The Story of Puppet Nest!
Notes from Sandy Spieler about the re-homing of puppets following the closing of In the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s puppet warehouse
2021 Announcement: In the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s Puppet Warehouse to be disbanded.
In August 2021, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) announced the closing of their warehouse on October 1 2021, disbanding thousands of puppets, banners, and shows from the 45 years of the Theatre’s work.
Shortly after came the announcement that HOBT would also give up its home space, the Avalon Theater*.
Without a solid plan, the Warehouse was completely cleared by October 1, 2021
Some artists arrived to take puppets they had designed or built to their homes. I repaired some figures to be given to public spaces in the community, and to the families of artists no longer living. Laura Wilhelm made agreements with the Minnesota Museum of American Art and the Hennepin History Museum to accept select puppets. Kurt Hunter led an auction of certain puppets to provide some funding to help ease the situation. Many things moved to the Avalon Theatre for temporary storage.
And I tried to figure out what to do with my work of 45 years.
What will happen to the Puppets?
I had initiated and built much of the work, but rarely alone. Each puppet has the work of many participants’ hands etched in their bodies.
I wanted to harbor puppets and painted/printed banners for continued use in Shows, Processions, Ceremonies, Protests, Installations and Honorings. I sorted the work to protect many things, including beautiful animals and birds made for various Maydays and full shows such as La Natividad, Crow Boy, Are You Thirsty?, collaborations with the Orchestra, and all the useful work for the Water. I also protected some of the very old puppets.
What to do?
Eight different neighbors offered temporary storage in their homes and garages, and I accepted their help. I am eternally grateful for these neighbor’s generosity as the months piled up so much longer than I ever imagined!!
Thank you Silvano Aquilar, Steve Ackerman, Steve Sandberg, Micah Spieler-Sandberg, Bridget Lally, Greg Leierwood, and Stephanie, Bjorn, and Bethany for the extra help moving and setting up temporary storage in 8 different spaces.
A plan emerges: Puppet Nest: to tend the continuation of generous work.
A team came together to help re-home the puppets. After researching many options, a plan emerges to prepare two side-by-side spaces in my backyard by repairing the existing garage, and building a new safe structure.
(1) Repair the doors and floor of the existing garage to receive non-fragile frames and bulky support structures.
(2) Build a new 20ft x 26ft space to receive and “nest” puppets in a good way, protecting them from dampness and rodents.
“Sussel Garages” will build the foundation and frame of the new structure. Friends and co-workers promise to complete the build with insulating/drywall and finishing work of the new space, repairing the old garage, building shelves and finally, MOVING THE PUPPETS IN!
Thanks to the many people who helped think of this solution: Harvey Winje, Susan Gust, Peter Schulze, Greg Leierwood, Sarah Wilson, Ewart Martens, Alex Haecker, Derk Scholtz, Neal Cuthbert, Leif, Vanessa, Brian, Richard Parnell and Liz Pedersen
Thanks also to Dan Newman, Catherine Jordan, David O’Fallon and Peter D’Ascoli who’ve gathered to help guide the plan all the way.
Fundraising Begins to Build Puppet Nest
As the news of this plan to care for the puppets spread person-to-person, donations arrived, and formal fundraising began in December 2021.
By September 2022, we had enough funds for the Build to begin…
Construction of the new building began September 13, 2022
Sussel Garages sent various teams of builders to the site, each team beautifully choreographed with their focused piece of the build process. They arrived to build “a garage”, but I told them they were actually building a “Puppet Nest”. I shared the story of the warehouse closure and showed them examples of the puppets. I invited them each to return when the work is complete so they can sign their name on the building!
Thank you, I remember you each:
Angel, Luis, Jared, Ashden, Sam, Joe, Tony, Juan, Armando, Gabriel, Luis, Samuel, Sebastian, Pedro, Omar, Lucas, Kevin, James, Darryl, Paul, Domaegas, Tim, Mike.
By January, Sussel completed most of the new structure with a promise to finish some of the exterior work in the Spring 2023.
Thus, in January the insulating work began, ironically in the coldest days of Winter!
In mid-March I made the commitment to neighbors who are holding puppets to clear them from their spaces by May 1 2023. When the floor of the new space unfreezes, we will seal it, and then begin the process of building shelves and retrieving the puppets. At that point repairs will also begin on the existing garage.
Thank you: Silvano Aguilar, Mike Hansel, Steve Lick, Beth Forest, Meaza Wuhib, Peter D’Ascoli, Greg Leierwood, Nate, Leif, Vanessa, Brian, Mark Schultz, Sarah Wilson, Allen Christian, and thanks to HOBT for the use of the scaffolding.
In mid-March I made the commitment to neighbors who are holding puppets to clear them from their spaces by May 1 2023.
As of mid-April 2023, we had the promise of funds needed to complete the Puppet Nest. And so, as the outside ground heated up, we were able to clean the floor, tint a spiral into the cement, and seal the entire floor.
