Thursday, June 6, 2013

Maker of Faces Puppeteer

Born on the 10th day of June, it was the perfect summer day, the kind of day that lemonade stands make their biggest profits, and balloon fights are a must-have in the smaller neighborhoods and grandparent’s houses are bursting at the seams with their children and grandchildren, all catching up for lost time. This was the day that the Maker of Faces Puppeteer was born, and it was perhaps the last perfect day of her life.
                Her parents named her Phoebe after some dead relative that nobody really liked or remembered. Her parent’s names and occupations are unimportant, all that you need to know is that her father was a drunk and her mother was chronically depressed, these two things greatly affected Phoebe’s childhood, as it would anybody else’s. Details into Phoebe’s childhood, while interestingly horrific are very typical and can be found in practically any dysfunctional family. The belt beatings, the being locked and forgotten in closets, the drunken arguments, were all standard features in Phoebe’s life.
                One day which turned out to be very significant was when Phoebe’s sixth grade class went on a school fieldtrip. They went to a theatre in which the students were entertained by two puppet shows. One had many, many different types of puppets were used, some from Asian culture, others were of Germany and of French making, and one had been fashioned together by the puppeteers themselves for that very show.  Many of her classmates frond this show “boring” and lacking “spunk”, they would have liked it better if the story had been done by real people and not puppets, because the puppets made the fight scene “lame”. Phoebe however, was deeply fascinated by the show. The second puppet show was of Rip Van Winkle, and in this, gigantic puppets were used. These puppets were so large the performers actually had to wear the puppets on them, kind of like the characters in Disneyland, but these puppets were huge, most of them stood over seven feet tall. This was so incredible that even Phoebe’s classmates were left in an awestruck silence throughout the show. Phoebe was impressed, but while there was much to be said about the actors stamina and skill, much of what the puppets didn’t seem to be as controlled as those from the first show with the smaller puppets.
Phoebe had decided before she left the theatre that she had picked her life career: she was going to become a puppeteer. While Phoebe didn’t know it then and maybe still wouldn’t be able to express it clearly now, but what appealed to her most that day was the control the puppeteers had over their puppets. In her tumultuous life, Phoebe didn’t seem to have much control of anything. Being a puppeteer was a way for her to be completely and totally in control of something, albeit an inanimate object, but if she did it well enough, she could give that object a life of its own, and with her in charge, she would be sure it was a good one. The most beautiful part was, if Phoebe messed up, no one got hurt, but she wouldn’t mess up, she wouldn’t allow herself to…
She made her first puppet in the sixth grade art class, while it was only pieces of paper and string, Phoebe was quite pleased with how the ballerina would almost always move her legs went the string was pulled and her right arm only hung limply without any response some of the time. It was much better than most of her classmates. Most of them had used too much tape and their puppet’s limbs couldn’t move at all, and they remained stationary in, some rather charming, most rather awkward positions.
                Phoebe bought her first professionally made German puppet when she was seventeen from the money she saved from dog sitting. The only high school courses she had interest in were woodshop, dance and theatre, anything else just seemed like a waste of time to her: barriers, keeping her away from what she actually wanted to do, make puppets and puppeteer (the dance class helped her understand the movement of human bodies better, so that she could then teach it to her puppets).
                She got her current job with the Fantasia Company quite by accident when she was twenty-one; she literally stumbled upon it, or rather tripped over it. Someone had left one of the life sizes puppets partially out of a theatre backstage door which faced an alleyway. Phoebe had been trying to train one of her neighbors more unruly dogs a new trick down the street from the alley when he broke loose and ran off.  When she pursued the dog she turned a sharp corner down the alley and tripped over the puppet’s leg, landing Phoebe face first in the gravel. She had turned to yell at who had tripped her, and to her surprise and bewildered delight, it was a puppet. So life like was this puppet; she had to take a closer look. The runaway dog was for a time, completely forgotten. Whilst examining it, the puppet’s owner came out into the alley for a smoke. The two struck up a conversation and before the dog returned to Phoebe, (it’s no fun running away from someone if they aren’t running after you) she had a job at the company and was cast for an upcoming show.
                Phoebe never quiet understood why The Maker of Faces Puppet didn’t already have a puppeteer. She didn’t know that the other puppeteers were intimidated by the large skirt that the puppet sported and the entire Fantasia cast had breathed a sigh of relief when the boss and managed to sucker someone else into being its puppet master. Phoebe loved the puppet’s skirt and while she had never worked with any puppet of this size, she was excited for the challenge and grateful that she had taken all those dancing classes in high school. Not only did it help her work out the puppet’s movements to make it a graceful, and life-like as the puppet appeared to be, but it helped her meet the physical demands to work with this puppet. While it wasn’t as huge as the Rip Van Winkle puppets from her sixth grade fieldtrip, a rehearsal was still one hell of a work out.
                Phoebe didn’t really care what the other puppeteers did and didn’t do during rehearsal; all she did was concentrate on was her puppet. After a while, like with most of Phoebe’s puppets, The Maker of Faces seemed to come to life and have a personality of its own. This was true for the other puppets in the show as well. While the other puppets rebelled against their masters and didn’t seem to wish to please anybody but themselves, The Maker of Faces seemed to want to please Phoebe. At the slightest movement of her right hand, the Maker of Faces would complete a perfect gesture. It appeared at times that The Maker of Faces would do things without the command at all, this ruffled Phoebe’s feathers a little. After all, she was the master, she should be the one in charge of that happened when, but The Maker of Faces never did any real harm, so Phoebe chose ignored it.

                All she hoped was The Maker of Faces would stay focused and didn’t get too excited or distracted during the show…

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