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(click on the pics for a bigger picture.)

Yes, I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to play the Mad-Hatter in a puppet show. This is why it is the Mad Hatter’s tea party that s-l-o-w-s down the Hare as I wrote the puppet show adaptations of The Tortoise and the Hare. Well for that, but also because I couldn’t think of how watching a Hare sleep under and tree or romp through flowers could be made into an interesting, entertaining script…..Voila–the Mad Hatter’s tea party was born again, sorta.

We were ready-----(Tina, Odette and Ann-she signed the show- line up with me wishing they could run away

We were ready—–(Tina Bushnell, Odette Hinson and Ann Lozotte(-she signed the show-) line up with me wishing they could run away…

It can be painful learning a show...and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there's no way any of it will work out.

It can be painful learning a show…and sometimes you just gotta laugh since there’s no way any of it will work out.(practice while thinking of calling in sick on the day of the show)

It’s quite an ordeal to pre-plan the adaptation, write the script, order needed  items, build the set and props, practice, direct and then perform the puppet show. In all, we had over 100 hours of time put into this production…and I was sorry that 50 or so children who hadn’t pre–signed up and reserved a spot in the audiences for either one of two “Sold-out” free shows had to be turned away.

The script was full of puns: “Do you have money for Hare-fare?”; “Here’s a Hare-brush”;”Let’s not split, Hares”; and “Hare today; gone tomorrow” These were just  a few-

The Hatter meant it when he said, "Let's look OVER the menu."

The Hatter meant it when he said, “Let’s look OVER the menu.”

Hare: “But I can’t read what’s on the menu!”(by just looking over it)

Hatter: “Excellent idea; we’ll eat what ‘s on the menu!”

In one of the funnier parts, the waiter uses a sight gag of large portions for the Hatter and small portions for the Hare.

Large lettuce leaf and tomato for me

First a large carrot for me and a five CARAT ring for the starving Hare. Then, a large lettuce leaf and tomato for me

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small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

Small tomato with bite out of it for the Hare

The bit here ends when the Hatter pretends to eat his menu, now folded around the food items as if it were a sandwich-er, on the menu.

Hatter: Bon Appetit

Hare: Wait, I can’t eat this! ( The menu as a sandwich)

Hatter: But people always eat what’s on the Menu!

The waiter-played by Odette, changes into four or more nationalities as she returns with food to put”On” the menu, or delivers a large carrot for me and a five Carat diamond ring for the starving Hare etc. In all, I think Odette changed costumes about 8 times within a 35 minute program–that’s work.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

In the beginning, the set was ready and quiet.

Wait–in the beginning the people who’d be doing the play were determined,,,their talents came into play and helped define the roles they might do well.

Random thought:

Why didn't the term, Mosshead, take hold?  That all got me thinking -I guess it’s the same for Fox News Producers…they have to dice out who can do what for their shows.

So they had to decide what roll Megyn Kelly might best be suited for on their TV show....

So they had to decide what roll, Megyn Kelly, might best be suited for on their TV show….then make her toast, I mean host.

Maybe,  we all buy into what puppets tells us?

Anyway, for us the first act was all puppets….

Children buy into puppets ,,always.....

Children buy into puppets ,,always…..(Ann Lezotte signs)

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Everything was set behind stage

lots of lines to keep track of

lots of lines to keep track of…

We always have a rocking time of it…

I first looked over the Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name...Then she said , "No I'm only Hairy." That name seemed no better.... "No" The Hare said. "I'm just Harry." This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy were missing,, maybe in trouble,,,maybe hurt....

I first looked over  Hairy Hare name Harry and thought her a bit fuzzy-she explained she was hairy all over, which I thought an odd name…Then she said , “No I’m only Hairy.” That name seemed no better…. “No” The Hare said. “I’m just Harry.” This is why I called the Medic- obviously Hairy all over and Only Hairy had gone missing,, they could’ve been in trouble,,,maybe hurt….missing for sure

We kept the pace of puns going on throughout and  you can’t flip a phrase into humor if the first one isn’t said just right. That put pressure on us to remember the subtle twists of the script.

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child.....

