Puppetry is a three-legged stool, supported by writing, performance, and design. Strong ideas can be weakened by faulty design. We focus on the wrong things at the wrong times, and then we get frustrated at the wrong results.
This workshop is about analyzing your production, and all that includes, to building the puppets that showcase only the essential traits, and doing so all within your bandwidth. The goal is to do as much problem solving you can, before you build. It’s knowing when to explore, and when to define. Tempering expectations and embracing the accidents. With my experience in animation and puppetry, I want to pass along techniques I’ve found useful, and also point out some potholes that can be avoided, when designing for a client, or yourself.
My background is mostly with hand and rod puppetry, for clients like MTV, Enterprise, the Livermore Water Council, and others, and I’ve puppeteered on various productions such as MST3K and the Pee Wee Herman Show. When I’m not doing puppetry, I direct animated shows and storyboard for film and TV.
No experience required – however I encourage everyone to share their techniques and experiences, as there are many ways to develop a successful design. Please bring pen and paper and let’s create!
Erik Kuska is a writer/puppeteer/animation director from Los Angeles. Having drawn for the animation industry for 20 years, he has pitched and created animated shows, most notably Wabbit for Cartoon Network/Warner Brothers Animation and is currently storyboarding for an upcoming feature from Paramount studios. He has also performed Clocky (and Mr. Window), in the latest Pee Wee Herman shows and was a puppeteer on the last two seasons of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (on Netflix).
Erik enjoys writing/performing/drawing and has taken numerous courses from Groundlings, UCB, iO West, The Pack Theater and Second City, including workshops from writers of Saturday Night Live, the Whitest Kids U’ Know, Conan O’Brien and Kids in the Hall. He started his puppetry career in 2008 and was mentored by former Muppeteer, Michael Earl. He soon began putting up his own puppet sketch shows as well as teaching TV puppetry and his own writing workshops. Erik has performed in over 80 birthday/music puppet shows and slams around Los Angeles.
Member of Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry and Puppeteers of America. This will be his fifth National Puppetry Festival.