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Paperhand Puppet Intervention

From the inside of an aging gymnasium in rural Saxapahaw, NC, puppeteers breathe life into recycled materials to build giant puppets, masks, shadows and silhouettes.

Paperhand Puppet Intervention, founded a decade ago by Donovan Zimmerman and Jan Burger, is a group of puppeteers and musicians who specialize in making whimsical creatures ranging from a sun mask the size of a basketball goal to shadow puppets the size of a fingernail.

“We tend toward the fantastical,” Burger says. “But we’re inspired by the natural world and the things we see around us. … We’ll see an old guy walking down the road and I’ll say, ‘I’d love to make a mask of somebody with a face like that’.”

Footage and editing: Travis Long

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