Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Call Me "Mister" Noel

I am writing my last post from Nigeria. It's almost 11:00PM. In the comfort of my hotel room (the very posh and elegant Protea Hotel Ikeja), it's the last twenty-four hours here; this time tomorrow night, I should be on a plane heading back to the U. S. of A. after eleven days with the new production team for Sesame Square.


This has been a truly amazing trip. The vibrancy of Lagos and its people. The food (and let me tell you they do NOT skimp on portions here; these folks know how to eat); the culture and the pride wrapped around it. The music, the languages, the styles of clothes and fashion that completely run the gamet. All unforgetable.

But it's those brand new "dollie-wrigglers" I've trained that I will remember and be grateful to. It's all due to these four puppeteers I chose to perform these twocharacters that helped me enjoy being so far from home and hearth. Trust me, it would have been a lot harder if they weren't getting it, or not trying, or just complaining. (And dear God, there is nothing worse then a whiney puppeteer.) But they are the opposite. These four individuals who, just six days ago had never even met, let alone held up a puppet, have developed a true chemistry with each other and are collaborating to enhance scenes given them, all on their own. When I came in this morning they had gone ahead and not only started work on the scene I assigned them, but made it better! All on their own! Aside from focus, lip-sync,keeping the puppet straight,performing lines, handling props, and doing it all on little rollies (those round slightly cushioned seats with wheels to slide along the floor on).

And they've picked up on all this in just SIX DAYS.

"You're leaving tomorrow?" one asks.
And he retorts, "Why?"
"Because," I say with a smile, "I have a life."

They don't want me to leave. Very flattering. The puppeteer who asked the question calls me "Mister" Noel. I found out that this is a form of respect for someone who is ...um.... well.... ...... older. Fine. I've reached that. But it is nice that they want me to stay and to learn more from me. The photo of me holding Kami is when I was checking something on the monitor for her. These are both beautifully made puppets by the Henson Workshop NY. But they do belong to Tekalani Sesame, the South African version. And these are the actual puppets from that production; it was thought they would translate well for this version. However, THIS Sesame deserves it own characters and I've already given them an idea for one for next season that is completely Nigerian when they see it; We'll see (money pending). But it is time for me and them to move on.

What I regret about leaving is not being able to see them in studio. It got pushed a week to let them all get up to speed. And that was a very wise decision on the producers part. But they are going to be so good. And each day they will just get better. And take care of each other. And bust each others' chops. And give the children of Nigeria such happy memories to look back on.

"Oh I remember that show from when I was little. I loved that show," someone will say years from now (after watching YouTube cause that sure as heck is not going away).And what a great responsibility to have; creating memories.

Odabo. (Good-bye)

OK.......... We got time for three quick Nigerian jokes before I go. And having survived Lagos traffic, I get these more than ever.

Q: What is the most important part of any moving vehicle in Lagos?

A: The horn

Q: What is another name for a pedestrian?

A: Risk taker

.... and finally.....

Q: What is another name for a traffic light?

A: Wishful Thinking

(Trust me NY; if you can make it HERE you can make it anywhere!
See you soon my little family!)

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