Main Festival Performances

Founded in 1937, Puppeteers of America (PofA) strives to encourage and promote the art of puppetry to both puppeteers and the community at large through publications, workshops, festivals, lectures, advisory services, and funding. PofA provides resources for professional growth to puppeteers, access to world class puppetry performances to the public and learning opportunities to those interested in this unique art form.

Puppetry is one of the world's oldest art forms and has a way of connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Our festival has worked to present an impressive display of puppetry from across the nation and beyond, making it a premier event for anyone interested in learning more about our ancient art form.

Learn more about PofA Festivals Here

In the summer of 2022, the Artistic Committee lead by Artistic Chair Yolanda Sampson, reviewed and selected the performances from over 75 applications resulting in the festival program below. We hope you enjoy this sampling of high quality and exciting moments which highlight the variety of puppet forms and diverse voices currently working in American puppetry arts and beyond.

Meet the Artistic Committee

Organizing and producing Puppetry Festivals is a major part of the mission of Puppeteers of America

Tuesday, July 18th, 8:00pm "Opening Performance"

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"Aanika's Elephants" - Annie Evans

Aanika’s Elephants is the story of a young African girl who meets a baby elephant (Little) at the orphanage where her father works. They grow together the way only two young girls can, even if one has a trunk. When Aanika’s father dies, she becomes the ward of an abusive uncle. She flees into the African Savannah making one final farewell to Little. Camping that night in the bush the way her father taught her, she is frightened by crashing branches and discovers Little has followed her. They become a herd of two, working together to survive and steer clear of humanity. Adopted by a small herd of elephants, Aanika learns their very beautiful, civil ways. She is finally tested when she must save her new family from poachers.

In a time when children are feeling so much division and stress, Aanika’s Elephants is play about compassion, love and conservation. It’s a story that shows how family can be anything — a beloved, widowed father or even a herd of elephants. The audience can use their imaginations to fill in the large rattan-framed elephants, adorable baby elephant and people represented by just hats and gloves. With music, a variety of puppets and humor, Aanika’s Elephants entertains and educates both adults and children on the plight of the elephant and our world.

View a Teaser Clip

About The Company

Annie Evans: (writer/producer) Has written children’s television for the past twenty-five years, most notably for Sesame Street (13 Emmy Awards) as well as for shows on Nickelodeon, PBS, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel and Animal Planet. She has taught writing for children around the world and story edited for Sesame Street co-productions in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia. She is also a playwright having had plays produced at such theatres as New York Stage and Film Company, Manhattan Class Company and the Circle Repertory Lab. She is a graduate of Brown University.

Pam Arciero: (director) Pam Arciero performs for film, television and theater, notably as a puppeteer with Sesame Street (Grundgetta Grouch, Oscar's girlfriend, and assorted characters) and with the Muppets for over 35 years. Pam is a director of live theater, television, and film. She choreographs and directs live walkaround (the big versions of the puppets) shows for Sesame Workshop in such far-flung places as Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, Barcelona, and Saudi Arabia, as well as Sesame Place and Sea World, USA. She is the Artistic Director of the National Puppetry Conference at the O'Neill Theater Center. Pam holds a master’s degree in Puppetry Arts from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor's Degree in Dance and Dramatic Arts from the University of Hawaii.

Martin P. Robinson: (puppet designer/builder) Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (designer/performer); The Frogs (designer). Off Broadway: Little Shop of Horrors (Drama Desk, L.A. Drama Critics, Villager Awards); Go, Diego Go! National Tour (puppet designer); Film: Muppets Take Manhattan, Follow That Bird, Elmo in Grouchland, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Producers.  TV: Sesame Street– 41 years playing Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey, etc. Currently playing Mr. Primm on the new Sesame Street/Apple TV show “Helpsters.”

Wednesday, June 19th, 1:00pm & 4:00pm

Kogod Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"How to Snag a Sea Monster" - What If Puppets

When a seaweed-covered creature washes ashore in the Cape Cod village of Barnacle Bay, the inhabitants fear the worst. Is it a sea monster in their midst? No, it's a baby as big as a house! The villagers adopt the giant baby, whom they name Stormalong…or Stormy for short. Growing over 24 feet tall, Stormy struggles to fit in and chooses a life aboard a merchant ship to find his place in the world. Meanwhile, a REAL sea monster torments the villagers and only Stormy is big enough to save them all! Based on the American tall tales of Stormalong, the creation of this show was supported by a 2022 Family Grant from the Jim Henson Foundation.

