Friday, June 12, 2009

Manatees, Japanese, Writing and Lightning


Clams were crabby while the crabs were blue, at least until he found true love. Vibrant jellyfish danced under the lights of the ocean, to a reggae band led by clown fish. All the while a lost manatee searched for home, with the help of her companions the gull and the loggerhead. Crazy fishermen and sand sharks threatened, but a heroic dolphin saved the day. 

Our family watched "The Amazing Adventures of Chessie the Manatee" put on at our local science museum today. Free Family Fun in efforts to revitalize downtown. The puppeteers from Rainbow Puppets performed bunraku, a Japanese style puppetry where visible performers manipulate large puppets. I watched my boys, who were captured for the 46 minutes of the performance, and came up with a few thoughts:

1: You could tell the performers loved what they were doing. They had fun, which made everyone in the auditorium want to join the party. Puppets and their performers came off the stage and into the crowd and engaged the audience in the story. Even pausing for a few brief seconds for a pat on the head by some anxious kids.

2: They did not have a whole lot of bells and whistles. Sure they had a lot of puppets but as you can tell from the picture, the scenery was limited. They used what they had and created an environment that was engaging. Instead of describing it for the kids, they helped them imagine it for themselves. If you would have asked any kid in there, they would tell you exactly what the scenery looked like, even though they never saw it. 

3: Throughout the story, a news caster fish would educate us on the bay and the environment, it was learning, but it was fun, so it did not really feel like learning. Catchy songs that layered the learning opportunities reinforced the message. They knew their audience and created an experience just for them. The language, type of music, their whole methodology pointed toward kids learning about the animals of the bay, the environment and challenges they endure.

As a student of communication, it was fun to watch the performers masterfully use their skills and take away a few things I can keep in mind when I speak or write. The boys just thought it was cool, then wanted to go back to the lightning machine to shock mom and dad again.

10 comments:

Ronda Laveen said...

I have seen this type of puppetry before and it is really interesting. I like lightning machines too!

The Things We Carried said...

I hope I get to see something like it one day!

Ronda Laveen said...

I am enjoying the story virus.

Lorraine said...

Isn't it lovely how art can get the message across like nothing else, I enjoyed this very much :)

Daniel said...

Nice post. I have found that when I take my little one to some age-appropriate activity, I have just as good a time as she does. Maybe because I have the mental development of an 11 year old?

Rob said...

Sounds like a great day.

Brian Miller said...

@ronda - it was pretty fun! the kids had a blast. don't know if the lightning machine was malfunctioning, but if they touched it and grabbed one of us, we got quite a shock!

@things we carried - hope you have a great summer! think you would enjoy it!

@lorraine - expecially kids seems to engage more with arts and when you let them participate. somewhere we lose that it seems. have sat in too many trainings where i was lectured....blah!

@daniel - ha. i must have the same level of development as well...

@rob - was a blast. all the museums in downtown Roanoke were open tot he public for free. we spent all afternoon in the science museum and planetarium. Fred Rogers joined us (virtually) to welcome us to his Neighborhood.

subtorp77 said...

Brian,you're supposed to feel a harder jolt from that machine, as you're at the end of the build-up. In any case, this sounds like a fun place and I do miss the neighbourhood. Neat!

Lola said...

My son would have loved this show, he's the Doc Ricketts of Roma... Wait 'til I take him to the Monterey Bay Acquarium this summer!

I love these family posts, they give us such insight (and reasurance). It means what we're doing is good for our kids.

Ciao!

Mrsupole said...

It sounds like everyone enjoyed this show. It is good to do things as a family. Try to do as much as you can together now because as they get older they will want to do things with their friends. Children are precious. Time with children is precious.

God bless.