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COVID-19 blew out the candles on Eulenspiegel’s 45th altogether back-bite planned for March 22, but the West Liberty boob affiliation still is adulatory to reconnect with bodies in being afterwards this summer.
Monica Leo, the troupe’s co-founder, advance puppeteer and managing director, is attractive advanced to appearance the anniversary abutting spring.
“I’m actually acquisitive for the time aback we can accept animate audiences again,” she said. “I acknowledge the actuality that there are added things we can do; I’m aggravating to blot as abundant adroitness out of this as I possibly can.”
Leo, Outreach Administrator Stephanie Vallez and aggregation accept pulled their strings to actualize chargeless basic workshops, shows and abstraction guides on Eulenspiegel’s website, owlglass.org.
Vallez additionally has a new appearance bustling up, “Kate Shelley’s Alternation Rescue,” absorption on a affiliate of 19th aeon Iowa history fueled by a teenager’s adventuresome accomplishment afterwards a railroad arch collapsed.
Born Sept. 25, 1865, in Ireland, Shelley and her ancestors emigrated to America aback she was 1½ years old, eventually clearing in rural Boone County. Shelley’s ancestor formed as a foreman for a aggregation architecture railroad tracks, and the ancestors lived forth Honey Creek, a accessory of the Des Moines River.
A beam flood on the afternoon of July 6, 1881, done out the timbers below the Honey Creek railroad bridge, and about 11 p.m., a pusher adaptable beatific to analysis on the arch plunged into the water. Shelley heard the blow and raced to the scene, award two of the four aggregation associates still alive.
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Knowing a commuter alternation was advancing afterwards that night, she ran for help. Forth the way, she had to clamber beyond the Des Moines River arch to complete an anxiety and get advice to accomplishment the abandoned crew.
Among her abounding awards and accolades, a new arch and commuter alternation were afterwards called in her honor.
Vallez’s boob comedy was developed for Eulenspiegel’s summer adjacency tour, which about includes a dozen performances in Iowa Burghal parks. The burghal hasn’t canceled the July and August contest yet, so Leo is acquisitive maybe some of the shows still can go on. Vallez additionally will be presenting the appearance at a summer affected in Scott County in July, with the admirers breach into groups of 15.
Leo is developing a show, as well, featuring bewitched angle tales.
“I accept actually no abstraction aback it will be performed, but someday,” she said. “It’s consistently a acceptable abstraction to assignment on article creative, abnormally in a time like this — otherwise, the admiral of abasement alpha affairs at you.
“(From) aggregate I’ve been reading, it seems like it’s activity to be a while afore we can do annihilation in our space, because it’s allegedly way added acceptable for this ache to advance central than it is outdoors, so I’m acquisitive we can still do some alfresco assignment this summer.”
Eulenspiegel didn’t accept a home abject for 20 years, until Leo’s backward husband, John Jenks, saw the acceptable basic in a above Latino association centermost abutting to his admired alliance in city West Liberty. So the brace bought it, and Jenks, a carpenter, went to assignment transforming the battered amplitude into the Owl Glass Puppetry Center, 319 N. Calhoun St., accustomed in 1995.
The affiliation dates aback to the abatement of 1974, aback Deanne Wortman, a mime who lived up the artery from Leo in Iowa City, appropriate pooling their talents. Leo had led a kid’s boob affiliation at the library, and had been authoritative and affairs puppets at art fairs and Renaissance festivals, but begin herself amidst by “big puppets cipher capital to buy.”
“(Wortman) came over one day and said, ‘Why don’t we do some boob shows with those puppets — you can’t advertise them anyway,’” Leo said. “So that’s how we started.”
Their aboriginal paid appearance was staged at the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, which was confined acceptance with audition or eyes losses. Leo said the school’s approach was that the acceptance with audition losses could see the puppets and the acceptance with beheld losses could apprehend the stories.
Wortman additionally appropriate the Eulenspiegel name, aggressive by the “Till Eulenspiegel” German ballad she was account about a 14th aeon traveling barbarian antic whose name agency “owl mirror.”
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“I’m blessed with the name,” Leo said. “I amount cipher can spell it, cipher can accent it, but at atomic they admit it aback they see it.”
They performed calm for two years, bringing a brace added short-time artists onboard. In the bounce of 1975, Teri Jean Breitbach abutting the company, and she and Leo performed as a duo through the 1990s, aback they broadcast their agenda with musicians and added puppeteers.
Their able advance came in 1977, aback they abutting the Iowa Arts Council’s Artist in the Schools and Communities Program. In the ’80s, Breitbach casting their net farther, and they became allotment of Wyoming’s Artist in Education Program. In 1989, Eulenspiegel acquired nonprofit status, added accretion programming.
Leo and Brietbach performed for added than 30 years, traveling to 28 states, as able-bodied as Austria, Germany, Japan and the Czech Republic. Brietbach died eight years ago, but Leo has kept their dream animate with new partners, including Vallez.
Now 75 and active back 1989 in a log berth her bedmate congenital amid Lone Tree and Hills, Leo has been heartened by renewed absorption in her art anatomy during her career.
“The affair that I’ve been audition for as continued as I’ve been accomplishing it, is bodies cogent me that it’s a dying art, but it’s absolutely the opposite,” she said. “In this country, (puppetry) has accomplished absolutely a renaissance in the aftermost few decades.
She said it started with the baby array shows staged through the Depression-era Works Progress Administration affairs launched in 1935. Later, Jim Henson alien a new bearing of accouchement to puppets aback he abutting “Sesame Street” in 1969. Leo, however, said she was never absorbed in Henson’s Muppet appearance of aperture puppets.
“My parents were German immigrants, and I grew up with German duke puppets,” she said. “That’s added what I’m abiding in — that tradition.”
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