Monday, 24 September 2012

Ugly Beauty (and a new hobby?)

We went to see this puppet show on Saturday afternoon.  Chris is very interested in puppetry and did his dissertation on it at University.  I have always liked the way children react to puppets and tried to include them in my teaching whenever I could (to me, learning should = FUN!)  This particular company has a very good reputation, so when I noticed an advert in the local paper, I booked up.  There were quite a few children at the performance, but on the whole, they were well behaved.
The story was a relatively simple one.  In one part of the land, there lived a one-legged musician called Melo who was treated badly by most people, including the beautiful princess, Suzanna.  She was so beautiful, she had to wear a golden mask, so as not to blind anyone who saw her radiance.  However, she was unhappy and this made her nasty.  Eventually, Melo's music helps her to remove her mask and show her for what she really is, a normal girl, who finally feels free and so is able to be happy and pleasant once more.
The music in this performance was played by the puppeteer, Daniel Lempen, using a Xaphoon (Za-foon), which sounds like a mixture of clarinet and saxophone, but has holes in it, like a recorder.  There is a link to Lempen Puppets' website and to Ugly Beauty here and you can hear the Xaphoon too.  It was a magical show and we had the opportunity to speak to Mr Lempen afterwards and to look at the puppets close up, which fired Chris' creativity again.
Chris and I really liked the idea of the Xaphoon as it is portable and creates a lovely sound (once the player has got the hang of it), so decided to investigate on the internet and have ordered two (very exciting).  I'll keep you posted on our progress.  Perhaps I should warn the neighbours that there will be strange and horrible sounds emanating from our house over the next few weeks. On second thoughts, perhaps I'll just leave it as a surprise for them! 


  1. What fun, Ellie! Hope you are going to post an audio clip of your new xaphoons once you've got the hang of them! I too love puppets - just something so engaging about them. As a child I used to put on puppet shows with homemade puppets with my sister at Christmas to entertain the family. It was enormous fun although my sister and I had to keep doubling up on parts! We made the puppets, props, scenery and everything and the puppet theatre was made out of my mother's clothes horse and a pair of old kitchen curtains! "Those were the days my friend"....! E x

    1. Dear E
      Thank you for your comment. We'll definitely post about our progress (and possibly an audio clip if Chris can work than out) but not until we can make a nice sound, rather than a strangulated wheeze (which is what I'm expecting initially!)
      Those were the days indeed - creativity was always there and the only limit was the imagination. Sometimes I feel that children today are missing out on all that. Of course, this could just be my perception of childhood today and not how it is really. I hope so.
      Clothes Horses were wonderful things, weren't they? Puppet theatres, dens, castles and whatever else you wanted them to be. Ah, the nostalgia... Thank you for reminding me!
      Best wishes

    2. I really should proof read before posting but I'll put it down to being a bit late. That should read "and possibly an audio clip if Chris can work that out".
      (And she lifts her eyes heavenwards with an exasperated sigh).
      Best wishes