I am no stranger to political puppetry.
I remember the first puppet show I saw as an adult, almost 18 years ago. It was the Lorax, and it was probably the best political puppet show I have ever seen.
Back then I was in Minneapolis, and I was involved with a fair amount of political puppetry. One of my mentors, Christopher Lutter, was famous for making his “big heads” of Cheney, Bush, and Rumsfeld. Those were enormous masks that made the wearer look like a giant bobble head. 9 years later those bobble heads were a direct inspiration for me. I worked with children in two after school programs to build my giant Barack Obama puppet, which is 10 feet tall. The children in that program then wrote Obama letters, and sent pictures of themselves with the puppet.
I was in a few political protests while I was in Minneapolis. I remember one time I got dressed up as zombie Ronald Macdonald. There were a whole lot of police on the streets that day, and I remember walking past all those police officers waving at them and then rubbing my belly like I had a really nasty bellyache. I loved watching their faces go from deadly serious, to cracking up with laughter.
Another time I made a puppet that resembled a local reporter in Minneapolis, and confronted her with it while she was interviewing me in the street. Suddenly the reporter was face to face with a smaller version of herself and asking herself the same stupid question she asked me the previous occasion. I still remember how the camera man was cracking up. My puppet did end up on TV that night, although only in the background as the reporters ‘explained’ what the protest was about.
I moved back to St Louis 16 years ago, and since then I have found myself only going to one protest a year; the Martin Luther King day March. Often at that march I see kids from the schools where I work, and they are always excited to see the big Obama puppet.
I have always liked doing street theater. Busking is fun, but is a lot of work for a small amount of money. I think protesting with your puppet is pretty much the same thing as busking. You say the same basic thing over and over again to people as they walk past. It is a lot of fun really, and I definitely feel that I am ready to start doing it again.
Anyway, what I have been trying to say is that I have made a new puppet. I hope you like it. I hope you think it is tremendous.