Eulenspiegel celebrates 45 years of puppetry fun:Updated
by Margaret Hurlbert
March 14, 2020

This event has been postponed and will be rescheduled at a later date.

WEST LIBERTY, Iowa—Beginning in 1975, Monica Leo, later joined by Deanne Wortman, Jenean Arnold, and Teri Jean Breitbach began a touring puppet theatre company. They called themselves Eulenspiegel and performed shows that both children and adults adored. Now, in 2020, Eulenspiegel will celebrate their 45th birthday and invites the community to come celebrate with them on March 22, the International Day of Puppetry.

Over the years, Eulenspiegel has experienced many changes, from working with a variety of artists from across the world, including the late Eli Portugal, Angela Polowy, Justin Cornett, and Stephanie Vallez to the creation of its own permanent location, the Owl Glass Puppetry Center in West Liberty. Through it all though, Leo sated she loves the fact that the young and the old still appreciate the magic and fun of puppet shows. “People still enjoy them just as much as they did 45 years ago,” she happily shared.

Along with developing creative stories and the puppets to tell them, Leo shared she valued opportunities she had to perform abroad in Germany. She recalls the honor of performing in the former East Germany in 1987 as the sole western theatre company and later getting to return to the region after unification in the 1990s and getting to see how the arts scene had changed.

However, for Leo, getting to get creative to produce pleasing shows always makes running Eulenspiegel worth it for her. “I get to be a jack of all trades,” she said: “I get to write. I get to perform. I get to build, and I get to make a visual performance for people to enjoy.”

To celebrate these and the many other highlights of Eulenspiegel’s first 45 years, several fun, family friendly events will take place at Owl Glass Puppetry Center March 22. From 1 to 4 p. m. guests can enjoy several performances, as well as enjoy cake and see memorabilia and historic puppets from the past. To begin the day’s performances, Corcoran Puppets from Wisconsin will fittingly perform, “Jolly’s Birthday Party.” Next, Leo will perform her very own creation, “The Little Old Lady and the Riceballs.” Finally, Eulenspiegel artist Vallez will perform “Puppet Potpourri,” an interactive audience favorite. Near the end of the celebration, visitors can watch a 2005 documentary that features footage of Eulenspiegel at the West Liberty Children’s Festival and marching in the fair parade.

Free and open to the public, Leo hopes for a good turnout and large audiences for the 45th Birthday Bash. “Every audience is different, and it keeps it interesting,” she explained. A West Liberty favorite for nearly half a century, the theatre’s many fans will surely look forward to celebrating their ongoing success.

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