Profit From Puppet Shows

If the idea of performing puppet shows for children appeals to you, here's some advice on how to get started.

| May/June 1979

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    Well conceived and mounted puppet shows will enthrall young audiences. The children may even think your "actors" are real!
    PHOTO: CHARLENE STRICKLAND
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    Starting your own puppet troupe means assembling a collection of the "little folk." These puppets have fixed mouths.
    CHARLENE STRICKLAND
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    You may also want to procure several "mouth" puppets to add variety to your shows.
    CHARLENE STRICKLAND
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    The stage should be attractive and colorful, and designed for easy assembly and disassembly. It should also be sized to your dimensions, so you'll be comfortable when you sit or stand inside it.
    CHARLENE STRICKLAND
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    Don't try to memorize an entire play. Instead, attach your script to the wall in front of you just below the stage floor. Keep one eye on the script and the others on the characters.
    CHARLENE STRICKLAND
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    After the show, the youthful viewers will be delighted by a chance to meet the "cast."
    CHARLENE STRICKLAND

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  • 057 puppet shows 06 children holding puppets.jpg

If you get along well with children and like to perform in front of people, a traveling puppet theater can be a rewarding part-time business. Even better, it doesn't demand a big initial investment. In fact, once you acquire the basic equipment, your only expenses will be transportation and advertising. And believe me many parents are d lighted to pay good money to have some terrific entertainment at their children's special parties.

In addition, the thrill of putting on puppet shows can be every bit as rewarding as the cash you'll make! Most children are familiar with puppets through television, but not very many young people have ever seen a live performance of this traditional drama form ... and they'll love it!

Basic Preparation

Naturally, it takes some time to develop all the skills a puppetmaster requires. And—in addition to putting on the actual performances—you'll have to write the script, acquire a stock of puppets, build a stage, and act as your own booking agent and driver.

If it's been a while since you've attended a children's party, try to wangle an invitation to one (surely you know a parent who could use the help!) and observe the action. This sort of first-hand experience is probably the only way to find out what you—as a puppeteer—may be in for! Then, if you're still interested in entertaining a pack of young'uns, consider the local market: Are there many children in your area? Are their parents affluent enough to hire entertainment? Do other performers operate locally, and are any of these potential competitors puppeteers?



Should the market seem favorable, your next step will be to check the local library for books on the art of puppetry. I would recommend Tom Tichenor's Puppets by Tom Tichenor (Abingdon, 1971, $6.95), Making Puppets Come Alive by Larry Engler and Carol Fijan (Taplinger 1973, $9.95), and Hand Puppets: How to Make and Use Them by Laura Ross (Lathrop, 1969, $5.94 or paperback $2.95).

Of course, real puppetmasters can give you more information than will be found in any number of books, so watch as many live and televised shows as you can, and study the puppets used in those acts to see which types appeal to you.






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