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Travelling Puppet Theatres

The idea is to use the power of community-based folk tales to help develop the character of and educate children ages 2-5 in a playful way through puppets.

Photo of Tino Elgner
18 24

Written by

Including all of the updates and changes up until the 6.12.14, our idea can be described as follows:

The base for the idea is not new; but since it has demonstrated to be successful in one context, it might also be successful in another. The base idea is to create mobile puppet theaters that travel the country and retell orally told folk tales with puppets.

Puppets will reflect a country's culture, and esthetics while the stories, of which many already exist in a written form, will portray the  values, ideology and important behaviors that children need to develop their character and certain "Dos" and "Donts."

Puppet theaters will provide three different types of stories during the time in which they will be part of a community:
  1. Stories for the entire family/community with a pure entertainment purpose
  2. Stories for kids that focus on certain "dos" and "donts" with an education purpose where the hero of the story explains to the kids at the end why they should and shouldn't do certain things
  3. Stories for parents that focus on explaining the "dos" and "donts" that their kids should adapt in addition to stories that focus on healthy practices families and communities should adapt such as growing certain crops in comparison to others (such as vitamin A rich crops)

In addition to the puppet shows, puppet theaters would give workshops to show communities how to create their own puppets and puppet theaters with easily available tools and materials  to use puppets shows as one way to get the communities together and to educate their kids in a playful way. This workshop will focus mainly on the elderly of the community, as it is assumed they are the ones with the most wisdom to share and are stereotypically eager storytellers. As part of the workshop, puppet theaters will sell a "puppet design kit" of which the community would only need to by one each as the knowledge in it should be shared by the community through coming together.
 

Update: 4.12.14

We found a great web about puppetry that has easy to follow puppet creation manuals (check out the videos)

Update: 2.12.14

Thinking about including the elderly of a community is a reocurring theme which has potential to be implemente in the overall idea.

Update 30.11.14

Traveling puppet theaters, as an additional product, could provide/sell "puppet design kits" to enable the communities that were visited a way to implement puppet storytelling in their own communities by showing how to create puppets in an easy and simple way. 

Update 30.11.14

Puppet theaters could provide three types of shows: on the one side they could provide a simple entertaining story with the goal to bring children and families together; on another hand, a story that in simple ways speaks about some "Do´s" and "Dont´s" to education children and build their character; and at last some shows could be only for the parents that focus on the explanaitions of the "Do´s" and "Dont´s" that their kids learned in the previous shows. Shows for parents could also focus on other "problems" and "solutions" that parents need to take care of their kids.

Update: 27.11.14

One could also try to hold some kind of workshop in making the puppets. That way, the folktales will be much 'blended' on the daily life of the children and they will be more familiar with the village's heroes.

Update 25.11.14

Use the elderly in communities to become major storytellers through puppet theathers. Thus, the idea might shift focus to enable communities to create the needed puppets and leave the rest to them.

Update: 24.11.14

To expand the idea it might be useful to think about including a series of "puppet" talks in which the hero of the previously enacted story talks about "does" and "donts" regarding the things that happened in the story to further reinforce the education message behind the stories.

Update 20.11.14:

To get an idea of possible folktales on the African continent, we found a website with several examples that could be used to create the first prototypes of puppets and the actual enactment of the story.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • This idea is meant to inspire. I hope someone else takes it on!

18 comments

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Photo of Ayman Hanafi
Team

Well done Team, a great way of keeping families together. There are lots of good fun stories but no educational benefits. You would need to research lots of books and then there's the translation issue which must be on a professional basis.Getting the children and parents creative by making their own puppets would be ideal, creating confidence and interaction.Best of luck!

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Photo of Uve Kindia
Team

Good idea but maybe you should look at story lines or a guide to be followed. Some stories may be good for entertainment but may not be educational or of good use

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Photo of André Santos Correia
Team

Are the do's and don'ts related to hygiene, moral behaviour or something else?

I so, which parameters are you gong to follow?

The concept of good and bad applies to very different things throughout cultures, are you going to take that into consideration?

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Photo of Khushwant Kasba
Team

Great use of the elderly in communities, who have vast life experiences to tell stories.
Who can add their personal touch into the stories.

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

Hi Khushwant, I cannot agree more with you. In case the idea is taking up by a community by itself, it is a great way of transmitting values and life experiences through the elderly..adding another "customer" to this idea.

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Photo of Sam Graham
Team

I like the puppet idea reminds me of Punch and Judy! One suggestion-
.....Why don't you add an additional workshop where the children can make their own puppets out of recycled materials. I used to do it when I was a child and it definitely helped me creatively. Encourage them to act out their own plays with their own puppets.
Check this website out - http://www.craftprojectideas.com/index.php/videos/1184-easy-puppets-made-with-recycled-materials
Very well thought through idea. Well done

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

Hi Sam, great to see another post of yours :) What is Punch and Judy? Thank you very much for the link to the web. We were already thinking about "how" puppets can be made in a simple way and your post basically just in the right time :)

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Photo of Sam Graham
Team

Punch and judy is a puupet show that is famous on the english beaches look it up i used to love them!

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Photo of Maurizio Bricola
Team

Hi Tino great idea, also the other one you posted about using natural items to make toys. It is really inspiring us too. For our packaging idea we are indeed thinking to focus on cartoon characters theater. So no need to travel the country, packaging will do :) and the commmunity will be able to play different roles (children playing mum and dad, we also thinking to introduce fictional characters like malaria for example) being prompeted by a combination of play cards and stickers. So yes if you like the idea feel free to build on or joining us thinking throuhg, here is a great resource for that: http://www.auntannie.com/Puppets/AnimatedStick/
Cheers

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

hi maurizio, thank you so much for your feedback; i loved the packaging idea of yours. one way how we could "combine" this idea with the puppet theaters might be by creating packaging characters that are actually part of a known folktale in a certain community. this way people could retell a the story but you might also add to your profitability by giving the community to "use" your products as to collect all the characters for the story. It is a bit like the "kinder surprise eggs" made by Ferero; people keep buying the eggs as they want to collect all of the little figures.

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Photo of Maurizio Bricola
Team

Hi Tino I think your ideas are very complementary to the packaging one. Thinking about animated stick puppets theatre, as you suggesting some elements could be found in nature (obviously like the sticks) others derived from packaging (cartoon boards, stickers, play cards, for example). Indeed being able to create a community dynamic and having the communities creating their own narratives through playing with the theatre in order to be able to stimulate behavioural change.
Cheers!

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Photo of ISMI Group4
Team

This is an interesting idea!! Have you ever think that they can gather the folk tales of different regions and make it become a book for children. The charge for the books can reinvest to provide the poor region/communities another show.

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

Hi ISMI Group4, thank you very much for your input. We thought about it and are actually trying to find a good way in which communities might receive some financial aid from this idea; we will bring what you mentioned up in our next meetup. Are you guys working on a similar idea and might want some input from us as well?

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Photo of carilyn c
Team

Fun! i loved puppet shows as a kid... =)

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

Carilyn, thank you very much for your feedback. I loved puppet shows as well as a kid which is why I guess this idea popped into my mind. When you think back to these puppet shows, do you think they were more entertaining than anything else or do you think you really learned something from them??

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Photo of carilyn c
Team

Definitely able to learn vicariously through the imagination even from puppets!

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Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Fun stuff. What kinds of specific messages might you spread? Perhaps you could create a short, playful prototype around a single message?

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Photo of Tino Elgner
Team

Thank you Meena, good point; we used it to research some African Folk Tales to get an idea for a possible prototype