Since 2003, March 21st has been celebrated as World Puppetry Day. The day was originally selected by UNIMA (UNION INTERNATIONALE DE LA MARIONNETTE). In the United States, The National Day of Puppetry (historically celebrated by the Puppeteers of America) is now merged with World Puppetry day to create a worldwide, unifying puppetry celebration. This year the City of Pittsburgh and the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh are working to also declare March 21st Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry. Guild activities, including a public Puppet Happy Hour open to adults 21 and over, will soon be announced.
Puppetry is an art form that is accessible to all. This year, consider doing something a bit different, maybe a bit weird or unexpected on March 21st. Here are some suggestions:
- Post a selfie, video or tweet with a puppet. Get a puppet at the store, make a puppet, or glue some google eyes on a can of tomato soup. A puppet can be anything that you animate with your hands before an audience.
- Help a child make a puppet or put on a puppet show. You only need some paper lunch bags, some construction paper, scissors, marker or crayons and a glue stick. Or get fancy and use your old socks. Fire up the hot glue gun and attach things. Don’t let the kids use the hot glue!
- Take a puppet to a public place. Take a marionette, ventriloquist doll or hand puppet to the park, diner, food court at the mall, etc. Just practice movement and voices. Don’t ask for donations (unless you have a permit). If anyone asks what you are doing, tell them that it’s World Puppetry Day.
- Do some research into the history of puppetry. Wikipedia claims that puppetry has been around for 4000 years. But can we trust Wikipedia? Do some exploration to see how puppetry has evolved over time, how it is still used widely in the theater world and how traditions differ from country to country. Call your local librarian!
- If you go to a museum or other cultural activity, ask where the puppets are. If they don’t have a puppet activity, ask them if they will have one next year on World Puppetry Day.
- Try to use puppets to explore a difficult topic. Have a debate with puppets. Use the puppet to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Think about their point of view. Don’t get mad at the puppeteer. It’s the puppet who’s talking!