They want to have fun and so are ready. As parents, we know kids can be a tough audience in that their attention span is limited. And if you aren’t delivering and holding that attention they will simply drift off, either mentally or physically, and will just get up and walk away. If we adults go see a show (and pay for it), we’re pretty much staying unless it is so bad that we can’t stand it. For kids, this is due, obviously, to today’s technology where ideas come rapid fire and kids are now used to moving on from one thing to another at dizzying speeds.
But… not if you are really good. If you are confident and adept at holding a room, then kids are the easiest audience because you have their trust and they instictively kniow they are in good hands. So my goal each and every puppet show no matter what the occasion is to play to the whole room, not just the kids. Not with any off color humor, obviously, but just great fun that includes the grown-ups in. Anyone can learn to do a puppet show and handle puppets so they seem animated, but holding a room full of excited children, that’s different.
Puppet shows are not all that hard to learn to do, frankly. The secret is keeping your hands moving so there is the illusion of animation, a living thing. If you hold a puppet limp or stationary for more than a few seconds, it appears to be exactly what it essentially is, a piece of cloth over some kind of foam made to look like a character. But when your hand inside is moving, making the puppet seem like it is looking around and listening to another puppet or your self or the audience, then you have the magic of puppets. The real talent, though, is keeping kid’s attention and making them laugh. When they aren’t laughing, they are still absorbed in whatever conflict you have created that is heading to the next episode or bit or gag designed to have them laughing again. Really it’s about entering children at their level but never “playing down” to them. Just a little insight into what we kids entertainers do.