Karin Eberle’s family and friends think she has one daughter. But Eberle harbors a dark secret: She has 26 other children.
Of course, her other children are puppets that she, her husband and friends have brought to life during her 30 years as a puppeteer. Two current members of the Eberle Puppet Players, Paige Whitney and Suzanne Braddick, live in East Dallas.
Eberle’s interest was sparked after watching a movie of a Little Red Riding Hood puppet play. Living in North Carolina at the time, the German native decided to devise a puppet play with German flair for the community.
“My husband wrote the story, I helped him with the dialogue and rhymes, he built the stage, a friend and I made some costumes, then we got a group of actors and housewives together and started playing,” Eberle says. “In 20 days, we had the show on the road.”
Later, the Eberles moved to Dallas, where she became one of the founding Dallas Puppet Guild members. Four years ago, Old City Park’s craft fair director asked if she would perform a puppet show for the fair. But instead of performing with professional puppeteers, she chose the friends and artists who perform with her today for children throughout Dallas.
The seven Eberle Puppet Players not only donate their time to perform; they also create the puppets, costumes, sets and props needed to enhance their German fairy tales.
During performances, the puppeteers encourage children to interact with the puppets. The more children interact with the puppets, “the more it all comes alive,” Whitney says.
In fact, following performances, some children reach for the puppets to kiss and hug them.
“It’s just total love coming out of their faces. It’s wonderful,” Whitney says.
“We can just lose ourselves and play,” Eberle says. “You forget your daily chores, your obligations and you’re just that mean character or that good one.”
The puppet troupe recently received a City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs grant to purchase new sound equipment and pay expenses, Braddick says. Next year, the troupe will seek a matching grant from a corporation to help build a portable stage for productions. Their current stage is 20 years old.
The troupe spends about seven hours a week rehearsing and performing. But the time is well-spent, Whitney says.
“Being able to fantasize and play was a big part of my childhood. If I can give that to other kids, especially kids who don’t have a chance or don’t have parents who can take them to a puppet show, it will keep the arts alive,” Whitney says.
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