Tiffin City Schools Office of Gifted Education offered an academy recently for students identified as gifted in visual arts in Tiffin Middle School.
Sixth- and seventh-grade students made marionettes. The students met for a two-
period block of intense art instruction over 11 weeks with art teacher Cindy Hillier.
Photo by Mike Masella
From back to front, Taylor Losey, Caden Blust, Savannah Hagen, Rachel Repp, Tyler Ward and Jessica Damm work their marionettes behind the scene.
First, the students explored the history and modern application of puppet theater through a distance learning class provided by The Center for Puppetry Arts in Georgia. Then, the students chose several puppet plays to portray with their own original 12-inch marionette designs.
The whole project took about three months to complete. The students had to create their own puppets and practice and rehearse. The puppets were made out of stuffed cloth, model magic clay, sculpting clay, yarn and other materials.
The students learned how to manipulate their puppet and work as a team to stage a puppet theater production, Hillier said.
The students are to perform three puppet plays: "Equal Frights," "Wizard of Oz," and "Shrek." Performances are at Noble Elementary at 1 p.m. Tuesday. The elementary academy students who made the scenery will get VIP seating during this special production. The plays also are to be presented at Tiffin Middle School during the school day afternoon and again at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 20.
The idea to create puppet play came from Hillier. Hillier has a collection of about 20 marionettes and puppets are a passion of hers.
"Puppets are fun to create and manipulate," Hillier said.
Putting on a puppet theater brings all aspects of creativity, Hillier said. "It is the ability to tell stories."
The students involved in the production of the puppet plays are: sixth-graders Caden Blust, Sessile Burks, Jessica Damm, Savannah Hagen, Taylor Losey, Rachel Repp and Tyler Ward; and seventh-graders Niki Cole, Morgan Cranmore, Abby Fox, Natalie Gase, Campbell Holben, Zachary Hoy, Mykah Johnson, Logan O'Donnell, Noah Rees, Marci Stevens and Calista Wilson.
O'Donnell is playing the Cowardly Lion in the "Wizard of Oz." "I feel a connection with the lion because I am shy to certain people."
"It has been fun to create the face," Johnson said.
Johnson is playing the Wicked Witch of the West.
"Making the face is the most important part," she said.
"Everything about this is fun. It gets my mind going," Cole said.
Cole is playing the main role as Dorothy and is having fun working as a team and interacting with others.
In conjunction with marionettes, Noble Elementary art students identified as having a propensity for art participated in the Puppet Show Stage Sets academy for four afternoons over four weeks with Hillier.
These students designed and painted puppet stages, props and scenery for the middle school academy puppet shows: fourth-graders Katelynn Bauman, Jack Burkholder, Madison Grabert, Calista Morrison, Rylie Roggow, Carson Silardi, and Nora Zirm; and fifth-graders Dylan Alford, Avery Durham, Ethan Feasel, Chloe Mack, Nina Navarette, Anthony Thallman and Jade Worden.
"This is something that the kids are never going to forget," Hillier said. "I, along with the kids, use art as a form of visual communications. I enjoy using art to make people smile and laugh and just enjoy their life."
"I think puppets have been used around the world in most cultures to convey the traditions and life skills of that culture. Our art academy students learned about this first hand through the long distance learning class from the Center for Puppetry Arts they had the first art academy session in September," Hillier said. "The three plays our students are presenting all have a life application character skills as the focal point."
For more information, contact Paula Zirm at (419) 447-2515.