Thursday, October 11, 2012

Say Yes To Puppetry

Yesterday, I attended a Puppetry workshop with John Tartaglia (of Avenue Q fame.)

When I signed up through the Children's Media Association (CMA) I did not expect to be thrown into a situation where I had to stand alone before a group of twenty strangers, in front of a television monitor, with a mop of rags on my arm.

But there was no time to think. I had to come up with a voice (I took a cue from many of the cooking shows I watch: low and slow) and a character (I decided, in the 30 seconds I had, that his name was Mo) and just...go.

Many of you know I write at a snail's pace. I wait for words that never come. I sigh. I stare at blank pages. I dream.  This is not to say I don't finish things. I do.  But, while everything else in my working life is now, NOW, or yesterday, my writing life is much, much slower.

All this to say, when it comes to imagining words and character, I am not accustomed to improvisation, to winging it.  This was a stretch for me. I stumbled and sweat and worried.  And when my minutes of 'fame' were over, I couldn't even tell you what I said.

But there's something about not thinking or over-analyzing.  I had to remain unedited and both undone and done at the very same time. It was the most fun I've had in a long time.  I don't think I stopped smiling for the two hours I was there.

If ever in your life you are faced with the question: Should I take this puppetry class?  Say yes.  I know you're thinking you will never be faced with this question. But you never know. I was.  And I'm thrilled I answered correctly.


  1. This is prettily wildly wonderful, Melissa. I think you would be fantastic at this.

  2. I am in love with this post, but also so jealous you got to do this! I've always loved Sesame Street, and have read a lot about Jim Henson and how Sesame Street started (Street Gang is a fantastic book) and was obsessed with becoming a puppeteer...somehow. Now I will be on the lookout for workshops.

    Also, I wish this post included a video of your performance!

  3. Wow, it looks like a really fun class, but I'll admit that I'm completely terrified of puppets. No, really.

    But it's a great analogy to writing and life. We shouldn't be afraid to take the next step. Either in puppetry (shudders) or in writing. :)

  4. That looks awesome -- I would totally take a puppetry class! Even if it sounds suspiciously like those improv classes I took in high school . . . eek. I can be passably funny on paper (sometimes), but in person? Not so much. Though we must keep challenging ourselves and growing!

  5. That looks like so much fun! What a great way to spend some time. :)

  6. How brave! I think I would've stood there mumbling "uhhhhh" for about twenty minutes. But if the class ever happens upon me, I will attempt it, per your recommendation. ;)
    Catherine Denton

  7. THAT sounds like a blast. I would say YES in a heartbeat. I've wanted to do something with puppetry for a long time. Not as many chances for classes like that, though, in rural MN.