SEYMOUR, IN—Despite loud and repeated audience warnings, an area puppet was attacked by a dragon during a performance of The Silver Bananas in the children's section of the Seymour Public Library Sunday.
The puppet, Prince Bumbo The Monkey, is in serious but stable condition with extensive cloth injuries.
According to police, audience members warned Prince Bumbo "at least a half dozen times" that Brimstone, a Seymour-area dragon whose magic silver bananas Bumbo had just stolen, was behind him. Each time, however, Bumbo refused to heed the warnings, boasting that Brimstone would never dare to attack him.
As Brimstone neared Prince Bumbo, the monkey stopped in mid-sentence and looked around as though he heard something, but quickly returned to boasting about the banana theft, which only agitated the audience further.
As the dragon opened his jaws, Prince Bumbo finally appeared to hear the warnings. "What? You say there's a big mean dragon behind me? Oh, come on, I don't believe you," he said.
"We insisted it was true," said audience member and mother of three Sherri Pryce, "so Prince Bumbo finally turned around to look, but Brimstone then shifted to the other side so that the puppet could not see him. We then told Prince Bumbo to look in the other direction, but when he did Brimstone only returned to his original position behind Prince Bumbo."
The monkey then accused the audience of "just being jealous," and returned to inspecting his stolen silver bananas. It was then that the dragon struck, severely shaking Prince Bumbo in his felt-lined jaws and forcing the monkey to return the treasure.
Seymour police chief Ron Byrne said the attack could easily have been avoided. "When I come to schools to talk to kids about the importance of dragon safety, one of the first things I tell them is, always be sure to turn around completely if you think a dragon is stalking you," said Byrne, who happened to attend Sunday's show with his three-year-old son. "This monkey did not do so, and now he's paying for it."
According to leading puppet psychologist Dr. Gary Wisniewski, violence has grown increasingly common in the puppet world. "Puppets have very limited free will," said Wisniewski, whose clients include such celebrity puppets as Howdy Doody and X the Owl. "They are controlled by strings or by a human hand, and are continually forced to mouth the words of others. In addition, their environment is limited to the small, cramped puppet-theater stage. As a result, many puppets develop deep feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration, feelings that can very easily lead to violence."
Seymour Public Library officials offer a more direct explanation for the latest case of puppet-on-puppet violence.
"It's unfortunate that Prince Bumbo didn't pay attention to the audience and was attacked by the dragon," assistant library director Patti Colby said. "But if he hadn't been such a greedy, stubborn little monkey who didn't want to share, it would never have happened."
Nevertheless, library officials have ordered beefed-up security for next week's performance of Mr. Bear, Queen Bee And The Stolen Honey.
"That show could be serious trouble," said John Reinholt, head of security for the library. "A lot of the puppets want to get their hands on that honey."
Reinholt said the library is still investigating a June 25 stick-beating incident involving local puppets Punch and Judy, and no arrests have been made in connection with the gruesome boiling of a wolf last May.