Starting Sept. 4, students will have the opportunity to expand their imaginations as The Grand Theatre presents its second annual Puppet Workshop. The six-week program will be conducted for youth in grades two through five on Tuesdays from 4 to 5:15 p.m.
“[In] the first session, Angie [Alexandersen] is going to give them some background on puppetry, where it came from [and] some of the different kinds of puppets,” said Terri Cox, program director for The Grand Theatre. “She has a big collection of all different kinds of puppets and she’ll just show them different types and how they work and things like that. Then they will learn how to make two or three different kinds in the course of the workshop. They’ll make their own puppets and learn about how to manipulate them, how to present a character, that sort of thing.
“We had a small group last year. I think we had five students and they just had a ball. The very first day we had this funny little type of puppet. It’s really just two eyeballs that you kind of clip on your fingers. So your hand becomes part of the puppet and the eyes are the eyes of the puppet,” she said, referring to a puppet called a ‘peeper.’ “And immediately you can start working and being creative and they just took to it right away. Their homework that first week was when they were out in public somewhere to find ... [someone and] pull it out of your pocket and just do a little impromptu show for them. And right away they just were hooked on it. One of the little boys, his mom says he has continued to make puppets and kind of started his own little collection. So they really enjoy it.”
For the second year, the Puppet Workshop will be led by Alexandersen, a member of the Fellowship of Christian Puppeteers and The Grand’s educational support staff. Echoing Cox’s comments, Alexandersen — who has more than 30 years of experience in the puppetry arts — has witnessed the benefits of youth-oriented puppetry offerings.
“[Last year] I taught them the rules of puppetry, how you don’t bite the words and how to do things,” Alexandersen said. “So I set up this little trifold on the stage and I sat behind it on the floor of the stage. I just said, ‘OK, you get to name your puppets and you get to come up with a character [for] your puppet.’ And I just sat back and let them do a puppet show for me with their little peepers, that’s what they’re called. It was so cool to see their ‘inner puppet’ come to life because they did some things that were very imaginative.
“For one instance, one of the kids turned the eyeballs backwards so it looked like the eyes were closed. It was like he was sleeping and then he fell off the bed and quickly turned it around and he was awake. The things that they came up with, the imagination, it was just really fun to see how they took to it. ... They enjoy it because it’s not just playing with a toy. They’re actually becoming a character and they can say something that means something to other people.”
Registration currently is under way for the Puppet Workshop, which will cost $60 for each participant. Adults can sign up youth by calling 770-386-7343 or visiting The Grand Theatre Ticket Office, 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville.