Puppets. Not the most unique thing to address. Who doesn’t use puppets with children? Who hasn’t done some kind of arts and crafts project with puppets? We’ve all grown up with them. Sesame Street is only one year younger than I am, which means I don’t remember life without that show. We know why kids love the many child-friendly puppets out there-they are innocent, cute, animated, and they have funny voices.
Puppets are usually presented in such a way that children can relate to. They are curious and have lots of questions about the world. Without making young spectators feel unintelligent, skilled puppeteers make the puppets “learn” from the adult characters who interact with them, thus indirectly teaching the children. Can we therefore come to the conclusion that adults are uninterested in puppets and get nothing out of them? Nope.
We all need a friendly face to look at; the source almost doesn’t matter. That’s why smiling is contagious. That’s part of the reason pet therapy works. That may be the reason that Tom Hanks' character drew a face on a volleyball using his bloody handprint in the movie “Cast Away” and named it. It is human nature to seek out a face to relate to.
In my experience, some of the most positive and pleasantly surprised reactions to puppets in the hospital have come from the employees in the emergency department. We have walked by looking for more children to interact with when nurses or housekeeping staff rushing by have stopped to smile at a puppet. Most of us were not ventriloquists so our mouths would be moving, but nobody cared! No one looked at us, they looked at the puppets.
Good times, good times:
One of my favorite moments with the security check-in guards was when we appeared in the lobby dancing to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars while holding puppets. Hospital visitors stopped in their tracks when the guards got up from their desks to dance with us! The lobby morphed into a dance party for a couple of minutes...a magical moment in the life of a hospital clown.
Lucy E. Nunez has been a theatrical performer since 2002 and an improv performer since 2003. She created Nurse Lulu for the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit in 2014. She is now Baptist Children's Hospital first-ever resident clown! For more information please visit: www.sunnybearbuds.wix.com/buds