Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Puppets Don't Have To Be Creepy

Yes, there is a face in his stomach...
...but let's face it--sometimes, they are! Not to be deterred by the stereotype, however, I recently took the boys to a local marionnette museum. Lyon is particularly proud of their history of puppetry, having their own version of Punch and Judy that cropped up in the early 1800's. The nationally famous Guignol (pronounced gee-nyol with a hard "g") originally came about as a way for discontented Lyonnais to vent frustrations about politics and other heated issues. Strange, then, that the only audience these shows currently attract tends to be under the age of four...

Can you tell it has 2 heads?
Once again...a little weird
After exploring various historical bits of the puppet world from devils to skeletons to nativity scenes, we finally came across Guignol himself! He's the nondescript, snub-nosed brown fellow--second from the left.
Guignol with the devil at his back
He may not be much to look at, but hey--at least he won't give anyone nightmares! I have to admit that there is something truly uncanny about walking through a museum filled with human-like wooden puppets--many of which were dangling half suspended in their cases.

And of course, no field trip on puppets would be complete without actually seeing a puppet show! Now, here is the rather funny part of this experience...I knew that a puppet show would be likely to attract a young audience, but figuring that it would be a good opportunity for the boys to practice French, I decided we'd go anyway. Well...I underestimated how exclusively young the audience would be! Aside from the parents, the tiny puppet theater audience probably had an average age of 4--driven up just slightly by the ages of my own pupils! The boys were good sports about it, though. And watching the kids interact with the puppets was honestly the best part! These kind of shows encourage audience participation, and those little kids were practically dictating the plot the whole time when they weren't all but rolling on the floor with giggles. It was actually fantastic. :) Although it's in French, check out the clip to see what kind of mad house we got ourselves into!


  1. Adding to the list of stuff that freaks me out:

    1. Clowns
    2. Scary movies of any kind
    3. Puppets

    1. Ha! Oh no!! That wasn't the idea...I was just saying they're a bit uncanny... And truthfully, I didn't find them very creepy at all. The boys thought they were creepy--I just found them fascinating. However, if I found myself in there alone at night and then the lights went out, I would likely feel quite unsettled... :)