I scrounged the last parking spot at The Windows, one of our more popular neighborhoods in the park — my assigned location to deliver my “Pocket Program” (5-10 min) about ravens. Scouting out the site, I delighted to see three families with youngish children milling about, gathering themselves for the assault on the formations 1/4 mile away.
There is something about an official-looking person in a uniform. It doesn’t matter if your hat says VOLUNTEER or RANGER; folks smile and know that you have something to offer. If there happens to be a raven puppet on your hand, well, the Pied Piper effect quadruples.
“CRO-O-A-K!” I got their attention with my sorry mimicry of raven voice. The puppet came to life and the kids’ eyes brightened and twinkled. Normal barriers fell away; non-English-speakers stepped right up, and fear of a stranger dissipated instantly. I’m telling you, puppetry is magical. It holds the key that unlocks many, many opportunities. And it always draws a crowd. Within a few minutes there were twenty people in a circle around the raven puppet, wanting to put it on.
Role-playing different intra-species communications of a raven group, their untapped theater skills blossomed. “Let’s play” and “I want my mommy” and “Danger!” were acted out by youngsters. It is food for my soul to see the delight in their eyes; I adore these eager learners, and can’t get enough of their enthusiasm.
“Some singers want the audience to love them. I love the audience.” (Luciano Pavarotti)