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Click on the link below to see the full article fromThe Bay Area CitizenNov 3, 2010

Puppets with a mind of their own

By MARY ANN HELLINGHAUSEN

Updated: 11.03.10

text from the article above:

 

Give Nitsana Lazerus a wooden spoon and a marker, or even just a pair of plastic eyeballs, and she can bring them to life.

That’s how she calmed children and clinic patients while hiding in a shelter during a barrage of rocket fire while visiting her sister in Israel.

“We were stuck in a shelter for several hours,’’ she said. “I had two little (plastic) eyes and a finger puppet. I told the children stories as we heard the Katyusha rockets falling around us. It reassured them.’’

It’s a talent Lazerus has had since she was a child, when she told stories to her stuffed animals. “I could bring to life a fork, a knife and a plate,” she said.

Puppet menagerie

Today, she has a menagerie of puppets which she uses to entertain and educate at libraries, schools, parties, nursing homes, workshops and hospitals.

At a recent performance at Helen Hall Library in League City, Lazerus mesmerized children with puppets Blue, Bird, Mr. Fish and Kitty Cat.

Each puppet has his or her own message, voice and personality. Mr. Fish, for example, helps her count in different languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.

Bird likes to talk about diversity and how it’s important to “see the other person’s side.’’

Kitty Cat, who pops out of a peanut can, has to learn that she can’t have that cookie right away; that sometimes “we can’t get everything right away.”

Bullying story

Lazerus writes her own stories and can create a story around a specific topic.

“I use puppets to teach about nutrition, health, tolerance, art,’’ she said. “I have a show about bullying, about how a tiny little fairy can talk a big, bad wolf that intimidates all the animals into making an apology and becoming friends with the ones he intimated.’’

Sometimes she doesn’t even know what her puppets are going to say. “They have a mind of their own,’’ she said.

And kids often agree. At a recent hospital show, a child going through chemotherapy kept calling out “monkey! monkey!’’ as Lazerus performed with a monkey puppet.

When Lazerus finally turned to the child and asked, “what?’’, he replied, “I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the monkey!’’

Biggest dilemma

Lazerus, an Israeli native who has lived in Clear Lake the past 22 years, hopes to someday reach a wider audience. She has approached PBS about doing a show, but was told she would have to find sponsors.

Her biggest dilemma before a show? Deciding which puppets to use out of her inventory of more than 300.

“My one vice is carrying too many puppets around,’’ she said as she packed up her League City show to head to another out in Katy.