“We Have Poipus!” is an entertaining puppet show for children having to do with drug and violence prevention and having purpose in life. It was written for the Youngstown, Ohio City Schools and for public use. The entire script, sound track, original music and scores for the original music can be downloaded from this site for anyone to use at no charge. It is a project worthy of being duplicated and has been placed on the Internet for this purpose.The We Have Poipus! script is copyrighted and must be used in its entirety without alteration (© 1998).
What was originally conceived as a larger-than-life production to be presented to children by adults has evolved to encompass a variety of ideas with different levels of complexity and with children presenting the show. While any size, or kind of puppet, can be used with this script, please note that the design concepts and the framework ideas used for the puppets shown and described on this site are also copyrighted (© 1999). Permission to use these design concepts and framework ideas is reserved solely for use with the We Have Poipus! script. The originality of these uniquely designed puppets contributes greatly to what makes this production special.
The puppets we use are a variety of bright colors such as red, yellow, blue, green, violet and orange and are giant in size. They wear real clothing purchased from thrift stores. The puppets are colorful to make the show more entertaining and also because the problem of drugs affects people of all colors. It is asked that anyone using this script also make their puppets different bright colors so that no particular puppet could be construed as meant to represent any particular race. Because our puppets are so large and colorful it is not a distraction to have the children seen in full view operating the puppets.
The copyrighted design includes papier-mached heads made from 2-gallon utility buckets turned upside down, the handle being used for the mouth. Grocery bags rather than newspapers were used for the papier-mache, which makes them have extreme durability. We discovered that several layers of papier-mached grocery bags results in a toughness comparable to wood. They are painted with acrylic paint and are easily touched-up. Likewise, the unique framework, which disassembles for easy transportation, is virtually indestructible. Heads are mounted on a PVC framework and can turn separately from the body because there is a separate pipe in the framework just for the head. The puppets are mounted on weighted roller seats. A student who sits on the roller seat operates the mouth by pulling a fishing line that is funneled through the PVC pipes. This student can also make the head turn and make the puppet walk by moving the roller seat about. A second student stands behind the puppet to operate the hands.
Several of the puppets have special construction such as Mousetrap, the drug dealer, whose remotely controlled eyes shift back and forth. Fireball, a puppet with a short fuse, has hair that pops off his head and the Decision-Maker has eyes that light up. The Decision-Maker is a combination of all colors and has extra hands. This idea was generated by a student who said he needs extra hands “because he has a lot to do!”
We Have Poipus! has been an ongoing project since 1998 when the script was written with much input from Youngstown students. The sound track was professionally recorded using elementary students from Youngstown Schools in 2000 by RIXMIX Sound Ideas, Youngstown, Ohio. Youngstown students have taken part in every stage of the development of this program including puppet construction, creating puppet choreography for the music, and public performances for the Butler Museum of Art, Canfield Fair, First Night Youngstown and the YSU Summer Festival of the Arts. Students also performed for a teacher workshop.
This has been an extremely popular program with the students! They love to practice the songs and teach the songs to their younger brothers and sisters. One student who otherwise would have dropped out of our gifted program, which is housed in our building, stayed rather than going back to her home school because of the puppets! Another student who has been a part of the program for six years talked her parents into staying in the Youngstown City Schools because of the puppets! Still another said she memorized the entire play! Some students who have gone on to higher grades have come back to continue to take part in the program. They report that students from their school still sing the songs. Students initiated the idea for a We Have Poipus! Club and one year got together to write a Poipus Weekly. For the Poipus Weekly students wrote stories about the puppets and reported such things as when the puppets got new hairdos. These were copied and placed in the school library for other students to read. The We Have Poipus! Puppet Show has also received tremendous parental and community support. Many people both inside and outside the Youngstown School System have given generously of their time and talent to bring this together.
The first complete large-scale production of this play did not take place until June 2006 for a Youngstown School student body. It involved all 19 larger-than-life puppets. There are actually 21 characters but we use the same puppets for both the older and younger versions of Marbles and Ellie. For the older versions both are given jackets. Marbles also gets a necktie and different hair is velcroed on his head. Ellie’s hair is tied back and she is given glasses.
Each puppet requires two students to operate, except for Marbles’s chauffeur, his son and Saturina. Marbles has a General Motors car (one of our sponsors) driven by his chauffeur. The chauffeur (who does not speak or move) and son are attached to the car, which is held by a cord attached to Marble’s shoulder. Two students are used for the car scene. Both students operate the car, which is cut from wood and also operate a puppet. One of the students works the puppet for Marbles, who is being driven by his chauffeur, and the second works the puppet for Marble’s son. (It’s one line). Saturina, a disabled child whose mother, Venus, took drugs is attached by means of PVC to the older version of Prudence. The student operating Prudence also operates Saturina.
The show was entirely presented by students with a student acting as Mistress of Ceremonies. The sound track from this website was used. Voices for the Narrators were handled by having two students act as marionettes with another student operating them. A student director, who stood at audience level, pointed to each puppet when it was that puppet’s turn to speak. This was simplified by the fact that the puppets are all different colors. The director used a color-coded script, which is coordinated with the different parts for each puppet with a matching color. Following pictographs, the director also made choreography motions for the five puppets that perform the songs. Large scenery sets were changed quickly behind closed curtains while students provided intermission entertainment. The entire show including intermissions took 43 minutes.
A DVD of the June 2006 performance was made for grant writing purposes and all the students taking part received copies of the DVD. An alternative way to use this script and sound track would be just to make the DVD. The DVD could at some point focus on each student taking part and list the students’ names in the credits at the end. It could be used to show to the school’s student body on a large screen. Many students would be eager to participate and it would be entirely possible to use a lot of different students.
With currently available PC video editing software this could conceivably be done quite simply and inexpensively. The problem of performing in front of scenery can be eliminated. Puppets would perform with a fabric background that is a solid color different from any of the other colors to be seen. The software program would eliminate the color of the fabric and later add the scenery background. With this method, coupled with not having to use all the puppets at once and through the use of a wide-angle lens, almost any space could be used. To further simplify things the scenery could actually be small yet appear large on the DVD. Since there is a maximum of seven puppets seen at any time in any scene, it would only be necessary to have seven roller seats, which could be used for all the puppets in the show. All materials and tools needed are either readily available or can be ordered from the Internet.
Click the links to read, listen to and download the script and songs and sing along with the score sung by Youngstown students. Read more about the We Have Poipus! Puppet Show Project in Contemporary Issues in Art Education by Yvonne Gaudelius and Peg Speirs, a chapter book published in 2002 being used in colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.