National Festival 2015

Image from "Spectacular Extravaganzas: The Puppetry of Frank Ballard," curated by Sarah Nolen at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, 2014.  Photo by John Bell.

Spectacular Extravaganzas: The Puppetry of Frank Ballard, Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry, Photo: John Bell.


Are you interested in puppetry? Imagine seeing  puppet shows you have read about on the web, in magazines and books. All that creativity, knowledge, information and history suddenly becomes real. Puppeteers of all kinds, from all disciplines, from all over the country and beyond gather for performances, workshops, shared inspiration and friendship. The most eclectic, focused, energizing  puppetry meetup you can conceive.  That’s a puppet festival.

Meet people who do what you do, love what you love. Meet people who get you, and your passion for puppetry. Puppet festivals are inspiration and imagination  brought to life.  Creativity is shared. Bonds are made, and friendships forged that will last beyond the festival.  You will be changed, and your puppetry will grow.


PFestAd-DaleEdit02FlatParticipant registration for the 2015 National Puppetry Festivavl begins January 2015.

Visit our Facebook page for updates, volunteers opportunities & more!



August 10, 2015

8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Curated by Judith O’Hare

“Teaching artists are professional artists who have also developed the ability as educators to effectively draw people into the arts and artistic engagement. Teaching artists are relied on in organizations including schools, arts institutions, senior centers, juvenile justice and corporate programs, to engage audiences and incite active arts participation. The teaching artist field has rapidly grown in the last two decades as their skills become progressively more important in a world where creativity is increasingly associated with productivity.”
– David Marshall, Massachusetts Cultural Council.

“Puppetry in therapy is an important aspect of the power of the puppet and an area that is growing nationally and internationally. It is important for us to explore how puppets can be used in a variety of ways in expressive therapy.”
– Judith O’Hare, Education Consultant, Puppeteers of America

The Professional Day for Teaching Artists and Therapists is Professional Development for puppeteers, educators and therapists who would like to be more effective while working in educational and therapeutic settings.

Call for Presentation Proposals!! 

Presentation Proposals can include:

  • projects that have been effective and how they have met the Common Core and state standards
  • information for evaluating process and results
  • training needed to be an effective Teaching Artist
  • research and advanced graduate study
  • use of technology
  • the role of Puppetry and the Arts in education and therapy today
  • how puppets relate to current educational philosophies in multiple intelligence, learning styles, literacy, and other curricular topics
  • guidelines and practices in using Puppetry in therapy
  • current philosophy on the use and effectiveness of Puppetry in therapy
  • other relevant topics

Each Presenter will be allotted 30 minutes – 20 minutes for the presentation and 10 minutes for discussion. Presentations should be focused on one topic and timed to allow for lively discussion.

Digital Projection will be available. Presenters should bring the appropriate dongle to connect their device to a VGA cord.

A certificate of completion will be given to Presenters and Participants to use for professional development points. 

Graduate Credit will be available through the University of Connecticut School of Education.

All Presenters will receive FREE REGISTRATION for the Professional Day for Teaching Artists and Therapists.


  • Should be sent to, with the subject heading “PDTAT Proposal”
  • Should include:
    • Name, affiliation and contact information (Address, Phone, email, Web Site)
    • The title of the presentation that you would like to offer.
    • Do you work with children and/or teachers?
    • In an attachment
      • The title and a one-paragraph description of your presentation.
      • a brief, specific overview of the presentation, including: target population; duration of the project; type of assessment; how it relates to goals, standards, educational styles, buzz words of the day, etc. Be Specific!
      • the experience that leads to your making this presentation.
      • a short bio.
      • a photo of you doing your puppetry work.

Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2014

Download a PDF of the call for proposals



Curated by Claudia Orenstein

The Critical Exchange is a series of discussions among practitioners, critics, and scholars, on selected topics, taking place during the 2015 Puppeteers of America National Festival, and co-sponsored by UNIMA-USA (the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette), which seeks to foster and enhance critical engagement within the puppet arts.

We are looking for participants from the fields of puppetry, theater, dance, visual art, film, animation and other related areas who would like to bring their thoughtful views about puppetry to address the topics listed below.

Participants may propose to address a topic by offering any of the following:

  • a scholarly presentation
  • a position paper
  • a performance, film, or other artistic work
  • to serve as a discussant or respondent
  • something else you would like to offer that we hadn’t thought of but is completely relevant


  1. Necessary Bedfellows: Scholarship and Practice
    Tensions often exist between those involved in practicing an art and those engaged in critical discussion of it. How and why do scholars, critics and practitioners need each other? How does critical discussion enhance the world of the arts, both its appreciation and its practice? What can scholars and practitioners learn from each other? How can individuals move back and forth between these worlds of engagement, or combine them? How can theory inform practice, and practice inform theory?
  1. Crossing Boundaries
    This session deals with the increasing expansion and mixing of materials and forms that fall under the rubric of puppetry. How has the idea of “puppetry” expanded in the last twenty years? What has been lost and what has been gained in this new model? What role does/can the human body play within this enlarging realm of materiality on stage? How do directors, choreographers, puppeteers, actors, and dancers make choices about what goes on stage and why? In what ways does the idea of “puppet” or other models serve as a guide to the puppet director-performer?
  1. Marginalized Players
    How have women, minorities, gay and queer individuals and other marginalized groups been a part of the art of puppetry and contributed to the art form? Does a marginalized art form, as puppetry has often been, attract and make a place for marginalized individuals or not? Have the issues of these communities expressed themselves through puppetry? When and how? Or has puppetry played another role? Does puppetry provide a place to hide or a place from which to come out? How does sociology interface with aesthetics and dramatic content? How might the history of puppetry be written to reflect its inclusion or exclusion of marginalized groups?
  1. Child’s Play
    In the United States and many other countries around the world puppetry has primarily been seen as an art form addressing children. But how does it address them? What possibilities exist for children’s puppetry that have yet to be mined? Does the identification as “children’s fare” necessarily limit or direct the types of shows that can be produced? What kinds of exchanges might exist or be created between children’s shows and those for more mature audiences, and how might cross-fertilizations between them work to enrich the art at both ends or bring them together?
  1. Predictability and Surprise
    Puppetry seems to have blossomed in recent years, expanding in a multitude of new directions that engage older puppetry traditions and invent new ones. But experimentation inevitably hardens into convention. How do the tensions between convention, technique, tradition, and predictability on the one hand, operate in relation to experimentation, innovation, aliveness, and surprise on the other? When and how does convention inform the artist? When does it cease to serve? How can practitioners balance between these poles?


  • Should be sent to, with the subject heading “Critical Exchange Proposal”
  • Should include:
    • Name, affiliation, and contact information
    • The name of the topic above that you would like to address.
    • In an attachment
      • a one-paragraph paper abstract or description of your presentation or artwork, including the topic you would address, or
      • for those proposing to be discussants, a brief outline of your relationship to the topic, why you are well placed to discuss the issue, and the types of views you hope to explore during the session.

Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2014

Other Paper Topics:

We also welcome for consideration proposals from scholars and critical thinkers working in the field of puppetry who may wish to give a short paper or presentation on other topics:

  • As above, please send your proposal to, with the subject heading “Critical Exchange Proposal”
  • Include
    • Name, affiliation, and contact information
    • Title of your paper or presentation
    • In an attachment, include the title and a one-paragraph abstract of your paper or topic

Deadline for proposals: November 1, 2014

Download a PDF of the call for proposals



Co-sponsored by UNIMA-USA