Spotlight: Penn’s Woods Puppet Theater

Puppet productions start with stories.

Audiences relate to the ones that are part of their childhood – the ones they pass down to their children. Kids for generations have been read to sleep with fairytales like Snow White, Cinderella, and the list goes on.

Most have Hollywood endings with Good prevailing over Evil. Folktales, on the other hand, are about something else.

In The Greatest Being a daughter follows the wishes of her father and discovers a truth that challenges his reasoning. The father relents when he sees the wisdom of her finding. As in all folktales, the revelation is clear and its rendering uncomplicated.

Children’s stories are a third source, but often have to be adapted for the stage. In our play, Many Moons, narration was turned into dialogue so the characters could humorously interact.

And we broke the laugh-o-meter with the added conundrum of “a pair of purple poodles pooping in the palace.” Original scripts are another source. The plots take twists and turns as the story develops.

A character’s persona can change, too; don’t be surprised if the bad guy you started with ends up as the show’s hero. The devious persona of Newton the Mouse made such a switch in the final draft of Captain Crook and the Missing Treasure.

Count on technical hurdles, too. Launching skyrockets in the finale of Mr. Meeney and the Hot Air Balloon worked well. Having it snow in The Walls Have Ears didn’t work at all.

Creating lightning in Darkley Manor was a no-brainer. Creating dusk and dawn? Never happened.

Be prepared: determined attempts lead to frustration and sleepless nights – drawbacks of living in fantasyland. To book your event, please call Robin and Susan Tafel at 215-441-4154.

You can find them on YouTube @PennsWoodsPuppets.

PHOTO CAP: Source material for puppet plays

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