Finding Scripts to Stage Your Own Puppet Shows
By Gwynn Torres
The fun and creative rewards gained from helping children stage their own puppet shows are immeasurable. Too often, however, even after you've assembled your puppets, a puppet stage and a troupe of little actors, the missing ingredient is the script. While there are a few sources of scripts written specifically for the puppet theater, there's a wealth of other resource materials to create your own puppet show scripts - some ready to perform, some easy to adapt.
Since comedy is a great form of entertainment for children, one place to find source material for puppet shows is in existing comedy routines. Classic comedy routine scripts and pre-recorded comedy soundtracks are available in libraries, bookstores and throughout the Internet. The Web is full of comedy routines already in script form. The Creativity Institute website offers links to several of these classic collections, as part of our mission to help bring out the creative potential in children. Plus, we are constantly researching and updating these resources. Simply find something that suits your puppet theater cast in level of sophistication and in the number of parts, and you're ready to go.
Puppets are as versatile as your imagination. It doesn't really matter what puppets you have, even when the puppets don't match the parts in a script. This is especially true of animal puppets. Because they're such a departure from human roles, they can easily be substituted for almost any role and even add an extra dimension to the show. Just tell the rabbit puppet that he's Abbott or Costello and the duck puppet he's one of the Marx Brothers, and watch the hilarity start to happen. You can even do simple wardrobe modifications on the puppets to both enhance the production and help the puppeteers get into character. (Example: Use double-stick tape to attach a piece of black yarn above a puppet mouth for a "Groucho" mustache.)
The quickest way to start performing your puppet show is to use a pre-recorded script, such as an old radio show, comedy routine from TV or a movie. Saturday Night Live and Monty Python are full of great ones. Some classic old comedy routines, including The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers and Abbot and Costello, can be a lot of fun for children to perform and delightful for "audience members." The children don't even have to read lines, but just pantomime along with the dialog.
Additional sources of puppet script and performance materials include recorded songs, including children's songs, novelty songs, musical duets and multiple-part numbers. Think of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," "The 12 days of Christmas" and other holiday songs. The Muppet Show used to do wonderful things with these recordings. If the song is simple enough, such as "Old Mac Donald" with its multiple characters, you can let the children sing it themselves as they act out the different animal puppet parts.
Of course, you can always write your own puppet theater scripts. Maybe there's a real experience you or the children enjoyed that you want to relive. Or there could be a lesson you want to impart - about sharing, or getting along, or shaking the boredom of a rainy day. These themes can be turned into puppet show scripts that are as simple or as complex as you want, with as many characters as you feel like casting. If you don't have enough puppets, get creative. Introduce a doll or two into the cast. You can even create an impromptu puppet out of a rubber glove and a marker or just a simple sock.
The world of literature is another resource of dramatic material that can easily be adapted to simple puppet stage shows. Depending on the ages of the children, you can do the conversion for them or coach them in how to simplify and convert their favorite fable, fairy tale, nursery rhyme, children's book, and even scenes from movies or TV shows. Simply write out the dialogue, and indicate which child does which puppet part, or let them read right from the books, using Post-Its to show who speaks where. Often printing out the text or copying the page with marking or color-coding where the parts change is all you need to do.
As a sample of a non-script format story adapted for the puppet stage, we have a ready-to-perform script version of the Aesop's Fable "The Lion and the Mouse" as a free download on our website, CreativityInstitute.com. It includes stage directions and requires only two puppets and an off-stage narrator.
As we said earlier, puppets are as versatile as your imagination. They can sing, dance, fly through space and make an audience laugh or cry. Children often have their first experiences with role-play on the puppet stage. The puppet theater allows children to be in a valuable position to receive positive reinforcement from entertaining others and seeing their audiences react as they explore their character voices, antics, interpretations and ad-libs. Get your child in the act, and you'll be amazed at the possibilities.
The Creativity Institute is an online educational toy store and information resource dedicated to helping parents enhance creative development in children, from infant through school age. The store handpicks each educational toy based on its potential for bringing out creativity in children and includes such items as puppets and puppet theaters, toy musical instruments, art supplies and building blocks.
About the author.
Gwynn Torres, founder of The Creativity Institute, is a career advertising writer and creative director, Grammy nominated songwriter/musician and parent of two creative children. In creating these scripts, she has focused her talents on delighting children while including educational value.