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Join us for the opening reception for our exhibit Circle of Water: Puppetry as an Agent of Changean outdoor community celebration with food, drinks, special recognition of the COWC performers, and entertainment by Sandy Spieler, Kevin Kling, Loren Niemi, and Nanci Olesen.

In 1983, twenty-five adults, five children, and two dogs embarked from Brainerd, Minnesota on a four-month odyssey down the Mississippi River, culminating in New Orleans. As part of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre of Minneapolis (HOBT), these performers and musicians sought to highlight the importance of water and the inextricable link between the great river and all beings who live near it. Stopping at twenty-one cities, the Circle of Water Circus (COWC) featured over 150 puppets and props. The show explored the history of the Mississippi River and water themes, combining the entertainment of the circus, the pageantry of puppetry, and the call to action of a protest.   

This 2-year exhibit and accompanying program series are being developed in collaboration with Sandy Spieler, COWC Director and former HOBT Artistic Director, and Laura Wilhelm, Former Board Chair of HOBT. The exhibit will be a colorful, whimsical, family-friendly, and educational experience featuring many of the puppets used in the original COWC production. 

Sandy Spieler‘s work includes tiny puppet shows, community collaborative performances and ceremonies, main stage theater productions, and public art installations. Led by curiosity, awe, outrage, and love, she worked with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre for 45 years and now nurtures a Puppet Nest as “Theatre of the Everyday Miracle.” Her love and work for the Water will always evolve and continue.

Kevin Kling is a humorist, playwright and storyteller who believes that if you freeze paradise, it lasts a little longer.

Loren “Dr Buzz” Niemi is a storyteller, poet, and one-time ringmaster of the Circle of Water Circus.

Nanci Olesen is a retired teacher. She draws pictures and plays the piano. She still remembers the smell of the old canvas tent she lived in with Steve Epp while rehearsing the Circle of Water Circus.

Artwork by Sandy Spieler

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