Puppetry club to join GV’s student life organizations

GVL / Courtesy - Jason Yancey, faculty advisor for the GVSU puppet club.

GVL / Courtesy – Jason Yancey, faculty advisor for the GVSU puppet club.

Maddie Forshee

Live puppet shows are not very common at Grand Valley State University, but for anyone interested in puppetry and performance, a group of students are trying something new in an effort of establishing a campus puppet club.

The group began as an extension of a Spanish class. Jason Yancey, a professor in the Spanish department, was able to incorporate his love of puppetry into a Spanish theater class that he taught during a semester.

Yancey had taken a puppetry class as part of his theater major requirements in undergraduate school, and ended up developing an interest and love for the hobby. He was offered the opportunity to perform at various festivals, children’s hospitals and the chance to work with nonprofit groups.

Once at GVSU, Yancey was able to incorporate his love of puppetry into his passion for teaching. In the class, students write plays in Spanish, create their own puppets and visit different schools in the area to perform their plays for kids.

“A lot of the time, I’d get emails from teachers in the area asking if we could come back,” Yancey said.

He said now that he’s not currently teaching the puppet class, the club will be a good way to continue doing puppet shows for the kids.

Yancey had adapted Don Quixote into a puppet play called ‘Quijóteres!’, which was performed in his Spanish theater class by a group of four students. The group of students performed locally at GVSU and in surrounding areas, then took their show national by going to Iowa and performing at Buena Vista University.

“When we go to schools, my students are like rock stars,” Yancey said. “The kids love it.”

One of the student volunteers, Katie Munoz, is now acting as the unofficial club president while she and Yancey try to get more officers and members in order to become a registered student organization.

Munoz was part of the ‘Quijoteres!’ performance last semester when Yancey asked her to be on the executive board for the puppet club. Munoz accepted, but the three other students in the performance group graduated at the end of the semester.

Since the club is not yet official, Munoz and Yancey are mostly focused on outreach and getting more people interested in the club.

“One thing I have learned from the class…is that everyone loves puppets,” Munoz said. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, puppets are awesome and it isn’t often that you get to see a live puppet show. One goal that I have for the puppet club is to bring the joy of puppets to the Grand Rapids community as well as the Grand Valley community.”

The group will have a meeting on Friday, Nov. 7 in Room 123 of Manitou Hall at 7 p.m.

At the meeting, the puppet stage will be set, and puppets will be out on display so anyone interested in joining can get a better feel of the puppets themselves. There will be a puppet workshop, as well as a discussion, about prospective accomplishments for the club.

For more information about the puppet club, contact Katie Munoz at
[email protected].