Taking the stress out of your child's annual celebrations!

Posts tagged ‘puppeteer’

I Love My Job

“I love my job!”

 

How many times do you hear people say that?

 

Not often, I can guarantee.

 

But I say it almost every time I go out to work.

 

Granted , in my 20 years of being a London Children’s Entertainer  there have been times where I have reminded myself of the fact that ‘This is why it is called work ( and not play) ” and I have put my nose to the metaphorical grindstone ( the alternative would be a bit ouchy!) and got on with the job of being an entertainer and puppeteer . Those few times have usually been when I was faced with difficult circumstances like noise ( usually the grown-ups on the sauce I’m afraid…no , not ketchup!) or just too much being thrown at the children all at once. I can’t stress enough times that with small children, just throwing money at the problem isn’t going to solve it. With small children , less is most often more. Give them a chance to focus and you will be amazed at how much they can focus.

But, I can count on the fingers of one hand all the times  I’ve not found work that fun. That isn’t bad going when I’ve been doing this puppeteering /entertainment lark for 20 years now.

 

Last weekend was no exception. I started off on the Friday at a birthday party for lovely Otto. He was turning three and I was so delighted to be returning to this family after 8 years. They had used my puppeteering and entertainment services all those years ago for their last child when he was three. Now the big brother was 11! It was wonderful to keep this 3rd birthday party tradition going and to witness the older brother joining in from the back, still giggling at the same jokes he had enjoyed all those years ago, now he was sharing in the fun with his little brother. It was touching indeed to be part of this celebration. I sometimes feel I have the privilege of entering children’s memories as that silly lady who made them laugh at their birthday. What a wonderful position to be in.

So that was Friday.

Saturday I was up bright and early and off to a morning party for the lovely Victoria. She was turning 4 . We had a blast, Victoria especially loved my puppet Fifi the Fairy.

Fairy puppet Fifi

Fifi eating her wand

Fifi gave out hugs and kisses at the end.

The lovely Victoria hugging Fifi ( identity protected)

Victoria and Diane after the party

He’s behind you!

So Victoria waved goodbye to Fifi and went off home to open all her presents. I jumped into my waiting cab and zoomed off to my next party.

Uma was turning 5 , we had a wonderful time, again with Fifi the fairy  as we told the story of how Fifi turned her teacher into a Birthday Witch whilst trying to make a Birthday Wish… ( see what I did there?)

Witchy Poo Poo was a great hit.

Witchy Poo in all her witchy glory

Again I was mistaken for Rosie. Easy mistake to make I suppose.

spot the difference… it’s the glasses isn’t it?

I think Uma enjoyed her party, so much so that she burst into tears at the end of the show . She didn’t want it to end. But after a reassuring cuddle from Fifi the fairy,  I left a very happy Uma and went home to witness Chelsea winning the Champions League.

I thought nothing of it until the morning when I tried to book my cab to go to my Sunday morning in … Chelsea!

The controller calmly informed me that roads were being closed in Chelsea to prepare for the Champions League Victory Parade and that I wouldn’t be able to get through to my gig.

PANIC!

After a bit of begging and pleading and cajoling, ( and giving him the exact address) we worked out between us that it was the posh end of Chelsea that I was going to , not the football end. So we’d give it a go. I gave myself a good hour to get there to deal with any traffic and crossed fingers , toes , eyes, legs and arms.

As it turned out, there was no traffic at all! In fact the roads were much clearer than normal. Maybe people were staying away fearing congestion? Who knows. All I know is I got to the Christening party in such good time , I was happy I’d taken my crochet. ( I’m an avid crocheter as well as being a puppet lady. I make stuff based on rainbows and fairies. I’m just a big kid at heart)

Stuff I make.

Well that was a very lovely day at the ‘office’ . So many parents stayed to watch and they laughed at my jokes and cooed at the little ones playing Sleeping Bunnies with Bobby Bunny during the show. It is a joy to watch the parents faces when I’m behind my puppet theatre as they witness their kids having so much fun. Sometimes I see a tear or two. It’s touching.

