Crusader Puppeteer Finds Direction in Performing

Though she seems shy in front of people, sophomore education major Alana Filban comes alive in the spotlight. Well, her hands do, as they move effortlessly inside the cloth and stitching of homemade puppets.
Filban attended a church in her hometown of Magnolia, Texas. There, she discovered her knack for unconventional storytelling.
She said, “I had a children’s pastor that became a father figure to me, and I really looked up to him. There was a nationwide group he was involved in that used puppets to tell stories. He got me involved, and we traveled with other Assemblies of God churches.”
The team competed all over the country, narrating their own plotlines and individual characters.
“We got to go to Orlando when we made it through district. That was so much fun,” she said. “I know puppets sound silly, but it really connected to children.”
Not only did the unique activity provide friendships and memories, but Filban discovered her love for kids during her time with the dramatic troupe.
She came to the university unsure of her major. When all of her friends started declaring their paths of study, she remained undecided.
Because she babysits during the week, both during the school year and over the summer, she realized the time she continues to spend caring for children should be integrated into her future job.
Looking back, Filban realizes that her former experience as a puppeteer influenced her decision to pursue an education major, though she didn’t know it at the time.
“It kind of led me to wanting to do children’s ministry. That’s why I want to teach now,” she said.
When Filban’s church team improved, they progressed to telling stories through song.
“There was one called ‘Lazarus Come Forth’ that I loved,” she said. “I got the main part. We had 16 little puppets that were adorable, and we would also have props.”
One of Filban’s favorite memories is of one of the group’s mistakes. The actors intended to spell “Jesus for the crowd, but the first person forgot the “J,” which confused the children.
“Esus is a huge joke in our youth group. We went to nationals with Esus,” she said, laughing.
Filban met sophomore education major Savannah Davis on her first day at UMHB.
Davis discovered her friend’s hidden talent last semester.
She said, “When I first found out, I was really shocked because I didn’t think anyone actually did that in real life. Now, it’s pretty cool.”
Sophomore marketing major Jessica Pitcaithly lives with Filban.
She didn’t discover Filban’s secret talent until far later in their relationship.
Pitcaithly said, “I feel like I’m living with a celebrity. She is known in her church for performing with puppets, and I didn’t even know about it. She keeps it under wraps, and that’s a big deal to me. It really adds to her personality, though. I’m still trying to figure out what she is all about.”

Author: Katelyn Holm

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