Aretta Baumgartner, Education Director at the Center for Puppetry Arts and a lifelong (P of A festival attendee), sent us her thoughts on the Southeast Regional Festival, AKA “Southeast Puppet Jamboree.” Enjoy!
ARETTA: “WOW! What a fabulous time we had at the Southeast Puppet Jamboree this past weekend at Unicoi State Park & Lodge in Helen, GA!
The festival featured ten performances (by the Columbia Marionette Theatre, Grey Seal Puppets, Hobey Ford’s Golden Rod Puppets, Lee Bryan/That Puppet Guy, Parasol Puppets, Piccadilly Puppets, Red Herring Puppets, Scott Land Marionettes, Tanglewood Puppets, and Toy Box Theater/Cripps Puppets); 12 workshops (on topics ranging from Consciousness & Creativity to Busking to Foam Book Puppets to Creative Puppet Play Development—full list on fest website: http://www.puppetjamboree.org/
Being a former/long-time Great Lakes Region member (and proud of it), I was missin’ that region’s wonderful autumnal 30-year tradition, a great informal puppetry retreat we lovingly called (call) the “Puppet Potlatch” (also at a state park; that one in Angola, Indiana). The setting allows for hikes in the woods, journaling by the lake, sketching under the stars—time to absorb and apply the inspiration received by the puppeteers and their work/play. The schedule allows for plenty of down time. In the Native American tradition of potlatch sharing, attendees volunteer their time to share talents, shows, workshops, wisdom and resources. Because all the programming is voluntarily contributed, the price tag for this Potlatch is always affordable—about $30 for the weekend’s activities (that’s registration; lodging and meals extra). This makes it accessible and laid-back and means an atmosphere of true community and support.
And that’s exactly how I’d describe the Southeast Puppet Jamboree—my itch was scratched! It was/is the perfect “foil” to a national festival. Makes me look forward to next summer’s National Puppetry Festival in CT even more because that will check boxes for a more programmed, structured, formal, jam-packed puppetry event. I am so lucky to have both types of puppetry events to share and celebrate this art/craft that I hold so dear.
Yea for the SE Puppet Jamboree. Yea for Madison J. Cripps and his new Swazzle, walks in the woods, Lyon Hill’s old man on the bench, puppet juice, confetti cannons and water guns, Conni’s emcee costumes, Johnson’s Downda Earth Café and Bakery, the Lands and the Allens traveling so far to join our puppet shenanigans, hanging out on the back porch, and the memories and moments too many to mention here.
As Mr. Punch might say, “that’s the way to do it”!