Our city has its own professional children's puppet theatre. It's got puppet masters who have trained as such in the Soviet era, its own building in the centre of town, and a very active programme with a number of new shows every season. It's always seemed super cool and super unusual to me that children's puppet theatre is taken so seriously here, that "professional puppet master" can actually be a real job description, and that many families opt to take their kids to see the puppets instead of go to the movies.
Well a couple of months ago I got a call from one of the said puppet masters, asking me to translate one of their plays that they had been invited to play at a festival in the US (as a freelance team). I accepted immediately, excitedly, and was a little taken aback when she told me that they had no money to pay me for the job... but they could offer a barter. A play, put on at the date and time of my choosing - or a wonderful Father Christmas, or an enchanting Easter Bunny... Long story short, I agreed, and tonight we held a puppet party at our place, as a Christmas gift for our godchildren and their families. It was great fun. The play itself was hilarious, with the mirth heightened by the fact that the performance happened at such close quarters in our lounge room. We all laughed and laughed - adults and children alike -at classic fairytale forest animals were infused with naivity, slyness, fun and comedy.
So good, that I'm hoping I get another barter deal from them again, so we can have another Christmas play next year!