Make ’em laughPublished 10:11am Friday, July 13, 2012
By Colleen Thompson, staff internsheet
Jim Jayes and his marionettes graced the Albert Lea Children’s Library Thursday with their presence. Children’s laughter could be heard as soon as the door opened.
“How’s everybody doing today?” children’s librarian Patty Greibrok shouted as she introduced the show.
She was answered with 112 responses: “Good!”
The children, from infants to elementary age, sat on the carpeted area to watch Jayes as he turned two ropes into three in front of a crowd of O-shaped mouths.
“Now I could make this handkerchief stand straight up all on its own,” Jayes said as he pulled out a white handkerchief out of a bag. “But I’m sure you don’t want to see that.”
The disagreement was loud and clear as the wide-eyed children begged to see it.
Jayes proceeded to turn a simple handkerchief into different figures and shapes, such as a doughnut, pizza, diaper, purse, Tootsie Roll and mouse.
“Puppetry is taking things that don’t look real and making them real,” Jayes told the children.
He also brought out a Raggedy Ann doll with a couple “loose limbs.” The children roared as Jayes would fix one arm and the other one would become longer.
He ended the show with traditional European marionettes doing tricks to music. The scarecrow that could separate his own body and a bear that could juggle a blue ball brought another bout of giggles from the children.
“It’s fun to make kids laugh,” said Jayes, a custodian at Austin High School.
Jayes, originally from Sacramento, Calif., has been doing puppetry professionally for 40 years. He moved to southern Minnesota 15 years ago. Though he used to travel much more, lately he has stuck to summer shows, mainly in small, local towns. He also enjoys performing at benefits and fundraisers.
“I love putting a smile on their faces,” Jayes said.