EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan — Play is the purpose here at the Puppet Kitchen. The chefs conceive, design and assemble these furry friends from scratch.
“This is where all the magic happens," Eric Wright, co-founder, showed me. “Every puppet we build starts with a drawing and lots and lots of sketches. We use tons of different kinds of fabric, we use tons of different kinds of building materials, so we really use everything."
From local plays to TV shows to international productions, puppets cooked up here entertain people of all ages, in all situations.
“He goes around to hospitals to help talk to kids who are having trouble and makes them feel better," Eric described of one of the puppets.
This has been a lifelong passion for the three co-founders, who joined forces in 2008. "I studied with the Ringling Brothers for clowning and I did theater in school," Michael Schupbach said. "This was sort of a nice way to bring [together] the performance, some of the construction and just the joy we want to have in our jobs.”
It's a carefree feeling they also bring to children and adults through workshops.
“We’re very focused on bringing the community in," Kayla Prestel, studio manager, explained. "You don’t have to do this for a living to make a puppet. You can come in without any experience, and in two hours make something like this."
The full puppet experience comes the moment you slip one on and transform into character.
“When you can get a response from a group of people where they aren't actually responding to you the actor or the puppeteer, they’re responding to something you and the audience are collaboratively bringing to life, there’s something really magic about that," Prestel said.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi