air and my fingers trying to remember to move the bottom of the mouth- not the top when she talked or sang.
I remembered one of his first puppets. We were attending a church family camp and had gone into town during free time. As I browsed through a gift shop, I heard a wee, squeaky voice pleading, “Please, don’t leave me I’ve lost my mummy and I can’t hang from this peg any more ”
I slowly peeked around a table towards the sound of that wee voice saying, “Please, hold me.” There was my four year old son holding a baby raccoon.
Being a tourist town, the gift store was full of shoppers and they were watching; several, like me, took a second look to determine if the raccoon was alive. Oblivious to the fact that he had an audience, my son carried on a conversation with the little critter now cradled in his arms.
Finally he said, “I’ll ask my Mom;” and he turned to find me. When the customers figured out that I was the mother, I had a problem- I wasn’t going to make it out of that store safely if I said no.
As I paid for the furry critter, that no longer wanted to live on a peg, the clerk smiled saying, “Well, every family needs a raccoon, don’t they?”
The amazing part was when we returned to camp. Everyone thought the puppet was a living, breathing baby raccoon.
“Mom, stop daydreaming. Get Sally up there ”
Sally walked on, and faced her not so happy friends. She’d worn herself out trying to keep up with her fibs. Charlie was right, “ The size of your lies don’t matter, ya just gotta be honest. Like the song says, ‘Be careful little tongue what you say, for the Father up above is lookin’ down in love...’ and He knows everything even when your friends don’t.”
Sally truthfully said she was sorry; and her friends forgave her. Together they sang “He’s Still Working On Me” to end the sketch.
Yes, Sally learned her lesson. And I learned that the ability to bring a puppet to life is in the tiny nuances of movement, and in the belief that you, the puppeteer, can make it look real. My son innately knew that at age four; as an adult with many years of practice plus a sense of humor and a large repertoire of voices, he’s a master puppeteer.
As for me? Well, “He’s Still Working On Me,” too.
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