Puppetry is one of the things that Steiner felt was so healing for children (and I think it is healing for adults as well, look how entranced we all become when we go to the Waldorf holiday faires and see those beautiful archetypal images in the puppet shows?). Puppetry, to me, is something that is so over-looked most of the time, and can have such a dramatic impact on your storytelling for your children.
The first resource I think of regarding Waldorf puppetry is the wonderful Suzanne Down’s website at www.junipertreepuppets.com. She has a wonderful newsletter that comes out with a seasonal story and a puppetry idea. She has three books out: Autumn Tales, Spring Tales and a puppetry around the world kind of book. I have all of them and love them. These gentle seasonal tales are just right for children under the age of 7, especially for the children who love nature. You can get these books through Suzanne, and also through the Rudolf Steiner College Bookstore. Suzanne also has wonderful wool roving and puppetry kits that are worth ordering from her and waiting for! It is my dream to do some longer puppetry workshops with her. I did take a workshop with her the last time she was here in town and it was so wonderful!
There are two other resources I really like for puppetry – one is the little booklet “Plays for Puppets” , which is a little book of typical Waldorf puppet plays and the other is Christel Dhom’s “Making Magical Fairy-Tale Puppets.” Also, the book “Toymaking with Children” has extensive instructions for making simple silk marionettes and simple marionettes for children to use.
You can use a silk on your lap for a simple puppetry stage like Suzanne Down and many Waldorf Kindergarten teachers do, but honestly I would eventually like to have a small platform stage built with some mountains cut out of plywood attached to the back (that way I could throw silks over them or they could be mountains) for my own home puppet shows. ( Uh, doesn’t every Waldorf household want one of these? LOL).
I also think a very indispensible part of puppetry is music, and I love the little book “Plays for Puppets” because most of those plays do feature music that comes into the story. The music, along with the veils of color the silks provide, is very important in its work for the child’s soul.
As you head into the contemplation that The Holy Nights gives us all as a gift, consider how you might bring more puppetry into your circle times, your verses and songs and your stories. The feeding of your child’s soul is well worth this effort.
Perhaps you can come along with me and what I am doing in the New Year. I am going to work toward making the puppets for “The Snow Maiden” from “Plays for Puppets” to put on at the end of January. Many of you probably know this Russian tale of the older childless couple who receives a snow daughter for a bit of time, a wonderful tale perfect for these long days of winter.
Just a few thoughts from my little corner of the world.