For over 15 years the Auburn Public Library has put on puppet shows for the community, but recently the staff has converted the shows to be viewed virtually.
The library normally has puppet shows every Friday, but their first virtual show was the first week of October.
Ashley Brown, engagement and outreach librarian at the Auburn Public Library, said it was a process making their puppet shows accessible through Zoom. Though the staff is experienced with the puppetry side of production, it took trial and error to find the most effective way to translate the puppet shows into video production.
Before each puppet show, she said they do a sound test and lighting test. They also test the tripod, the camera angles and whether or not the puppets are in frame, Brown said.
“It’s actually been pretty challenging,” she said. “We worked for several weeks to get the lighting right and get the video right.”
The library staff also works on writing a script for the performances. Brown said many of the shows are based on books. However, she said they also take into consideration upcoming holidays and what stories would fit well for the nature of that week.
Most of the people on staff take turns performing, including Brown, Cynthia Ledbetter, programming specialist; Valerie Temple, programming specialist; Cristina Lee, library assistant and Susanna Loosier, library assistant.
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Brown, Ledbetter and Temple were trained in puppetry at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, and they have taught some of the puppetry techniques to other coworkers, she said.
They purchase most puppets from Folkmanis, a puppet manufacturing company.
“I don’t have an exact number, but I bet we do have over 100 puppets,” she said.
For some performances, Brown said a staff member may request a new puppet. However, this doesn’t happen often as they can put on many original performances with the puppets they have.
“We usually can produce any show we want to produce,” she said.
With virtual performances, Brown said they miss interacting with their audience and regular attendees.
“We sure are missing seeing our families coming into the puppet shows, and of course all performers love applause,” she said.
Brown said she is glad to be able to continue the performances, even if it’s in a new format, and she hopes those at home are enjoying them as well.
According to their website, the next puppet show is “The Paper Bag Princess.” It is the tale of a princess attacked by a fire-breathing dragon, and she must fight the dragon to rescue her prince.
The performances will be on Jan. 15 at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Each puppet show lasts 30 minutes.
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