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Your Most Gratifying Moment?

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by D'Snowth, Dec 6, 2009.

  1. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    And I DON'T mean that the way it sounds... :eek:

    What I mean, has there ever been a special moment in your life as a puppeteer where you really felt like you knew you were not only doing your job, but were doing a GOOD job at that?

    For me, it's just knowing that I have the ability to bring a seemingly simple little tool to life for people; one of my lesser-known experiences was for a week in June of 2005, I had the opportunity to bring some puppetry to Vacation Bible School at church. Since the theme for that year was a construction zone, I was playing a construction barrel of description (named Darrel the Barrel, lol), and he became such a big hit with the kiddies that one night, after the event was over, a small group of rugrats ran over the puppet set, and accidentally tore it down wanting to see Darrel up close and personal... instead, they saw a fat hairy guy with a script in his lap and a microphone pinned to his shirt, lol.

    Muppeteers always talk about how wonderful it is when little kids are so drawn to the characters that when they meet them, the puppeteer is virtually invisible, and it is true; one of my earliest experiences with Steve for PBS, we had a little boy in the studio that day, and we put on the puppet set, where he was introduced to everybody, including "The Nice Man Holding Steve Down There Is Joseph", but that little boy didn't see no "Nice Man Joseph", he just saw Steve, and conversed with this purple monster as if he were a real person. If I thought that was exciting, that was nothing compared to another day when we had a man from the Knoxville Zoo on the puppet set... even between takes, and when we weren't live on camera, he was talking to Steve instead of me... think about it, here was a grown man conversing with a hollow construction of foam rubber and fur as if it's a real being. :) I think that was when I personally felt that I wasn't just doing something I wanted to do, but that I was doing a good job at my job, lol.
  2. Puppetainer

    Puppetainer Well-Known Member

    Okay, I'll give it a shot. Seems a little weird for me to speak as a "puppeteer" though. I have yet to actually perform in a single puppet show. It's been a dream for a long time and I'm working towards creating and putting up a youtube puppet show, but so far my experiences are quite minimal.

    Still I will share one very rewarding moment. Several years ago I saw an ad for puppeteers to perform in parades at Disneyland in California. I mentioned it to my wife and she insisted that we go so I could try out. I tried to be "rational" (we live in Wisconsin, we were not really in a position to pick up and fly to CA for all of this, etc) but she would have none of it. She knew how passionate I am about puppetry.

    So we flew out there and both tried out. It was an amazing experience. We were there with about 25 or 30 other people to audition. We were a bit like the Jamacian bobsled team. There were all of these people from southern California and 2 crazy people from Wisconsin! Everyone there was rooting for us.

    First we had some basic instruction from one of the Disneyland puppeteers. We all got to rehearse some basic eye focusing and manipulation using just 2 ping pong balls rubber banded to our fingers for eyes. Then we actually go to rehearse with one of the puppets they had there to perform with.

    I had chills as I put that bit of fleece and foam on my arm. We were in a dance studio that was walled with floor to ceiling mirrors. The Disney folks were seated at tables in front of us and we would line up 4 at a time in front of them and the mirrored wall and perform. For our rehearsal we lip synched to "Zip a dee doo da". It was amazing. I was really focusing on properly working the puppet and checking the mirror to see how my performance was going. I felt a little awkward and nervous at that point.

    Then we were called to actually audition. We didn't know the song we would be working to until the music started. It was "Living La Vida Loca" from Shrek 2. Luckily I was quite familiar with this version of the song and could focus all my attention on my performance. As the song continued I really got into my performance and even interacted a bit with the puppeteer/puppet that was next to me. I completely forgot there was anyone in front of us until a silly bit of business I did made one of them laugh. In that moment my fate was sealed. I kind of went, "oh yeah, that's what this is all about!"

    So to wrap up this story, I did make the cut but they ended up eliminating 3 of us that were 6 foot tall or taller because of height limitations within the floats we would have been performing in. The crowd was heartbroken for me but as I told them, there was nothing to be sad about. I had an AMAZING experience and now my spark of passion for puppetry had been ignited into a roaring blaze!

    And so there is my meager moment. Now I'm pushing forward with my little internet show so I can feel that magic again. I don't know that puppetry will ever be my "day job" but I do know that I can't give it up!
  3. spcglider

    spcglider Well-Known Member

    So far...

    The most gratifying thing as a puppeteer to me was opening the new Sesame Street book and reading a quote from Frank Oz where he talked about being so into his performance that he doesn't actually remember doing it afterwards.

    I had been noticing that about myself when I perform Furry Ackermonster on TVTV. I'd watch the finished piece and not recall consciously making any particular gesture or move... or for that matter consciously doing a little head tilt or reaction to another character. And it worried me. Until, of course, I read that quote from Frank Oz.

    I guess, subconsciously I must be doing SOMETHING right! And that's gratifying!


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