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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Northwest theatre faculty and students display a set of puppets recently donated to the program by a local family.

Northwest theatre faculty and students display a set of puppets recently donated to the program by a local family. (Photos by Todd Weddle/Northwest Missouri State University)

    Feb. 4, 2016

    Family’s donation to theater program gives new life to puppets

    By Lexi Ryan, media relations assistant

    Theatre students Jacque Davidson and Hannah Jahal practice with puppets that were part of Betty Shoemaker's collection and recently donated to Northwest.

    Theatre students Jacque Davidson and Hannah Jahal practice with puppets that were part of Betty Shoemaker's collection and recently donated to Northwest.

    Betty Shoemaker's collection of puppets featured a variety of characters, including this dog that was the first puppet she created in the 1940s.

    Betty Shoemaker's collection of puppets featured a variety of characters, including this dog that was the first puppet she created in the 1940s.

    Northwest Missouri State University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts recently received a generous donation of 30 puppets from a local family.

    “The students will interact with, archive and restore these amazing things,” Stephanie Jorandby, assistant professor of theatre, said. “We don’t get to do things with puppets a lot. We don’t often have much space between courses offered and production budgets to incorporate puppetry.”

    Carol O’Riley, a local resident and Northwest alumna, contacted the University about the donation after the death of her mother, Betty Shoemaker, last year. Shoemaker had attended a puppetry showcase students presented at Northwest in 2011, and the experience left an impact that motivated the donation.

    While working as a window dresser for Halls, a department store division of Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri, Shoemaker created her own puppets and performed with them at local schools and nursing homes.

    She started making the puppets in the early 1940s, and the first puppet she created, a small dog, was included in the family’s donation.

    “Each puppet carries with it a lifetime’s worth of memories that give them character and personality, and it’s a privilege to be able to experience that history, and a responsibility to keep it alive,” Shawn Murphy, a sophomore theatre performance major from Redfield, Iowa, said.

    The puppets were crafted with unique movements to fit the marionette’s personality. An Angelina Ballerina puppet was given weighted shoes that allow her to use the iconic pointe technique with which ballerinas are associated. Each puppet features its own outfit or accessories.

    Northwest students will use the puppets for classes. Murphy is planning to do an independent study about restoring them.

    “My intention is to restore these puppets to performance condition, if possible, and if not, then restore them enough to be put on display,” Murphy said. “I am very new to the world of puppetry and this opportunity is perfect for me to get a better understanding of what goes into puppet and marionette making, and by doing so greatly build upon my passion for puppetry.”


    For more information, please contact:

    Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
    mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

    Northwest Missouri State University
    215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468