Taking Your Puppets Outside – Part 2

Here are some more tips for teams that want to take their puppet ministry outside this summer!

Sound Advice

Sound is an important aspect of any puppet show.  If the audience is going to get the message, they need to be able to hear it clearly.  Puppet teams need a good dependable sound system when performing inside, but it’s even more important when performing outside.  When you perform outdoors, the sound has no walls to bounce off of, so it’s more challenging for your audience to hear.  You’ll probably have to crank that sound system up a bit more than you normally would.  Oh, and don’t forget to ask about where your power is going to be coming from…don’t wait until the last minute on that one.  You don’t want to show up in the park and then find out that you have no way to plug in your sound system.

Protect Your Gear

It is wonderful to be outdoors and experience God’s creation, but let’s face it, there’s a lot of nasty stuff out there.  Dust, dirt, bugs…none of these would be high on the list of things I want coming into contact with my puppets.  You may want to plan on a way of covering your puppets and props when they aren’t in use.  Usually we will keep our puppets on racks backstage, so they are ready to go quickly.  But for an outdoor show, you may want to keep your puppets in a covered tub until they are ready to make their entrance on stage.

Now That’s Some High-Quality H2O

Puppetry is a strenuous activity.  When you’re team goes outdoors, where there’s no AC, they’re going to get hot!  They’re going to get sweaty!  They’re going to get gross, or at least grosser than they already are.  We don’t want any puppets dropping out of a scene because the puppeteer passed out.  Have plenty of water on hand so the performers can stay hydrated.  However, make sure that the drinks stay away from your puppets and other materials.

Choose your Material Wisely

The material you perform in an outdoor venue needs to be able to grab your audience’s attention.  You are not in a controlled environment.  There are many chances for your audience to be distracted.  A dog starts barking, a low-flying airplane zooms overhead, the sun goes behind a cloud.  If the performance is holding the audience’s attention, these kinds of interruptions won’t matter so much.  It’s also worth noting that many outdoor performances may be in an event like a fair or community celebration.  People are walking around and may join your performance midway through.  Choosing to perform short pieces with an easy to understand message may be better than doing a performance with a long drawn-out storyline.  I’ve spoken to many teams who perform at fairs that love to use the Righteous Pop Music series of parody songs.  They say that people hear a song they recognize, but something sounds different, so they stop to watch the program.

There’s no way we can plan for every challenge that is presented by performing outside, but hopefully these tips will help you be a bit better prepared.  We hope that your ministry has a fantastic summer season!

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