Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Chanukkah present

For those who have gazed out of their car windows and noticed a woman slowly and unsteadily wandering around town in a long fluffy coat, that's me. I have been struggling with vertigo the past few weeks. My whole working life is physical; I am flummoxed, to put it mildly. How am I supposed to dance and perform puppet shows and be funny and lively, or wear a frog costume, or dance, when I am gripping the walls as I walk and attempting to not fall and hit my head!? I have cancelled a lot over the past few weeks, which is a DOOZY when you're a freelancer and then on top of the vertigo, I got nailed with a wicked virus on Monday night! By Tuesday I had lost my voice and was advised by my doctor to be completely silent for 24 hours and that maybe I would be able to perform my annual Chanukkah puppet show on Thursday at the Warner library. So, starting on Wednesday, I set out to revamp the puppet show to make it less physical and to not require my voice. I had written the show to be heavily musical- lots of ukulele singing and dancing and storytelling. I am used to leading the show with my voice-narration, leading the songs, engaging the adults and kids in the activities...OY VEY!! So I wrote and wrote and modified the show, but something was still missing. I listened to Chanukkah music all day Wednesday and was extremely silent and listened for inspiration. By Thursday morning, I admittedly was a little nervous-I still hadn't nailed the show into a new format. The phone rang- it was the nurse from Ruby's school. Would I come over and give her some medicine? She was having an allergic reaction to something and her nose was running. I grabbed the Children's Benadryl and my earphones and headed out into the gray and rainy day, walking slowly and unsteadily. I played my favorite Chanukkah song this year, “Miracle” by the Maccabeats over and over on my Ipod. I must have listened to it 5 times and on the corner as I turned to walk up to school, IT HIT ME. I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE. GO FOR IT. In what felt like a Chanukkah miracle of artistic inspiration, I came up with the silliest opening scene for the show. I figured that either that it would flop hugely, or that I would have the audience with me for the rest of the show. I felt it in my chest. It was ridiculous and out there and crazy and I had never done anything like it before. It was show time, Thursday afternoon. Lily read the opening posterboard to the audience for me- “ Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cats and kittens- I have lost my voice. I have a great show for you and with your cooperation, we're going to have a great show celebrating Chanukkah.” She had the crowd count to twenty while I dashed out the door and into the librarian's desk to change into a dancing zebra puppet costume with a gold glittery potato latke hat. She clicked 'Miracle' on the stereo and I goofily and awkwardly disco danced into the room with the zebra puppet attached to my wrists, neck, knees and ankles to this song about Chanukkah miracles. The crowd giggled and a few kids got up to dance with me. There happened to be a group of teenagers in the room (not my usual puppet show demographic) and their surprised faces seemed to say “ Wow. That woman is dancing like a complete fool with a zebra puppet strapped to her body. There might be something sort of cool about that.” I danced the whole song with the Chanukkah miracle puppet and then continued to do a mostly silent movie, vaudeville type of puppet show. The crowd was gracious and attentive and kind and I thought that the show was even better than it would have been if I had my usual faculties! What a beautiful Chanukkah present, as the sun set outside of the children's room at the library and we celebrated the last night of Chanukkah.


Unknown said...

Ohhhh, mama, I lost my voice this week, too. Wish I had as graceful and bold a way to deal with it.

Jilly Puppets said...

I hope you are feeling better. Yeah, it was pretty cool to access a whole other performance approach. I felt really good about it. Xoj