Darrel the Barrel
That's right, I once spent a week one summer as a construction worker, however, I wasn't putting up some kind of downtown highrise for a big real-estate conglomorate; I was being a construction barrel for a higher power.
When I was a little kid, I always looked forward to Vacation Bible School at church, however, as I got older, I couldn't participate so much anymore in the events, and I ended up having to help run booths, or make sure each group of kids were at the right location they should be, etc. Then there was one summer where I got a chance to make myself a little more useful at helping put together VBS: one of my lesser known puppeteering roles.
The summer of 2005, our church's VBS theme was God's Construction Zone, and the theme's curriculum included a central character, who was a talking (and somewhat wisecracking) construction barrel named Darrel the Barrel; the curriculum had options for a costume character, a hand puppet, or a bunch of little finger puppets to give to the kids. Knowing that I'm a puppeteer, our youth directors decided they wanted to use the puppet for VBS, so this gave me a chance to do something puppetry related outside of my own work, and needless to say, this was going to be a very interesting, and ultimately rewarding week for myself as a puppeteer.
The routine was that at the end of the day, all of the children attending would gather into a room in our recreation center, to see a skit with Kelly Fly (one of our youth directors), and the aforementioned construction barrel, Darrel, and each night, they would discuss, or tackle a different subject pertaining to that day's message (such as disobedience, forgiveness, etc). That's the way it went for the first two nights, the next two nights, I went solo before the kids, then on the final night, we both said goodbye to the kids after they watched a slideshow retrospective of their week of VBS. It was amazing how much those little kids absolutely loved Darrel... as a matter of fact, one night, a small group of rugrats tore down our puppet set wanting to see him again: our puppet set was a very simple set up of PVC pipe covered in thin black fabric to hide myself (and a large paper construction zone sign on the front to hide my silohuette through the fabic), so the kids managed to tear it down pretty easily, but were in for a surprise to find, instead of Darrel the Barrel, a round, hairy man sitting in a metal folding chair. That didn't stop impressing the kids, however, as they all started praising me for my performance, and telling me how much they loved Darrel, the voice I used for him, and how good I was at playing him; as a puppeteer, there's nothing more rewarding than kids really enjoy what you're doing, and connect with the characters as if they're real (for me personally, it was even more rewarding when I once had a grown man interact with Steve, as if I was invisible and Steve was real, lol).
Getting back the slideshow, althought I couldn't see too well, I could see through the projection screen a little bit from where I was sitting (the screen was placed in front of the puppet set, since the kids would already be facing that direction), at one point, I was getting the puppet ready, and all of the sudden, the kids started squealing and cheering, and when I looked up, there was home video footage of Darrel on the screen, and the kids were cheering at seeing him again.
It certainly turned out to be a week to remember, and I'm certainly glad that the kids were able to get the lessons they were being taught from a lovable little puppet. Here are the scripts I was given to go through with the kids each night (except for Friday, which Kelly and I pretty much just did a runthrough for before we performed before the kids).
Monday Night's Skit Script