Mummy came up to me at the end and said I was awesome  and that she’d never seen her son so engaged and enthralled.

Gosh.

*Blushes*.

Waving bye bye to the lovely children , I jumped into my waiting chariot ( cab) and  went forth to my next engagement.

Lucia was turning 3 and she was the very lucky girl who was going to have a puppet show in her very own bedroom! How exciting!

From my perspective, a little challenging, as the space was fairly limited and I was going to end up with a bunch of shy kids sitting really close to me and my puppets . I would have to work hard to engage their trust quickly otherwise I knew from experience that crying fever could sweep through that small space. ( Once one goes, the rest follow, I’ve found)

Well, I worked hard on my self deprecation. ( I’m a silly sausage, cheeky nunkey( sic) ) That always helps. My monkey calls me names and I don’t get cross. This seems to reassure little children that I’m an alright person pretty quickly. Plus it’s really silly and funny. If I can  make children laugh in the first two minutes then I’m happy that the rest of the party will be fine.

It worked. Mummy sent me a sweet thank you email afterwards saying that Lucia is still talking about the puppet show that happened in her room. Result!

 

So yes, I love my job.

The hours are great, the clients are wonderful, and the best thing of all is the job satisfaction. There’s nothing quite like the emotional connection that you get from children. When they like you, they REALLY like you.

Mind you, the flip side of that is that if they don’t like you, they walk away.

 

I better make sure I keep my standards up.

It’s a good life.

 

 

 

 

Like a Puppet on a String

Puppets , puppets, puppets, they come in so many forms.

Following on from my previous post about puppets from my youth, I’ve found a suitcase full of marionettes that I made over 15 years ago.

I’ve  never really used them. After making them I realised that marionettes really weren’t my bag. They require precision and grace and a certain patience. They are like the ballet of puppetry: slow moving, graceful and deliberate. I’m more pantomime, I like the fast moving, slapstick, high energy of the hand puppet.

You live and learn.

So I’ve been left with these lovely characters. First there is this man. He is a gentleman, magician type , with his top hat and cravat. He’s rather old fashioned and just a little bit goofy.

A lovely gentleman.

Jolly good show!

He looks rather dapper in his topper and frock coat, don’t you think?

Someone suggest a name for this lovely fellow.

Then I made another puppet. A punk puppet. A rather glamorous and just a tad camp, puppet. He has a pink mohican and lovely drainpipe pvc trousers, a regulation safety pin through his ear and a Union Jack t-shirt.

Check out the underarm hair… I like details on puppets.

Bovver boots and mohican.

Bovver boots and mohican.

Portrait of a Punk Puppet, check out that bobble nose!

Punk puppet posing

Both the Gentleman puppet and Punk puppet were made of stiffened sewn fabric and the Punk puppet has carved wood hands and feet.

Then I made another puppet, a carved wooden head that turned into a sort of Noah. I didn’t have a plan when I made him, he just sort of announced himself.

Naked puppet. I thought he had a certain beauty imbued in his simplicity.

Carved wood marionette puppet

Rosy cheek puppet

Running puppet

I have more of these marionette puppets. I made quite a few. I shall show you a few more another time.

For now, I shall just put these puppets back into the suitcase and into the cupboard until I figure out what to do with them.

Ooh like a puppet on a string... Ah, as a feminist I never really agreed with the sentiments behind that Sandy Shaw song. Those lyrics are decidedly dodgy. Is that why I don’t relate to marionettes?

Tee Hee. 🙂

London Children's Entertainer

Diane, the London Children's Entertainer

Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to work I go…

office chair

Image by chotda via Flickr

I was on the bus on my way to my last storytelling session at my favourite school in Blackheath, musing over the stories that were to be told in my head. As I prepared my repertoire mentally, I gazed in an unfocused stare out of the window. I was totally unprepared for what I saw.

