Sunday, July 27, 2008
My First PVC Puppet Stage
My brother and I first started performing puppet shows professionally after attending the 1993 Puppeteers of America National Festival in San Francisco. We worked under the name The Johnson Brothers Puppets, and our first puppet show was The Wizard of Oz.
One of our early public performances was at the San Francisco Bay Area Puppeteers Guild annual Day of Puppetry in Children’s Fairyland, Oakland. At this event, Patrick and I debuted our brand new puppet stage. It was made from PVC pipe, and based on a design published in the puppetry festival hand book.
All of the pipes were measured and cut based on the specifications, and placed in a sturdy fabric sack. When show time rolled around, Patrick and I dumped out the poles and realized that we had insufficiently labeled them. We were faced with a pile of about twenty or so nearly identical white PVC pipes that could be assembled any number of ways - it looked like an over sized version of Pick Up Sticks.
It took a long time, but we managed to piece the stage together. After that show, we marked each pipe and connector with spray paint - red with a yellow dot, green with a red dot, etc. It was still complicated.
After doing a fair number of shows, we got pretty fast at setting up the stage - especially considering it’s complexity. That stage served us well, but we were ready to move on to something more streamlined and structurally sound.