Do you speak puppetry

Puppetry as an alternative form of communication

Farryl Hadari has been an educator in the field of puppetry for more than 30 years. She has initiated many puppetry projects... read more.

A Puppet That Explored a Political Issue

In this Political Puppetry class, another group chose to work on the dilemma of "the fence". The Israeli government was in the process of constructing a fence along its borders. Its stated purpose is to prevent terrorists from entering Israel. Its ability to do this and the justification of its existence has been subjects of public debate. The students in this group elected to depict the fence as a nine- foot tall puppet, creating a personification for the concept and dilemma of the fence. Within the group, there were varied opinions about the construction and function of the fence, but the main feeling was that they simply did not know whether the fence was necessary and what its true purpose was. They did not want to make a comment about the fence; rather, they wanted to present the bewildering predicament of its existence to the campus population.

They designed and constructed a nine-foot tall rod puppet. It was all white. Its head and hands were made of foam rubber; its body and arms were made of a twenty-foot long length of white plastic fencing. The finished appearance was of a na�ve, juvenile, cute figure. The students said that they wanted it to look like the Pillsbury doughboy.

It began its performance in a central, open area of the college. When students came near the puppet, it tried to enclose them in its arms. It was trying to do its duty as a fence. Most of the people who became fenced in were surprised and did not like being closed in the arms of the fence. The majority of people reacted by pushing the puppet away. To this reaction, the puppet exclaimed, ""Why won't you let me do my job? You created me? You brought me here? What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go?" He gave the impression of a �little", lost child.

This introduction quickly produced an audience of curious students and teachers. My students, then, began the scripted part of their presentation. They enacted characters from different sectors of the Israeli population such as: an ultra religious Jew, and an Israeli Arab, and a young Israeli after her army service. Each one of these characters interacted with "The Fence" puppet and told it where to stand and what to do. Each individual gave "The Fence" different directions and instructions. "The Fence" was left in an extremely perplexed state. It turned to the audience and repeated its plea, "You brought me here. What do you want me to do? I want to do whatever you need me to do. Where should I stand? What am I supposed to do?"

The audience could not provide it with a solid answer. However, at the conclusion of the puppet performance, many members of the audience began to discuss the topic of "the fence" among their selves. Its personification as a na�ve, innocent character created a path of empathy towards "the fence". Thus, the fence itself did not have to carry the burden of being the major issue. This facilitated a research of the proposed functions and justifications for the construction of the fence, which was truly where the focus needed to be.

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