Of course we had a safety net made of endless confetti and horn blowers for each child at the play’s end…

In the end, it was. I found myself back stage with bending head realizing that after 21 years of doing puppet shows, I wouldn’t be doing them forever. Plus, one cast member had mentioned that maybe this was her last hurrah(the position in the puppet shows so filled with huge work is voluntary.) It all set me back- back to twenty years ago when I was 47 and new to the Library District.., young, limber, full of energy and so willing to go for it.  Then, I thought about how much I would miss doing these shows with the current cast members, how much they’d given to me, to the shows, and how wonderful they are. It was a moment of triumphant filled with a sense of loss for me.

“Are you alright?”

Tina’s sweet voice called from my left, startling me,  catching me in my retrospective moment-

“Yes.” I smiled. “I’m alright.”  I couldn’t go into how much Odette and Tina had meant to my efforts, our efforts, and how much I’d never forget the puppet shows, the laughter, or either of them. I owe them so much. I kept my thoughts private, until now.

I'' never forget the scenes

I’ll never forget the scenes–how about the tea cup?

But most of all, I’ll never forget the children’s faces, the laughter and joy we’ve managed to bring to them.

I know it a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders...and I'm so proud of them.

I know it’s a small thing-but this troupe has worked wonders…and I’m so proud of them.

 

Cheers, and I’ve a few more shows left in me as long as the ‘creek don’t rise’…

Franque23 loves his troupe.

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(If you double click on the pictures,, then you get a larger one with a magnifying glass icon that enables you to see finer details.-just double click, then click again until you get….it’s fun)

The puppet show is , The Bear Snores On…

 

three hours to put in place, but three months in the making

Three hours to put in place, but three months in the making….

 

This year Gail Carr added to the set design with a huge bulletin board of her own.

the snow countryside to the left really helps add to the flavor of the  scene

the snow countryside to the right really helps add to the flavor of the scene(er-the tables will be moved)’

it's ready

it’s ready

The thing is, sometimes I think about puppet shows for an entire year. I like to base them on literacy, stories we know, then adapt the themes to what we might make happen as a puppet show. Over the years, 21 years, I’ve worked with many talented Librarians who were willing to put up with my visions. It’s not easy,,,they will tell you. I can’t thank all those who have helped or been main actors in the past enough.

It’s always a team effort.

Cheers! I've got to go back to work....

Cheers! I’ve got to go back to work….(The Rumpelstiltskin cast had bunches of work to do before this Puppet show  could happen.)

We’ve done scripts, like the Wizard of OZ, that took over nine hours to rehearse before performing two times in a single day. We’ve taken puppet shows, “on the road” to other branch locations through the Alachua Library District. Sometimes, we’ve performed the puppet shows for over 300 patrons. The task usually starts with me writing an adaptation of some famous story in our Youth Service collection, but not always. We’ve done puppet shows entirely written by staff, like Fractured Fairy Tales , written by Jerre Conner. The thing is-we do it; we make it happen…and all of our Youth Services team supports us by covering desk time while we need to practice, or build set pieces, and then again when we perform the mad show.

I do mean mad.

My version of Puppet shows always includes an “outtake”, a time when our puppeteers go out in front of the stage and act out the puppet characters they represent. This technique is wild, and opens up so much character/ audience participation–this is when we gift our audience with confetti thrown on their heads, or make them sing with us, or chant, or answer questions. This is when my puppet shows live-the difference.

If I could give my fellow librarians any advice it would be to have live outtakes during any puppet show they present.

Of course we had to advertise the puppet show, too.

The Bear Snores On-Bulletin Board. About three months in planning and getting ready to put up.

This bear can really sleep

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and snore- oh my…..

Patroins pick books out right form underneath his nose,,,still he sleeps on

Patrons pick books out from right under his nose,,,still he sleeps on-???

the rabbit is worried-will the Bear ever wake up?

the rabbit is worried-will the Bear ever wake up?

The Raccoon is all about the play date, and fun

The Raccoon is all about the play date, and fun

While the mouse hopes to nibble on apples…

SHhhhh, don't wake up the bear

Shhhhh, don’t wake up the bear

In all, the group is waiting to have a  party

The party's all happening on this Tuesday, at 11AM at your HQ branch Library in Gainesville...

The party’s all happening on this Tuesday, the 15th,  at Eleven AM at your HQ branch Library in Gainesville…

 

Don’t miss the action….

I've got the set ready.....now, where did I put those scripts?