Now begins the process of building shelves and retrieving the puppets. We will also begin repairs on the existing garage.
The Welcoming of the Puppets
As with any move, I know it will take many weeks to sort puppets, masks, and banners into the space towards an efficient and beautiful installation.
I look forward to the day when we plan an opening for Puppet Nest, and I hope YOU will come to visit!!
Thanks to the 120 folks who have donated funds and muscle to build Puppet Nest. I could not dream that this was possible, but YOU made it REAL!
As the Nest is activated, the adventure continues to nurture and generate work for the health and joy of our community.
Contributors to Puppet Nest aka Home for Puppets
Greg Leierwood, Greta McLain, Elani, Patty Gille, Phil Salmon, Eleanor Savage, Sandy Spieler, John Schuerman, Carol Witte, Carole Senty, Richard Miller, Pam Costain, Steve and Christine Clemens, Amy Blumenshine, Mike Troutman, Aurelia Wills, Mary Pat Dunlap, Barbara Peterson, Mark Roudane, Donald Arnosti, Margaret Malde-Arnosti, Dennis Cornhill, Susan Keskinen, Thaddeus Iwaszek, Sarah Wright, Ellen Hufschmidt, Gayla Ellis, Joe Musich, David O’Fallon, Gene and Nancy Zemske, Patricia Clarke, Joel Schwartz, Jerod Peterson, Ann Henry, Mattie Weiss, Rosa Costain, Anna Bloomstrand, Flo Golod, Mary Hartnett, Joe Knaeble, Meri Golden, Tom Homme, Peter D’Ascoli, Susan Tapp, Paul Eaves and Kathleen Rickert, Pamela Sheen, Barbara and David Tilsen, Charlotte MCK Lewis, Maneesha Wesley Jain, John Swenson, Mark Langholz, Christine and Pat Leehey, Karen Hoffman, Vicki Kunerth, Karen Lehman, Ann Murphy O’Fallon, Finn Ryan, Dan and Carol Newman, Fred Just, Catherine Jordan, Steve Lick, Pamela and Rosendo Martin-Diaz, Robert Simonds/Karen Margolis, Phyllis Wiener and Shay Berkowitz, Owen Anderson, August Schwerdfeger, Richard Parnell and Brenda Steve, Steven Gag, Laura Gang, Deb Hastings-Koepsell, Paula Holden, Ricardo Levins Morales, Ann Manning, Mary Younke, Jeong Ae Neal, Lisa Knazan, Dennis Levendowski, Mikal and Kelle Knotek, Laurence, Nancy, Bryce and Forrest Rosenbower, Repo, Mark Grefsrud, Neal Cuthbert and Louise Robinson, Denise Mayotte, Lowell Hesterman, Jim McCreary and Gretchen Olson, Nadja Reubenova, Thomas Wells, Paul Robinson, Jane Ramseyer Miller, Susan Haugh, Margo McCreary, Margaret Rozycki, Sandy Gerber, Peter Zeftel and Penny, Mike Temali, Joseph M Chvala, Kurt and Kathy Hunter, David Dugoff and Victoria Bor, Craig David, Jullonne Glad, Gerry Tyrrell and Kevin Ruether, Joyce Bowers, Bill Snyder, the Poker group, Mary Lou Ratz, Patrick and Beth Ciernia, Mary Jane Lavigne, Allen Christian, John Klein, Gaia D’Ascoli, Mose Ouray, Ellen and Jerry Abbott, Anonymous, Stephen and Margaret Swanson, Maria Genne, Christopher Anderson, Krista Spieler, Thomas Smith, Martha Boesing, Anonymous, Sally Nankivell, Daniel Bergin, Celia Swanson, Rosemary Welch, Colleen Sheehy, Nicole Mary Milligan, Anonymous, Mary Bren, Miichael Fargione, Anonymous, Tom Borrup, Stephen Rueff, Jennifer Williams, Caitlin O’Fallon, Eric Berger, Virginia Christensen, Stephanie Windfeldt, Deb Leavitt, Amy Haslett-Marroquin, Felice Amato, Carole Humphrey, Rosemary Casper, Jocelyn Tilsen, Ken Meter, Mary Mortenson, Susan Rotilie, Patrick Darling, Jennette Turner, Andrea Kuenning, Paul Landskroener, Tamar Green, Hannah Knazan-Lippman, Kristin Johnstad, Charles Kernler, Margaret Miles, Patrick Wadden, C Puent, Gail Irish, Jonathan Stegal, James Cullum, Beth Peterson, Rebecka Tilsen, Marg Rozycki, Bruce Blacher, James Lenfestey, Kirstin Wiegmann, William Read, Andy Pearson, Mari Kempton
Thank you for your support of Puppet Nest.
In case you wish to support the on-going life of the Nest, please get ahold of me:
3227 23rd Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Theatre of The Everyday Miracle
*In the Heart of the Beast Theatre (HOBT) ended up not selling the Avalon, and currently plans to keep some puppets for use through HOBT, also continuing to use certain puppets from Puppet Nest.