Puppeteer and His Marionettes
Copyright 2023 by Sara Etgen-Baker
Photo by Miguel
Alcântara on Unsplash
puppeteer’s only concern is how well he can manipulate his
marionettes.” Steven Redhead
There was a freezing
chill in the December air. Rosy cheeked, Grammy and I stood in line
outside the theater stomping our feet to keep warm; pulling our
woolen hats over reddened ears; and tightening our scarves around our
necks. At noon, the theater door finally opened, and a black-caped
man announced, “Welcome to Le
Theatre de Marionette.”
Grammy and I edged
our way through the crowd and found two seats near the front of the
tiny theater. I sat with my hands in my lap, listening to the faint
music playing from behind the curtain and watching kids of all shapes
and sizes milling about.
watching the pretty puppets, don’t you?” asked a little
girl sitting next to me.
know.” I replied, fixing my eyes on the tiny stage in front of
me. “This is my first puppet show.”
her eyes widened in disbelief.
Within seconds, the
room darkened. The curtain slowly lifted; and five hardheaded,
tiny-handed, squeaking characters moved about the stage with odd,
wild, unpredictable motions. I
cringed when I looked too closely at their disproportionate bodies
and deformed faces. One
had staring eyes and leering teeth; another had an impossibly blue
face like a monster. I
at the other
children who sat motionless, absorbed in watching the distorted
loup!” the children cried out hoping to warn the puppet hero
about the wolf puppet.
I looked beyond the
blackened staged and discovered the marionettes were suspended on a
number of strings connected to a central rod that one man controlled
from above. Was
only kid in the audience who realized that someone behind the stage
was controlling the puppets? Was I the only kid who noticed that one
voice was the voice for all the characters?
production, the puppeteer dramatically unveiled himself to us
children, demonstrating his skill in manipulating each character with
strings and wires. I left disappointed feeling the entire production
was more about the puppeteer and less about the characters and their
I recently reflected
upon my afternoon at Le
Theatre de Marionette
with the puppeteer and his marionettes. I pondered, Am
I like that puppeteer? Do I hide behind the stage of life
controlling situations and manipulating others? Do I make everything
not an out-and-out control freak or a mindless master manipulator.
But I readily admit to being controlling and manipulative in certain
situations, wanting the people in my life to do things my way. Although I’m
not narcissistic and don’t believe the world revolves entirely
around me, I admit to sometimes being self-absorbed and boastful. On
the other hand, I’m mindful, capable of relinquishing control
and becoming a marionette on someone else’s strings.
Why the duality?
Perhaps that’s human nature.
don’t know. But I’m
beginning to understand that life is a complex stage wherein I’m
learning to be content in being less of a puppeteer and more of a
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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