Five years and one month ago, I saw a flyer on a bulletin board in a Vietnamese sandwich shop. It read “Like puppets? Enjoy working with children? Puppetworks is now hiring!” I had no idea what the company was, but I called anyway because I was looking for a job.
A month later I made my debut as a professional marionette puppeteer in “Beauty and the Beast.”
Today, five years later, our fifteen-show repertoire has cycled back around, and I felt very emotional as the curtain again opened for “Beauty and the Beast.” I never dreamed when I thought, “Sure, I’ll call that phone number on a flyer,” that it would lead to five years of sweat, strings, and soreness.
I have pulled muscles in my back and neck more times than I can remember. I have frequently injured my wrists and ankles. I have broken a finger and been forced to perform two months wearing a cast.
But I’m still here. Because I love what I do. I love knowing that I’ll never be perfect, that there is always a way to improve, to do a better show than my last one, no matter how good it was. I love that after five years I am still learning what I can do with the puppets, that there is no stopping point. I love that challenge.
I also love knowing that in many cases, our shows are a child’s first introduction to theater. Long before I became an actor, the first live show I ever saw was in kindergarten…and it was a marionette show. I have never forgotten that performance, and everyday I hope my performance touches a child’s heart and memory the same way.
I may be overheated and underpaid, but there are few things I’d rather be doing than operating these puppets. So, if I may toast myself, here’s to my fifth anniversary as a marionette puppeteer! …the longest I’ve ever held a job! 🙂
What do you love (or hate) about your job? Is there something you’d rather be doing? Tell us below.