I’ve got the set ready…..now, where did I put those scripts? Drat.

It’s gonna be a wild time, but Shhhh,.,,,Don’t Wake Up the BEAR!

Franque23

I’ve a trilogy, The Avatar Magic series , out on Kindle now….here’s the three links to each book..I do hope you’ll spread the word and enjoy these writings.

Bk one   http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0NYO80

Bk two      http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KXMIIOK

Bk three       http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018RX67BW


We have a great tradition of doing puppet shows here in the Alachua County Library district’s  downtown Headquarter’s Branch-In one way or another, the whole crew of the youth services department gets involved, even if this is  to man the desks extra hours while the puppeteers practice or perform.*

We’d performed an adaption I wrote of The Wide-Mouth Frog about four years ago. This time, when Gail Carr heard we were doing the show again, she came running up to me with the music we’d used before-she’d saved it all this time!

Gail's eyes dazzle with the same excitement we all feel about the puppet shows.

Gail’s eyes dazzle with the same excitement we all feel about the puppet shows.

We had to start with a publicity sign and hand bills to pass out.

We put the sign up about two weeks before show date

We put the sign up about two weeks before show date, but we’d thought about how to do the show for more than 3 months-selecting parts and thinking about the humorous aspects of the puppet show.

We place the story in a Floridian swamp–and talk up as many environmental issues as possible without being too heavy handed.

I decided to build a set that places the frog under mushrooms this time-that means I have to build those gigantic shrooms.

How to build a 3-D mushroom? That was my question!

How to build a 3-D mushroom? That was my question!

I started with two different shapes, thinking I might stuff something on this back piece and cover it with the right paper….turned out, I didn’t need any stuffing.

Iwanted the mushrooms to have gills,,,and think I may put interior lighting inside the shrooms for a neat look--though not sure I'll get to this.

I wanted the mushrooms to have gills,,,and think I may put interior lighting inside the shrooms for a neat look–though not sure I’ll get to this. I stapled the gills to the back piece, and bent it up and out.

Here’s a shot of this from the other side to help show the structure technique.

Now the back piece and gills of shroom are ready for the outer layer that will be stapled to the inside tabs as shown.

Now the back piece and gills of shroom are ready for the outer layer that will be stapled to the inside tabs as shown.

(above)I’m using x-actos to cut a stiff mylar and then bending the paper so they form the gills I want. My fingers point to the tabs I’ll need in order to staple the covering to the gill part of the interior.

It took some planning to figure how much material I'd need to bend around the mushroom frame.

It took some planning to figure how much material I’d need to bend around the mushroom frame.

I’m using a corrugated,  tan colored roll of paper. I deliberately stepped on this board for one of the shrooms, to give that one a different texture/look. Then came the stapling- I had to staple the tabs once to the top paper as it came around the bend, and then again to get those staples as close as possible to the frame and end up with the look I wanted.

a two step process-first, a loose fight, then a tighter stapling and closer cutting to shape the mushroom

a two step process-first, a loose fit, then a tighter stapling and closer cutting to shape the mushroom

Not too bad so far...

Not too bad so far…

The stems will  be made out of corrugated white paper…the mushrooms will stand about six to seven feet, one on either side of the puppet show. And there will be trees……that may be turned around by hand. One side of each tree will show an arching branch full of leaves and hanging Spanish moss but, when turned, the back side of those branches will come together as a rainbow —you’ll get the idea once they are done.  A great intern, Grace, helps make the rainbow, and stands next to the guts of the trees –

Grace helped us before several years ago....it's great ot have her back! Menawhile, the puppet stage that will be transformed into a swamp is in the background.

Grace helped us before several years ago….it’s great to have her back! Meanwhile, the puppet stage that will be transformed into a swamp is in the background.

I got center pieces of carpet rolls from a local carpet store, hack-sawed them in half, cut out boxes and taped them together for a stable up-right.

The mushrooms wait on my desk for their stems....

The mushrooms wait on my desk for their stems….

Some say I must have been eating mushrooms to come up with this sorta stuff-but I love it! And I can’t wait to see my supervisor, Tina, play the part of the Wide-Mouth Frog….she wears so many hats! Odette, our other puppeteer for the show, has a million voices! Plus, when I showed her a box I hoped to turn into an ambulance, she did a 1000 times better job of that task than I’d ever dreamed possible.

