Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Q: I'd love to submit a puppet play, but I've never seen an amateur performance. Any hints to keep me from being too ambitious with my stage directions?

A: This ties back into the "rely more on dialogue and less on props" bit of advice. Do you want your puppets to manipulate an object? Do you think you could manipulate that object easily if you had a sock on each hand, your arms up in front of you, craning your neck sideways to read the script? It's possible, but not easy. If you want to use a prop, you might think about it being on the stage from the beginning. Many puppet theaters have a sort of shelf that can accommodate props like that. But also keep in mind that the more complicated your stage scenery is, the harder it is to put on your play. Not all libraries are likely to have a puppet-sized computer, or a rain stick, or a model train locomotive in their prop box. And that means that librarians will have to work harder to perform your play.

Q: So, yeah, dialogue. What kind of voice are you looking for?

A: Can you imagine Bert and Ernie performing your play and sounding natural? How about Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse? (YouTube is great for a refresher.) Think casual, think witty, think tongue-in-cheek. Remember that you're not only entertaining two-year-olds, you're also having to entertain their parents and the librarians. Libraries are great places for information... but they're great places for entertainment, too.

Q: When you say, "Characters should be flexible 'types'", what do you mean?

A: Some libraries have a closet chock-full of puppets. Others get by with a cardboard box. What characters does your play call for? If you craft it properly, the librarian should be able to substitute one puppet for another with a minimum adjustment of dialogue. Maybe your play absolutely, positively needs to have a hippopotamus puppet or else the whole thing falls apart, but such plays will really have to amuse and impress us otherwise.

Q: I'm always nervous about anthologies... I don't want to duplicate someone else's angle.

A: Keep checking for updates. We'll keep a running tally of the plays we accept, along with a few pertinent themes each incorporates, just for this purpose. (Look for the label "acceptance".) Just because you see we already accepted someone else's play about returning library books on time doesn't mean we won't accept a second, but if you see we have three or four plays with that theme, you might cast about for an idea that isn't so well-represented. And if it helps any, we're currently receiving about five general anthology subs for every one holiday anthology sub.

Best of luck, and feel free to query for more clarification!

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