Perspective of Purpose: Pleasant View Residents Dotti and Steve Seitz

dotti and steve seitz pleasant view residents

The residents at Pleasant View bring with them a rich background of impressive careers, beautiful families, and exciting passions. As part of our new “Perspective of Purpose” series, we are featuring some of these residents and how they’ve continued—or perhaps discovered—their life’s work in retirement.

Today’s story profiles Pleasant View residents Dotti and Steve Seitz, who discovered a passion for puppetry and ventriloquism in retirement. Guided by their love of storytelling, the couple has written and performed puppet shows for audiences aged 5 to 105 since retiring in 2007.

Dotti and Steve Turned to Puppetry and Storytelling in Retirement

Dotti Seitz had her first encounter with puppets when she found herself unemployed in 2003.

After working for many years in American Indian and Alaskan Native affairs, Dotti now had the rare opportunity to try something new.

dotti seitz with puppetsHer American Indian background—she is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes— inspired her love of storytelling and she had always been fond of puppets.

“I’m a big fan of Sesame Street,” Dotti said. “My daughter was a performer on the show.”

On a whim, she bought some puppets at the Kutztown Folk Festival in Pennsylvania. When she attempted to donate them to a Christian Puppet training festival, she was encouraged to join the workshop and ultimately did. From there, Dotti formed a tiny puppet ministry at her church in Maryland.

When Steve Seitz retired from his position at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2007, he joined Dotti in her storytelling pursuits and the two founded their company, The Puppet and Story Works, that same year.

“Steve is a very gifted storyteller,” Dotti said.

Puppetry and Storytelling Led Them to Pleasant View

Together, Dotti and Steve created various shows that they took to different communities, primarily churches. Besides puppetry, Dotti and Steve also became familiar with ventriloquism and added it to their repertoire. They take pride in creating shows that are “dynamic, laughter-filled, family-friendly, and interactive.”

In 2011, the couple relocated to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and brought their puppet troupe along with them. In addition to churches, the couple also took their show to retirement homes and featured their elder puppets, Clarence and Viola.  That is how they became aware of Pleasant View and eventually moved to the community in 2018.

Puppetry Offers a Different Entry Point into Difficult Topics

Despite the fun and enjoyment they have brought to communities far and wide, Dotti said there is a common misconception about puppetry and ventriloquism.

“Most people think it’s just for children,” she said. “That could not be further from the truth.”

Puppetry can have a profound impact on people of all ages, Steve added. The magic lies in offering a different entry point into difficult topics, he said.

dotti and steve seitz partner in puppetry“People are more willing to hear what a puppet has to say than a person,” Steve said. “Puppets can say things that a teacher or lecturer cannot; they are able to utter things that most people are too afraid to say.”

In that regard, puppetry allows people to laugh at themselves, as is the case with the couple’s elder puppets. In their show, playfully titled “Senior Moments,” Dotti and Steve can discuss themes around aging and mortality without audience members becoming insulted or defensive.

“Puppets soften the audience, making them more willing to engage with heavy themes,” Dotti said.

Engaging in Community Service with Puppetry

Dotti and Steve’s shows are not merely for entertainment.

The couple has discovered meaningful ways to use their puppetry to engage in community service, as well. Most notably, Dotti and Steve have performed with The Kids on the Block (KOB) puppet programs, shows that tour schools and raise awareness about various topics including bullying, school safety, disability, and autism. In this work, Steve also calls upon his experience as a psycho-dramatist—a field he said he worked in for about 10 years. Through psychodrama, Steve came to understand the profound therapeutic effect of performance and storytelling.

In addition to KOB, Dotti has also volunteered with her puppets at local hospitals, bringing a sense of joy and companionship to patients.

Today, Dotti and Steve have scaled back on their show tours, but storytelling remains a big part of their lives. Recently, Steve participated in—and won—a Liar’s Contest at a folk festival in York, PA.

Outside of the storytelling realm, Steve has discovered a passion for hydroponics. Dotti continues to teach and brings her storytelling experience to individuals in the community.

“Puppetry and ventriloquism take a lot of time and care,” she said. “It’s not just about putting a character on your hand and off you go.”

Anyone who meets Steve and Dotti can immediately recognize the attentiveness and creativity they bring to their work. They relish bringing people joy, laughter, and healing through puppetry and stories.


This is what it means to live life well. This is what it means to embrace a Perspective of Purpose. For more information about our culture at Pleasant View, give us a call at 717-665-2445, or schedule a tour and stop by for a visit!

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