Taking Your Puppets Outside – Part 1

The summer is upon us. The weather is turning warm, well sort of…here in Colorado’s high elevations there’s always a chance of getting a light snow in even May or June. At this time of the year, puppet ministry teams may be called upon to perform in an outdoor venue. Maybe it’s the church picnic in the park, or a special outdoor outreach event in the church parking lot, or maybe even riding a float in the 4th of July parade. Outdoor performing presents several challenges for a puppet team. Here are a few things to consider when taking your team out into the wilds of nature.

Ask What Happens if it Rains

Whether you’re performing for your own church or you’ve been invited to perform for another, ask the big question…what’s Plan B? If it rains, what do we do? A backup venue may need to be planned on. Of course, it’s not easy for a puppet team to just pick up and move to the church gym at a moment’s notice. Use your resources to watch the weather forecast and set a time for when a decision about change of venue needs to be made.

Puppet Stages and Wind Do Not Get Along

In my times performing outside, rain has not been a big issue. Wind, on the other hand, always seems to be a factor. One time, my wife and I did a performance on Christian night at a local amusement park. The gale force winds would’ve sent our puppet stage curtains floating off to Kansas had a mime team that was performing on the same stage not been there to hold the curtains down. Some teams that perform outside have gotten into the habit of traveling with some weights to help hold their curtains down in the wind. Heavy items like bricks or even simple hand weights could come in handy. If you are concerned about the safety of your puppeteers in an especially windy environment, move the performance inside. Sometimes, even the lightweight stands of an aluminum tripod puppet stage can be rocked a bit by a strong wind. The puppet team I grew up on would tie sandbags to our stage tripods when performing outside to keep them in place.

Backstage View

It’s important to remember that you may be performing in an area where there is no wall behind your performance. People may be able to see, or even wander, backstage. You may want to enlist some extra security help to make sure only the performers are handling the puppets and other equipment.

We’ll bring you a few more outdoor puppetry tips in Part 2!

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