Student Puppet Shows Bring Smiles to All

May 23rd, 2012 by Katlin McNally
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Students practice their performance

Where can you find a dragon roaming a mountaintop and a bird learning to sing all in the space of a large table-top? In two CCAD freshman design classes. Adjunct Faculty Nicole Gibbs and Assistant Professor Danielle Julian Norton both recently taught classes where students explored two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements of design by producing puppet shows.

Gibbs’ class performed on May 6 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, while Julian Norton’s class traveled to the Schoenbaum Family Center on May 8.

This is the second year that Gibbs has orchestrated a puppet show and the first for Julian Norton. The groups created everything including characters, scripts, music, puppets, sets, marketing materials, and a final 8–10 minute performance.

Julian-Norton’s class performs for children

“It incorporates everything in design,” Gibbs said. “We have the 2D element of them creating the marketing material for the show, and the 3D element represented in the puppets and set creations.”

Both classes took a team-oriented approach, ensuring that the students involved worked together to create the final performance. Student roles ranged from project manager to performer.

“Teamwork was an essential element to the project, as it is in the design field,” Gibbs said. “Students had a real experience in how to combine ideas and work together under a deadline and expectations.”

“Students worked to embed positive learning messages for the children in each of the puppet show narratives,” Julian Norton said. “The end result was creative and fun, with a rewarding sense of accomplishment for the students.”

Gibbs will be speaking at the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) this October to discuss her use of puppet shows as a vehicle for artmaking through community engagement.

“I hope it will become an idea that other instructors will use with their first-year classes at CCAD and elsewhere,” Gibbs said. “It would be so neat if it could become an annual tradition.”

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