David and I at the Jane Henson Workshop.

I’m pretty sure this was the puppetry convention in Talequah,Oklahoma, and although we no longer had Jim Henson with us, his wife Jane seemed keen on keeping the tradition alive and teaching a workshop there.

Of course, this was about sixteen years ago and my memory is fuzzy, but with the help of David Andora, a friend I met in the workshop that day, I’m able to share the experience as best I can:

The thing I remember most is that I had done my “Who’s on First” routine the night before, and Jane apparently remembered me from that. I was running late for the workshop, and when I finally got there, I had to rap on the door to get in. Jane came to the door, and plain as day, said, “Oh, hi–you’re Elizabeth, aren’t you? Come on in!”

After all the little fresh-faced kids like me got settled, Jane put on a puppet and began her demonstration.

I took this photo. I have no idea who the monster puppet is–I can’t find it on Muppet Wiki anywhere.Jane showed us how to duck our heads out of view of the camera, how to watch the monitor, and how not to crash into your fellow puppeteers.

David Andora was one of the other youngsters in the class, and here is what he had to say:

“I wish I could remember more about the Jane Henson workshop. All I remember is how kind and generous both she and her assistant Richard were. I remember how incredibly excited I was to get to work with actual Muppets and to play around on a camera/monitor set-up. I don’t know if we just did impromptu play or lip synched to music or what. I don’t think we spent too very long on camera. I recall having some difficulty with the backwards image problem that occurs when looking at the monitor facing you. Later in life I got pretty good at working at a monitor.”

Here’s David’s photos.

Okay, so here we are, practicing as a group in front of the camera. I think I remember us doing impromptu play, because another friend and I had our puppets looking for the bathroom(it was a troubling issue in the dorm where we stayed).She had a red, fuzzy dragon and we were almost falling over laughing with our lines,combined with the constant stepping on each other.
That’s David with the dark hair,and he got to use the Muppet that Jane had!
You can probably see a bird foot sticking out from behind David.

That bird foot belongs to none other than Chuck Rooster.I’m cut out of the photo, but I’m glad Chuck made it in. He’s a really beautiful puppet and I can remember Jane coming over to stroke his face and compliment him.

It was an amazing time. There we were, in front of one of the masters, using the real equipment.

David contacted me the other day,having found me in his web searchings. Apparently, he is on the same puppet journey as I, having been away from it for years.

Here is the very talented David’s website today: davidandora.com

Met up with Jane again at the Center for Puppetry Arts years later. She didn’t remember me, but that was a long time ago. Oh well.

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