Usually, it is common for puppet shows to feature small, intricate stage props the puppets can use. Thinking big can work, too. We like to bring the show to the people, and often do outtakes during the Puppet show that present full size characters who represent the puppets in person. It’s an interesting twist.

The stage is starting to come together…

Thing is, we still needed to build much more for the set,,,I worked, and many others helped. Here’s a good shot of the trees in production. One side of overhanging limbs will be of wood and leaves, but when they are turned around, those hanging branches will form a rainbow…

the branches start- one picture of each side

the branches start- one picture of each side

Volunteers help us build the trees.....the tree frames stand behind the branches/rainbow.

Volunteers help us build the trees…..the tree frames stand behind the branches/rainbow.

Finally, after about four hours of putting prop  pieces in place, the stage is set. (The puppet stage is in between the shrooms, and the people appeared throughout the show by walking out in front of the ambulance.  That truck we drove out as two medics who wore frog hats–the wide mouth frog had a frog stuck in her throat….

It took a drill, hammer and counter sinks to attach the tree limbs that doubled as a rainbow....

( Click on the picture for a bigger, better view.)It took a drill, hammer and counter sinks to attach the tree limbs that doubled as a rainbow….The tinsel blew like rain in the rain forest once the AC was turned on.

The show was more than great fun!  Here’s to great times in Libraries.

Ribbit, ribbit.

See you!

Franque23

*The other blog about the show-getting ready to perform.https://franque23.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/puppet-show-pazazzz/

here are links for both of my books in the Avatar Magic Series:
Book one, Avatar Magic and book two, The Code of Avatar Magic are on kindle now.

The set was ready for The Wide Mouth Frog...

The set was finally ready for The Wide-Mouth Frog…

The Wide Mouth Frog get sready for action--but it turns out, she had a frog stuck in her throat Medics were luckily able to remove during the play

The Wide Mouth Frog gets ready for action–but it turns out, the star had a frog stuck in her throat that Medics were luckily able to remove during the play

This Puppet show, however, was hardly our first  rodeo on the circuit.

This Puppet show, however, was hardly our first rodeo on the circuit.

Rumpelstiltskin was a super time.....

Rumpelstiltskin was a super time…..

As director, the hardest thing to over come is the shy nature of my cast members...

As director, the hardest thing to over come is the shy nature of my cast members…

It's like pulllin' teeth trying to get my workmates to slough off their routines and dress up.

It’s like pulllin’ teeth trying to get my workmates to slough off their routine clothing and dress up.

The hardest thing is to get them to wear hats!

The hardest thing is to get them to wear hats!

No wait!- It’s impossible to get our crew to wear hats! Why-oh why!?!??!

Another ho-hum day at work.....

Another ho-hum day at work…..

I work hard to write the lines I know they'll forget!

I work hard to write the puppet show lines that we all will forget come show time!

I have to beg patrons to attend...

I have to beg patrons to attend…

Sometimes, the work gets soooo difficult, "Find your marks!", "Speak to the audience!", "Please show up!", "Forget it! Just say anything!", that all I see as porducer is red!

Sometimes, production gets soooo difficult, “Find your marks!”, “Speak to the audience!”, “Please show up!”, “Forget it! Just say anything!”, that all I see  is red!

There are always intense moments......

There are always intense moments just before show time……

Sometimes I think we take the color and shape of our hair too seriously.

Cast members have discussions-producing the puppet show is a decision making process.

 Sometimes, I go a bit over board....

Sometimes, I go a bit over board….

But in the end…..

We Slay the beast--and the show is done!

We slay the beast–get thru the performances and the shows are done!

Until the next one.

We rest together once more, knowing the crowd the loved it! And, so did we......

We rest together once more, knowing the crowd loved it! And, so did we……

The next blog will show how the set for the Wide-Mouth Frog was built-and give an idea of how many people  actually helped make it happen.

The Wide Mouth Frog was a super good time, and we'll do this puppet show again this summer at the Alachua County's Headquarter's Branch Library---see you then!

The Wide-Mouth Frog was a super good time, and we’ll do this puppet show again this summer at the Alachua County’s Headquarter’s Branch Library—see you then!

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We always have a good time.

Franque23ish.

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