Friday, January 13, 2012

Well, life on a farm is kinda laid back -OR-How I wrote the farm show part 1

I was hired earlier in the Fall to perform a puppet show at the Greenburgh Nature Center on "A FARM."
So, just wondering, how does a topic, like "A FARM" become a fleshed out, cohesive and satisfying puppet show?

Thanks for asking! When I receive a topic, I begin to "tune my dial" to that topic in the world around me, looking for inspiration. I browse children's books at the library, play with my kids relating to the subject, listen to all sorts of music to see what grabs me, and open myself up to whatever comes up.

With this particular show about a farm, for example, I started with a song from my 5th grade chorus concert,"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" by John Denver. I remember standing on the risers performing this song,the solo-ist belting out the country lyrics as we chanted, "Boom chicka boom chicka boom chick........boom chick."
As I learned the song on the ukulele, I imagined I was a farmer with a country lifestyle and I built the show around the song's sentiment "Well life on the farm is kind of laid back, ain't nothing a country boy like me can't hack, it's early to rise and early in the sack, thank God I'm a country boy!" YEEEHAW!
From there, I moved to another country song,"Momma's in the kitchen makin' shortnin', shortnin', Momma's in the kitchen making shortnin' bread..." a tune from a video that Lily used to watch when she was two. The two songs that I was practicing had so much character, that combined with "Old McDonald," "You are My Sunshine," and a slight adaption of the Pete Seeger song, "Bluebird through my window" I had the makings of the the musical sections!

Now, I had to inventory my puppets and see what could be applied to a farm theme. I made a sheep puppet who was born to rap with Wormie, then a quick duck sock puppet for the bird number. I turned the squirrels into farm interlopers, who jump onto the fence of the horse pen to tease the animals. Sally (sockpuppet)with the awesome hair visits the farm because the various farm activities make her hair look 'excellent'. I changed Bertha's fancy blouse and made her the spirited farmer's wife who gives out eggs from the henhouse.

Then, after components exist, I try to blend them into a form that makes sense to an audience. I created some movement segments, got my hands on a cowbell, painted scenery, drew a coloring page, wrote out the scenes and mixed them around to see what order worked best, put together a costume and....VOILA. A farm show is born. MOOOOOOOOOOOO.

That's all for part 1~ See you around the farm! yeehaw.
peace, Jilly