As the bus drove past grey grimy shop after grey grimy shop my eyes were startled by the following window display. In large letters on sheets of A4 paper stuck on the window, I saw

Damien Hirst bought a chair from us!

This really made me chuckle. This was celebrity endorsement like I’d never seen before. Here was a very normal , some may say downtrodden ,office furniture shop in the New Cross area of London using their creativity and really catching my attention. Even though there seemed to be an absolute glut of office furniture shops on that particular road, this shop was the one I’d remember.

It made me ponder on how resourceful people become in tough times like these. We are all struggling to make ends meet in what is a very difficult time, not only in England but across the globe. When times get tough, the tough get going. I often think that this economic downturn has an unexpected benefit of really strengthening individual’s resolve and stripping back the average and showcasing the special.

I’ve bumped into the very talented man called Damien Hirst at a few parties in my capacity as a London children’s entertainer. Once I was instructed to set up my puppet booth in front of a very famous medicine cabinet. I felt a little anxious when I realised just where I’d seen that medicine cabinet before. It bore all the markings of Damien Hirst and lo and behold, he was one of the guests. I then realised my client was of a very prestigious family with a history steeped in film making. I’d watched my client’s brother on the television riding his motorbike across Africa with the very lovely Ewan McGregor.

Sometimes being a London Children’s entertainer and puppeteer is a lot of fun!

Diane has been recommended by a celebrity or two as well.

Getting back to the business of entertaining

Lion - Louisville Zoo

Image via Wikipedia

Summertime is almost over and it’s time for me to put my children’s entertainer hat back on.

It’s been lovely to have a break and concentrate on other aspects of myself for a while, but to be honest I’m itching to get back to what I love best: entertaining London’s children.

The telephone has started to ring again and bookings are coming in. Birthday parties are back on the agenda and I’m gearing up by making a few new puppets and working on some new stories.

Tomorrow I’m tootling off to one of my favourite schools where I have been made part of the ‘family’ so it seems. I’ve been booked to work at their holiday club and tell some stories with puppet illustration. I’ve done a few in the last few weeks, Thumbelina, Space Mouse

and now I’m looking forward to telling tales from the Jungle.

The jungle forms a large part of childhood mythology, and whilst I’m happy to declare the lion the King of the Jungle, I also like to point out the inaccuracy of this statement and do my bit to tell the children real facts about lions as part of the fun entertainment. Mrs Lion does all the work and Mr Lion just lies under a tree all day, that’s why they call him a lion, because he’s always lying about . Well it works better when spoken…

I’ve made a brand new 5 foot long  knitted snake for the occasion and I’m really excited about introducing him to the children. He’s rainbow coloured and drapes really nicely around my neck. Sometimes I forget that the children see my puppets for the first time and whenever I make a new puppet, I share in the children’s excitement when they are first introduced to  them.

Meet Hissy the Snake

So Mr Snake will join Mr Elephant, Mr Lion and Mr Giraffe , Jaffa the monkey and wee Ms Mouse in my Jungle tales tomorrow.

I like to sniff you to see if you've washed your clothes!

Walking in the Jungle with a beat in your feet, tell me an animal that you’d like to meet.

I’m a lucky woman. I look forward to going back to work.

The things children say

Michael Jackson, cropped from Image:Michael Ja...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a couple of things that children have said to me this last few days:

(On hearing a Michael Jackson song) A five year old girl who was being painted as a butterfly, said: “Michael Jackson is dead isn’t he?”

I replied: ” Yes he is . But he lives on in his music.”

Five year old ponders this for a moment and then replies with very serious expression: ” He’s in another body, he’s still alive. Yes he’s still alive.”

 Woah… Seriously strange dude.

After emerging from my puppet booth dripping glowing with sweat dewdrops , a young lad of around 7 years old says to me:

” I think you’re the best puppeteer in the world EVER , the best EVER invented. You’re just the best!”

Did I say I loved my job?

I love my job.

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