Secrets of Puppetry

In Artists, Current reading, Drafts, Hautvoir, Theater on February 8, 2014 at 8:24 am

Something like opening a parcel, and wondering what you’ll find in it this time: an empty box? A message sent your way by mistake? An unexpected gift? A sock-it-to-you jack-in-the-box? A rattlesnake? All metaphorical, of course. But metaphor is only one of the powerful ways in which words can get hurled, thrown, lobbed, exchanged, traded, offered. And so on.

A new postal worker, no doubt. I keep finding the landlord’s mail in my own box. Most of the envelops are those grim non-revelatory types with no name and a CEDEX number as a return address. A few bear logos as give-aways about their business. Snail mail doesn’t carry gift-wrapped parcels often. When it does, you take your time opening the thing. Unwrapping a gift can only happen once. Treasuring the content can last a lifetime, but that’s another matter.


Sat with a puppeteer to watch Train La Promesse de Miyazawa last night. Spent time after the show while one of the principals from Théâtre Incliné was generous enough to share some of their puppet-building secrets. The performers were excited at the prospect of meeting others they had seen on stage in Silkeborg. I was pleased at the thought of lending a hand, writing-wise, to a presentation document for a performance by a local group. Making a friend’s presentation better: easier than putting the shine on your own.


Repaired to the médiathèque at one point in the day when my own living space became too crowded with me, me and more me. Brought home a Kate Atkinson (in translation, c’est comme ça, I live in a small French town, don’t I?). At least, the translator has done the kind of job that allows an English-speaker to work back to the original voice with minimal disruption on the way. My first foray into Atkinson country. The view, the approach, the wit: well worth the read, in any language. A lot of fabulous writers out there.

You read. You learn. You go back to your own workshop. When you start drowning in your own crowd of me, me and more me, you go out again. Talk with live people or browse through the bookshelves, waiting for the tiny click of magnets that makes your hand reach out today to a book that didn’t give off the tug yesterday.


“But how do you attach the head,” the young girl asked.

“We give it a brain,” the puppeteer answered, and demonstrated.


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