Puppet Stage

The youth of my church attend a regional competition each year where they are tested on a variety of areas, to include Bible knowledge, website design, singing/song leading, and puppet performances.  For those of you that follow my other site, the kids have been doing puppet performances for a few years now.  I’ve made the puppets over  the years, allowing the students to decorate  them so they can perform their plays.  This year, however, there was a new requirement – the puppet stage.

In the past, there was a puppet stage available for the kids to use.  However, this year there is a requirement for the churches to bring their own.  We received the following diagram and text telling us how the puppet stage should be created:

All measurements are from the top railing.
Puppet stage parts list:
12 pieces of 10ft. 1.5 PVC
18 of 1.5 T-Joints
8 of 1.5 90-degree elbows
6 of 1.5 x 1.5 adapter couplings
6 of 1.5 x 3 adapter couplings
1 box of 0.25 phillips head screws.  Drill a hole at each connection and put in a screw to make connection secure.  Do not glue or tape together.  This will make storage easier.
Heavy poly cotton black fabric (black only) – velcro

That is all I received.  So, putting my engineering and math background to use, I had to calculate the actual lengths of the pipe sections in order to achieve the desired dimensions.  This was easy to achieve once I made some preliminary measurements of the exterior and interior of the various fittings.  It took approximately one week to do the math and make the cuts (working about an hour or two each night after work).  The frame went together as seen below:

Then came the hard part – the fabric walls.  I have to admit, I can channel my inner Betsy Ross when needed, but I am far from proficient when it comes to measuring and cutting fabric (especially when it is constantly shifting).  After a lot of fitting, pinning, and refitting, I was able to get a sense of the size and shape of the pieces of fabric necessary in order to cover the frame.  With one piece being 18-feet wide by 5-feet tall, the measuring and pinning took a long while to complete, and that was before I had to trim, hem, and attach the velcro.  In all, the fabric took about one to two weeks to complete.

Lastly, I had to take the whole project apart and bring it to the church building for the kids to assemble on their own.  One of the requirements is that the group assembles, performs, and disassembles the stage in only 12 minutes.  While I have an issue with that requirement, I came up with a way that can be done.  By having the stage partially assembled (in three sections) off to the side, the can walk in and simply attach four poles to complete the assembly.  That shouldn’t take any more than 2 minutes, especially since the coordinator has decided to use the stage without the one-foot extensions at the base of the poles (lowering it to 6.5 feet tall).

Since the fabric around the front and side of the front-half of the stage is a single piece, the first section would already be draped in fabric and simply need the side arms raised into position to connect to the vertical middle section (the second section).  Lastly, the horizontal pieces that connect the middle to the rear of the stage (the third section) would already have the fabric attached, so all that is needed is a tall person to connect the poles together and the stage is completed.  (We will have to practice this some to coordinate the assembly.)

With the stage completed, it’s time to turn the attention towards the puppets themselves.  More on that to come later.


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