The Power of the Puppeteer

Phil Huber commented on an article about the power of the puppet on his FaceBook page. “This is the essence of my job. To create reality where there seems to be only illusion,” he stated.
But it is more than that. The power of the puppet is the power of the puppeteer to take the basic drive of man to create order out of chaos.

I attended a teaching artist workshop a number of years ago and told the leader, I learned more about teaching in a few hours than I ever learned in all my education courses at Saint Louis University. One of her exercises was to look at pictures and see patterns. It is fundamental human nature. That is how we see the Man in the Moon, the face on Mars, images of gods in the constellation, faces on rock outcroppings, the Piasa Bird, etc.

For many years I performed a little dance routine with rod puppet shoes. Hardly puppets, they were children’s shoes that I bought and had stuck a wooden dowel into the heal. There was no other animation, no facial features, just shoes on a stick. The a few years ago it hit me. . . . By the end of the routine, I had the audience assigning different personalities to “shoes on a stick.” That is an amazing power.

This Christmas marks the 39th anniversary of the rod puppet version of my Christmas Fantasy show. (It originated years earlier as a marionette show.) The elf that sings Chim Chim Cherree has a litte chimney sweep broom that is simple an 8 inch wooden dowel with a yarn sweep glued to it. For the past 38 years the broom goes out of control for 10 seconds as a comedy bit. For some reason, this year I wondered what would happen it had a mind of its own for the whole routine. I did it, and it worked. The children went wild over it. They were screaming and laughing over the antics of a wooden dowel with a few pieces of yarn glued to it.  That is a fantastic power.

It makes up for doing a puppet show for my kitten. . . . But that is another story.

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