Scenario #2
Working with stories 2: Punch or Political puppet theatre

Aims / objectives

The aim is to show in the playful way of puppet theatre, suitable for children, how manipulation and seductiveness work and how to counteract them.

Description of the method

One of the characters taking part in the performance is overdrawn as a populist who tries to become president through lies and deceit. At the same time, the main character of the play, Punch, and his friends see through these lies and try to stand up against the populist. Punch, in full Punchinello, Italian Pulcinella, is a hook-nosed, humpbacked character – the most popular of marionettes and glove puppets. He is known in many countries and cultures under different names like Guignol in French or Kasperl in German.

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Concrete story: Punch appears and asks the children in his usual manner, “Have you heard of the Populistifax? He would like to become president. He lies like a trooper and would like to decide everything all by himself. He wants to throw all those who contradict him out of the country. Whoever does not follow him, he wants to disappear. Oh, wait, kids. Here he comes.”

Populistifax: “Hello children! I'm Populistifax. I’m so beautiful and smart. I have a good, good heart. Everyone can see that easily. A real superman, that’s me. I only like people who clap for me. Those who don’t clap, they get a slap. Whoever criticises me gets squashed like a bumblebee. But hush, be quiet. First the people have to elect me. Afterwards, they need to respect me – as their president for all time. That’s a nice rhyme.”

Afterwards, the Populistifax tries to hand out sweets to get votes. He lies about Punch and others and tells evil stories. The scenes can be played as videos or played directly. The children are then asked what they think about the Populistifax. Questions:

  • What does Populistifax want to achieve?
  • Is it fair if only one person decides and the others always have to do what he/she wants?
  • What would you say to someone like Populistifax?
  • How could we help Punch?
  • What would be courageous?

In a variation, other stories can be told or shown with puppets, Punch and his friends. Children can find certain qualities. Who acts bravely or courageously and why? Who acts unjustly?

Usability in social work

As this method is intended for smaller children, it would be well applicable in the context of school social work in primary schools or kindergartens.


Name of the method

Punch or Political Puppet Theatre

Target group

Children from 4 to 10


30 minutes

Spatial requirements

Room, puppets and a puppet stage (or video)


Justice, critical thinking, tolerance, values


Raising childrens’ awareness about lies and their consequences; strengthening reflection on justice, solidarity, fairness and power relations in a suitable way (without using these terms)

Method description

Facilitator plays with the puppets and tells the story of the populist and Punch. Children are asked several questions about justice, fairness, social interaction, etc.

Social work context

Suitable for social work in school and kindergarten


Puppets, storyboard, puppets play or video (see German example:; preparation of questions; eventually, further material


In children's plays, the characters are often very one-dimensional. Good and evil are usually easy to distinguish. When choosing characters / puppets, great care must be taken not to serve stereotypes and promote prejudices.

concept / application

Markus Pausch; presented in adult education for teachers and social workers



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