Puppets on the houseboat

In my previous post, I mentioned that we did a puppet play on the boat, and promised to elaborate.

As part of our activities involving the children, we made a two puppets from packaged kits. I made a caterpillar, and my cousin Rosemary made an ostrich. Mum suggested I should write a puppet play including these characters, and with some help from my sister’s fiance (who contributed a couple of key ideas to the plot, including the ending) I did so. A sock puppet bird and a paper butterfly were constructed as minor characters, and the play was performed after one rehearsal.

The actors/puppeteers were Kate (who acted the part of the tree, the cave and the rock), Kaye, Rebecca, Ellis and myself (as narrator). People in the audience were Mum, Dad, Sue, Robert, Katrina, Rosemary and Leah.

A transcript of my narrative appears below.

There was once a tall green tree on a little sandy island in the middle of a wide, wet river.

One morning, a little black bird boasted to all the animals that it had discovered a wonderful secret. “But”, said the bird to each of the animals, “I won’t tell you what the secret is unless you meet me tomorrow morning at the top of the tall green tree on the little sandy island in the middle of the wide wet river.”

Most of the animals didn’t care to know about the wonderful secret. “It’s probably only wonderful to birds”, they said. But the ostrich was really upset. A tiny furry caterpillar overheard the tall feathery ostrich saying to itself, “I’m the only bird in Africa who can’t fly, and tomorrow I’ll be the only bird in Africa who doesn’t know the wonderful secret. All the other birds could easily fly to the top of the tall green tree on the little sandy island in the middle of the wide wet river.”

The tiny caterpillar felt very sorry for the ostrich, but there was nothing much it could do. By this time, it was nearly the middle of the day, and so the caterpillar went and hid inside a cave to keep out of the sun.

Inside the cave, a soft, spooky voice whispered to the caterpillar. “Flying is easy”, the voice said. “I can teach anyone to fly. I could teach you.” The caterpillar thought about this, and decided, “I’ll go and tell the ostrich that there is someone in the cave who can teach people to fly. Then the ostrich can fly to the top of the tall green tree tomorrow morning and learn the wonderful secret.” Just as the caterpillar was crawling out of the cave to go and see the ostrich, the soft, spooky voice said, “Come back tonight, and I’ll teach you to fly.”

Later that afternoon, the caterpillar found the ostrich and tried to tell it about the soft, spooky voice in the cave. But the ostrich was so tall and the caterpillar was so small that the ostrich didn’t hear the caterpillar at all.

Later that evening, the caterpillar climbed to the top of a big rock and waited for the ostrich to walk by. “This way”, thought the caterpillar, “I can talk to the ostrich face-to-face.” But the ostrich didn’t walk by. It came closer and closer, then turned and walked off in another direction.

By now, the tiny furry caterpillar was feeling very tired, so it reluctantly gave up trying to tell the tall, feathery ostrich about the soft, spooky voice in the cave, and went back there to sleep. There was a little green shrub growing right at the mouth of the cave, and the tiny furry caterpillar climbed up the little green shrub, knitted itself a tiny white sleeping bag, and dozed off.

The next morning, all the birds except for the ostrich were gathered at the top of the tall green tree on the little sandy island in the middle of the wide wet river.

And a pretty little butterfly was there too. Only yesterday, the butterfly had been a tiny furry caterpillar, but now it could fly. The butterfly listened to what the little black bird had to say, which was that Colonel Sanders had invented Kentucky Fried Ostrich, with eleven herbs and spices that weren’t secret any more.

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