Due to traveling and other issues I haven't been able to help out as much as I'd like. However, our Music Minister Brother Mike approached me about doing the opening drama with him. "You can be a puppet!" He said.
I loved theater from stagecraft to backstage work. I've even directed a few high school plays. I never, however thought I was talented as an actress. I never could get over... me. Unlike other people who act- they BECOME their character- I've always just felt like me. Leslie Crane. Pretending she's someone else. If I ever had to act I would become so self conscious I could barely stand it; but then, many years ago someone put a puppet in my hands and I was never the same after that. The simple fact of a puppet is that I am hidden... and nobody sees me... and therefore... I could become that character! Puppetry is SOOO much fun and EVERYBODY LOVES PUPPETS RIGHT?
We decided on an orangutan which I stitched some glasses on. I had to decide on a voice and an accent and a personality for this guy, so I went home and went to work. He looks pretty goofy so I thought about a stereotypical "country" accent (Hay y'all, how y'ouns a doin?) but I figured a country accent in South Georgia wouldn't be much of a leap. Then I tried the sort of mild mannered English gentleman (Oh, my! How dreadful. How about a spot o' tea?) but didn't think that suited him either.
Finally I decided to look to Rocky and Bullwinkle for inspiration. I seembed to remember a character on there that had been everywhere and done everything, sort of the same thing I wanted with this puppet. So I went online and found him: Commander McBragg.
Growing up in the three channels days I would often get up before the television station started broadcasting so I could get a leg up on my Saturday morning cartoons. The first cartoon that came on was the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. I always considered this show to be the cartoon equivalent of that Halloween candy that nobody eats. However I did like Mr. Peabody and Commander McBragg. So I went online and watched about every episode of Commander McBragg until I could mimic the personality- not completely the accent. I wrote three "Brags" and the rest has been random stuff we made up.
The children of our church went CRAZY when he came on stage for the first time. You don't often see a talking ape in a Baptist Church. I guess at first the identity of the puppeteer was a mystery but after two days the kids figured it out.
"I know who you are. You're the monkey."
"Ape darling. Monkeys have tails."
"You're Commander McBragg. I know you're not real. Why you want to be a puppet?"
"Well it wouldn't be nearly as funny if it was just me hanging out of that treehouse, now would it?"
Smug look and turned around in her seat. Third Graders. They think they know everything.
Why do I want to play a puppet? This is why...
You see, without me, that thing is just a bunch of cloth, fake fur, some little bits of plastic. Nothing special. Without me... it would sit there like a lump and do nothing.
But you see, I picked it up and I put a part of myself into it. I gave it a voice and a personality and a backstory. I gave it my mind and my sense of humor. While we are on stage, at least, its an extension of me and I've created something that is good and fun that makes people happy and maybe I'll say or do something that will make a difference in some small way.
I think God does the same thing.
Without Him, I'm just meat and skin and bits of bone. I'll go about my own way doing my own thing but for the most part- I'd just sit here like a lump and do nothing much of importance.
But then one day He picked me up, and he brushed me off and he put a part of Him into me. He gave me a voice, and a personality and He became a part of not just my backstory- He became part of my ongoing story. He gave me His spirit, His mind, His sense of humor. While I am on the stage of this life- I am a extension of Him and hopefully, if I allow Him, He's created something good and fun that makes people happy and maybe He will allow me to say or do something that makes a difference in some small way.