Some years ago I was at a conference where one of the speakers didn’t show up – instead we shared ideas and expertise of our own. I sat and politely listened to a colleague talking about using puppets in all age worship. I thought he was brilliant but had no plans to ever follow him. But then some years later I found myself at a Christian Resources Exhibition looking at some puppets the day before we had an All Age Service with no ideas! I bought them, brought them home and wrote a script, followed the advice from that workshop years before, and Grace and Jake were born.
The absolute best thing about the puppets is that you can get away with a very simple message because it is the puppets who either ask or answer basic questions. I think it is really important that the puppets aren’t stupid, they sometimes say silly things but they are supposed to be smart Christian kids with good questions and the confidence to talk about faith.
How I use the puppets:
- Never ever let ANYONE see the puppets when they are not in action, it will break the implicit deal you have with the congregation that the puppets are ‘real’.
- I hide behind the screen for the whole service if I can manage to, or slip in and out during songs.
- I have the screen set up hiding my feet and at least a bit taller than my head – if you had to crouch it would be painful.
- When the puppets come on ‘stage’ I flip their legs over very quickly so my hand shows for the minimum time – to enable this I hold them upside down until they are ready to flip over the screen.
- I tape the script to the inside of the screen and have a lapel microphone to capture my voice(s).
- If you are working with a partner outside the screen (Charlotte in my scripts) they must stick to the script or you get lost. ad libbing is really hard.
- Practice – its much funnier if you are confident.
I never found any scripts I could pinch, so I’m sharing mine in case they are any use to anyone. I haven’t changed them to make them less context specific but I think that would be easy to do.