My kids have attended the Philly Performing Arts Center for Kids (PACK) for several years and have always loved being a part of the creative and fun productions Jess and company put together. When it was announced that they would be doing a production of The Neverending Story, I volunteered myself to work on puppets before I even knew there would be puppets! I had the pleasure of working with the staff and kids to create larger than life characters which could be brought to life by small but VERY enthusiastic new puppeteers. The show was a huge success and in the productions since, I have continued to work on costumes and props with Jess.
The Neverending Story
The Secret Garden
The Wizard of Oz
The PACK production of The Little Mermaid was a little different for me because it was a summer session and the first in the new studio space on Federal St. That meant that I was able to set up shop in the studio and build puppets where the kids rehearsed, (sometimes with them!) and it also meant I only had 8 days to build everything. All told, we made 18 fish, 5 jellyfish, 3 sharks, 1 whale and 1 sea turtle. Although I usually use cardboard and recycled materials, we emphasized those choices to enhance the production's focus on environmental conservation.
Children's Music Education
I've had the pleasure of being asked by Mr. John of Mister John's Music to make a series of puppets/ interactive sculptures based on popular children's songs.
The first was a puppet made to accompany the "Wheels on the Bus" song which was made entirely of cardboard and recycled materials. It has wheels which spin and move the passengers up and down through the action of gears, an opening door and driver whose arm can be manipulated to motion to "move on back", moving windshield wipers, and a honking horn. It can be hung on a wall or stood on a flat surface to be manipulated.
I look forward to the next one!
Hand and Rod Puppets
We are HUGE Jim Henson fans in this house. One summer, the boys and I decided that it would be a fun project to create our own Muppet-style hand puppets out of felt. The boys drew out their characters and I helped pattern and assemble them. We learned a lot while making them and already have plans for others.
Over the summer, my great friend Anne Harrison invited me to join her in working with Concilio of Philadelphia's summer youth program to prepare for the Puerto Rican Day parade. I worked with the teens in designing and building two large paper mache coqui frog puppets, and multiple small stick flower and butterfly puppets. The kids were amazing to work with and in just a few sessions, we made some really impressive puppets!
Halloween is my favorite. My kids always have great ideas for costumes and/or they like to come up with impossible challenges and watch me furiously sew in the weeks leading up to October 31st. Either way, home made costumes are the best.