Sobel ’01 Educates Children with Her Handcrafted Puppets

Anna Sobel '01 (Photo by Jerrey Roberts)

Anna Sobel ’01 is the owner Talking Hands Theater, an educational puppetry company she began in New York City and now runs in western Massachusetts. She was recently profiled about her work by Steve Pfarrer in the Amherst Bulletin. Sobel makes her own puppets of all sizes to entertain children, but she also uses them to educate kids about such social issues as environmentalism, healthy eating, and conflict resolution.

Sobel first started working with puppets after seeing a performance at Wesleyan of the Bread and Puppet Theater, which uses puppets to convey political messages. As an undergraduate she worked with Kids on the Block, which gave puppet shows about social issues such as children’s disabilities. After graduation, she joined the Blue Sky Puppet Theater in Maryland, where she learned how to design puppets, stage shows, and do voice work.

In 2003, Sobel had a Fulbright fellowship in India where she studied how puppetry is utilized there to promote social change and education, both to children and adults. She also has a master’s degree in educational theater and worked in New York as a teaching artist.

In the Amherst Bulletin, Sobel says: “I love what I do. It’s a way of showing kids that there’s another way to make a life, that you can craft your own life. I think that’s a pretty important message just by itself.”

David Low

David Low '76 writes about arts and culture for the Wesleyan magazine and Wesleyan Connection. He is associate director of publications in the Office of University Communications. He is also a published fiction writer. E-mail: