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Puppets and imagination

In the hands of Laura Ewald, paper plates, plastic cups, felt and false eyelashes can be transformed into colorful puppets, like a turtle with extra long lashes or a furry brown rabbit in felt running shoes.

Pearl the Turtle and Rusty Rabbit were lined up alongside the Porcupine and the Pig in Ewald’s workspace. All four characters are puppets in the Everyman Puppet Theatre and were crafted from materials that are cheap and easy to find.

Their bodies are paper plates or bowls covered in felt or faux fur—or in the case of the pig, bright pink felt and foam. Snouts are shaped from plastic cups or medicine caps, and the creatures are brought to life with googly eyes.

“When you start looking at everything and thinking, ‘How could I make that a puppet?’ that’s when you’re a puppeteer,” said Ewald.

While Ewald is the puppeteer, Mary Beth Magee is the storyteller of the show. The pair work together to tell fables of their own creation, like “Pearl the Turtle Saves the Day,” a story written by Magee based on a children’s book character she created. 

The puppet theater began eight years ago, but Ewald has been making puppets for over 30 years. She began puppetry as a college student at the University of Washington when she took a puppet making class from puppeteer Aurora Valentinetti. The Paddington Bear puppet she crafted in that class from paper and glue still has a spot in her workspace, alongside newer creations like a yellow seahorse and a well-dressed colonial man.

For the last two years, Ewald and Magee have worked together to put on puppet shows and hold workshops to encourage kids to create with their hands and spend more time away from electronics.

“Kids will make up stories if you give them a puppet,” said Ewald.

A puppet show does not require many props, scenery or set, said Magee, just puppets and imagination.

Along with teaching children and parents how to create affordable puppets, and encouraging people to try puppetry, the pair want to tell stories that offer a positive message. The two women write stories that are morality plays meant to teach positive messages.

Ewald and Magee will be teaching their next puppet workshop and performing a puppet show at the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. To learn more about the puppet theater, visit their Facebook page or go to LauraAnneEwald.com/theatre-arts.html. The theater can be contacted at TheEverymanPuppetTheatre@gmail.com.