Characters That Connect

In preparation for our Seeds Conference last month, I did a lot of writing for one of my workshops: Puppets and Characters. When it comes to characters and story, I’m a huge Jim Henson fan. The Muppets (including Sesame Street) are in a league of their own. Probably one of the most emotionally touching scenes I’ve ever seen was Big Bird singing at Jim’s memorial (watch here).

Michael Davis talks about the purpose of Big Bird in his book Street Gang. The character’s whole objection is to respond to situations as a 6-year old would. This causes a connection between young kids and Big Bird which allows them to learn from Sesame Street. This shows me something: if our characters can connect with our kids, they can teach our kids.

Our series in KOTM have one overall theme; each week we look at that theme in a different way with The Big Answer. We support The Big Answer with an illustration, Bible story, music, and a story line. It’s in the story line, or sketch, that we use our characters to communicate The Big Answer.

A great example of this can be found in Kids on the Move Live! Our Big Answer for the service was FEAR IS NOT THE BOSS OF ME. During the service we met Majunga, who was dealing with the fear of something he saw on television. Over the course of the service he expounded on the depths of his fear, after which, we taught him The Big Answer and ultimately stood with him as he overcame the obstacle. The principle behind why Majunga works so well is the same principle behind Big Bird’s success. Majunga is our 6-year old. He deals with the same temptations that our kids deal with. Granted, his voice and mannerisms are hilarious, but our win with him is his connection with the kids.

The way we use our characters range from puppets, to host and antagonist personalities, to simply reading stories on stage. We just use the tools we have available to create the best possible characters that connect.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg. As soon as we get through Easter I’ll write a little more on how we write scripts in KOTM. We’d also love to hear about characters you are using at home. Comment below and let’s get the conversation going!

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