An evening for puppets

Mary Atkinson · Wednesday, October 16, 2013
The Fourth Annual Puppet Slam in West Liberty, Sept. 27, drew the community to downtown's Tropical Allende Bar for a dose of performance art.

Performers came from inside and outside Iowa. While most were in West Liberty for the annual Children's Festival the next day, the evening gave them an opportunity to showcase their abilities in a different light.

The West Liberty Puppet Slam typically hosts a humorous adult theme, where performers show off their talents through skits they created with puppets or other props.

Monica Leo, of the Eulenspiegel Puppet Theatre Company in West Liberty, said the puppet slam gives puppeteers an opportunity to try out something new with the audience.

"It's an opportunity for performers to try out short bits that can be experimental, silly or outrageous," she said. "It doesn't necessarily have to be an adult theme."

Leo has organized the event each year and is looking to become a part of the larger Puppet Slam Network for next year's puppet slam. So far her event has been independent, but with it's growing popularity she aims to fix that.

Keith Shoberg and Madison Cripps were two of the nights performers. Hailing from the Toybox Theatre in Asheville, N. C., they host the 'Wham-bam Puppet Slam' every year.

"A lot of puppet slams work by using a handful of local artists as well as traveling visiting artists," said Shoberg.

He was also the emcee during the slam, and added that visiting artists bring certain flavors to the slams, where as in places like New York there are so many participants that shows have a variety of themes.

In fact, the network and popularity of puppet slams are growing from an underground movement to national popularity.

Shoeberg added that slams have a couple of universal rules.

"It should be a evening to late night show and specifically for adults," he said. "It's an evening of short form puppet theater. So all the pieces you see in the puppet slam are 5 to 10 minutes long and usually from a variety of puppeteers."

For more information on the Puppet Slam Network, or puppets in general, contact Monica Leo at 319-627-2487.
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