The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Strayer-Wood production: A closer look at the Avenue Q puppets

Between the dates of Feb 26 through March 1 and March 5 through 7, the UNI Theater Department put on a production of Avenue Q, a play that dealt with problems many recent graduates face, only through the eyes of puppets. 

These puppets, however, were not rented for the show, but made entirely by hand. Jennifer Sheshko Wood and Mark Parrott, assistant professors in the theatre department, led the puppet design for the show.

“Because as a department we try to anticipate, we actually had a puppetry class last spring. And so it was one of our special topics, it’s a floating course,” said Wood. “So it covers an upper level design aspect that we haven’t covered in a show or the students have interest in it. And so there was enough students to populate, more than enough students, so Mark had a puppetry class.”

Wood went on to say that the reason they decided to go with handmade puppets was in part to offer a new learning experience, since the department had not previously made puppets, and also in part because of the cost. 

The building of the puppets also proved to be very time consuming.

“I’d guesstimate about 40 hours per puppet,” Wood said. “That’s not every student working on every puppet … But because it goes down to the details of: we had to make the eyes, we had to make the noses, we had to make the ears and then attach all those details. I’d say on some of the puppets, 40 hours is a conservative estimate. You know, Rod’s hair took four hours just to make the hair. But then we made two different Rods, so that’s eight hours on hair alone.”

With so much time being spent on the puppets, Wood said that one of the biggest struggles was keeping track of all the details and keeping them consistent throughout the different builds of the same puppet, mainly because the people working on one build weren’t necessarily the same people working on another build.

On the contrary, Wood said that the biggest rewards she got out of this experience was being able to shop for “adorable clothing” and seeing how dedicated the students were.

“I was just really touched,” said Wood, “that so many of them would put in so many extra hours just to get these things done on a show that came up really fast in the semester.”

After the show had come and gone, Wood made note of the attachment the actors had with their puppets, with some “giving their puppets a goodbye hug.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Northern Iowan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *