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Bloomington Puppet Troupe Calls It Quit After 45 Years
Updated May 5, 2013 1:11 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - Nina Ost will be keeping at least one puppet after she says goodbye to the Puck Players Puppet Theatre.

"I'm keeping a witch," she said. "She's mine; my alter ego."

The Associated Press reports, the Puck Players Puppet Theatre will be closing after more than 45 years of operation.

A final event, called the Puppet Mingle, will take place at the Monroe County Public Library's atrium on April 6 from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Past and present puppeteers will be on hand with their favorite puppets, and attendees will be able to borrow puppets for themselves. There will also be an opportunity to make puppets in the children's department of the library.

"We did our last show this fall, but it was set up as a show," Ost told The Herald-Times . "This is a celebration of the end."

Ost is one of the founding puppeteers of the troupe, which began as the master's thesis project for Marion Jacobus at Indiana University in the 1960s.

Though Jacobus eventually moved away, the puppeteers continued to perform, doing about 13 plays during the year throughout southern Indiana.

Ost has worn many hats as a member of the Puck Players, including running the organization for the past several years. But at 80, she is ready to retire, and no one in the troupe wanted to step up and fill her role. With her retirement, it made sense to also disband the theater.

"We would only turn it over to someone that would follow our path," Ost said. "Dispersing the puppets and finding homes for them makes more sense."

Tom Zoss has been involved in the Puck Players on-and-off since the 1970s, most recently serving as the "ticket lady" for performances. He said the troupe has found it harder and harder to recruit performers to learn the puppetry arts.

There was an artistry to the theater, and it was more than just a hobby for children's birthday parties for the performers, Zoss said. The Puck Players added their own twist to every show.

"All of the shows they performed weren't just taken out of a story book -- there was always a local angle," he said, noting that familiar characters would do things like visit local landmarks or cross local streams.

The Puck Players are one of the many reasons Bloomington is a great city, Zoss said, and though he agrees with Ost that it is time for the troupe to retire, he is sad to see it go.

"I think that's a legacy that will be lost, live theater for adults and children," he said. "This will create a hole."

Ost said she will treasure the years she had with the Puck Players, but feels all right with the theater's end.

"I don't feel particularly sad ending it," Ost said. "We had a hell of a run."

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