Small groups, parents with children, a grandmother with her grandson, a father with sons, all seated at a distance. No excited children crowded together on benches, proud to sit alone in the front row without mum or dad.
A very different, much quieter atmosphere, but still puppet theatre. The lights go out and for a moment you forget the distance and are completely caught up in the events of the story.
Then comes the lockdown and there are no stories from the puppet theatre for us and for you this Christmas season. No “John Happy-Go-Lucky” for the New Year.
John Happy-Go-Lucky by puppen etc Berlin
For the first time in many years, I have time to take a stroll on Christmas eve. There is no performance to oversee. I meet a family who used to come regularly to our performances. We greet each other and I marvel at how big the daughters have become over the past year – 2020. For us adults it is difficult to do without art and culture, however what does a year like the past one mean for a child?
To overcome this hopefully temporary void in our lives a wide range of digital, cultural offerings for children as well as adults have been developed. But does that replace a theatre experience? When my little grand-nephew came with his grandmother and grandfather to see “Pirate Eberhard on a privateer’s voyage”, he quickly hid under the chair when the sea serpent appeared on stage, but afterwards his mother put together a dress-up box for him with pirate clothes, eye patch, cardboard sword and a hook for a hand, because this performance was so riveting, lively, colourful and impressive for him that he still plays “Pirate Eberhard” a year later.
Pirate Elena and Pirate Eberhard from KOBALT Puppet Theatre, Lübeck
How does one plan for 2021 in a time in which plans are so susceptible to the whims of a virus?
We hope for a window of opportunity in the spring, perhaps though not until the summer; in which we can play as we used to. For children, for adults for all people, because, as the family I met on Christmas Day assured me, you need us. And we need you.