About What If Puppets (formally Mesner Puppet Theatre)

What If Puppets (formally Mesner Puppet Theatre) has been inspiring play and cultivating connections through puppetry since the company's founding in Kansas City, MO in 1987. The company tours nationally and internationally, engages classrooms with arts integration programming to support social-emotional development, and builds custom puppets for theatrical and video clients. Mesner Puppet Theater has received three UNIMA-USA Citations and multiple grants from The Jim Henson Foundation to support the creation of new works for families. Mike Horner joined the team in 2006 and currently serves as Director of Puppetry Arts. Mike is the company’s lead puppeteer and puppet designer, and his puppet creations have appeared on stages and in video productions all across the country. Facebook & Instagram: @whatifpuppets

Wednesday, July 19th, 1:00pm & 4:00pm

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"The Charm City Puppet Cabaret" (Regional Showcase)

The Charm City Puppet Cabaret is a celebration of Baltimore's innovative puppetry scene featuring some of the city's most beloved artists. In this cabaret-style evening, a select group of puppeteers will be given a chance to share work that is longer than a slam but shorter than a full-length show, giving you the variety of short-form puppetry but with a deeper theatrical exploration. Featuring live music interspersed between every act, this lively evening will include works by Schroeder Cherry, Dirk Joseph, and the Jane Appleseed of crankies Katherine Fahey, among others. This showcase is supported by the generosity of The National Capitol Puppetry Guild.

Featured Shows:

"Between Monument and Montford"Katherine Fahey and the Lantern Sisters

A shadow puppetry Crankie of Robin Reid's childhood memories of black horse cart vendors in Baltimore city and the effect they had on her neighborhood.

About Katherine Fahey 

Award winning multidisciplinary puppeteer, Katherine Fahey has toured and taught throughout the United States. She combines various crafts, combining indicate paper-cutting, ethereal shadow puppetry, crankies, and engaging storytelling. Her pieces are either based on stories or songs. They are usually shared as live table top performance, but sometimes as music videos or featured as segments in longer films. Some stories are folk tales as far reaching as the southern swamps of Louisiana and the northern reaches of Inuit Quebec, but can also be true stories from her childhood in Virginia and the streets of Baltimore. Katherine’s shadow puppetry is presented in the form of a tabletop performance. Facebook: @lanternsisters & Instagram: @katherine_fahey

"The Civil Rights Children's Crusade" Schroeder Cherry

A young boy discovers that his strict grandfather went to jail as a child. What was that about? This story about children in the Civil Rights Movement is narrated by a rod puppet who uses wooden cutouts to tell what he learns. The puppeteer is in full view, dressed in black.

About Schroeder Cherry

A native of Washington, D.C., Schroeder Cherry is a Baltimore based artist and puppeteer. He played with puppets as a kid. In college he tried puppetry to see how he would respond to his childhood interest. He apprenticed to a puppetmaster in Chicago while in college, then joined a troupe before setting out on his own. Dr. Cherry has performed original shows with puppets in museums, libraries and cultural centers for adults and children across the U.S. Performances include "Can You Spell Harlem?," The Land of Primary Color;" “Underground Railroad, Not A Subway;" “Tuskegee Airmen;” “ How The Sun Came To The Sky,” and The Civil Rights Children’s Crusade.” Facebook: @schroeder.cherry

"Collab Story" Dirk Joseph & Azaria Jean-Gilles Joseph of Dirk and Azaria

In Collab Story, two siblings feeling stuck at home without use of their devices must find other ways to entertain themselves. The result is a surreal trip into the world of their imagination.

About Dirk and Azaria

Baltimore based artists Dirk Joseph and his daughters Koi and Azaria have been performing puppetry together since 2016.

Also known as String Theory Theater, they use various puppetry formats to create shows for children and adults. First honing their skills at the seasonal Puppet Slamwich at Baltimore’s Black Cherry Puppet Theater, Dirk, Koi, and Azaria have performed on numerous stages across Baltimore and beyond.

They also create large-scale outdoor puppet performances, sometimes partnering with other puppeteers and community organizations to engage local communities in creative demonstrations and exhibits. Instagram: @stringtheorytheater

Wednesday, July 19th, 1:00pm a Community Days Performance

Atrium - Stamp Student Union

CANCELLED "Ladyfingers, Jr." - Pam Severns

Pam Severns is an LA-based comedian and puppeteer praised by the LA Times as being “renowned for her unorthodox take on classic puppetry.”

A Jim Henson Foundation grant recipient, she has performed on the stages of the Jim Henson Company, Coachella, and SF Sketchfest. Pam has also worked on TV projects with IFC, PBS, MTV and more.

Her award-winning film Bunny Love is available on Amazon Prime. You can find her on social media as @thepamsevern

Program Language: English   Availability: Public - All Ages   Programs: Youth Ticket & Community Days

"Salmagundi! The Puppet Variety Show" - Gavin Cummins

A collection of short puppet shows by Gavin Cummins.


Gavin Cummins is a puppeteer and artistic director of Thistle Theatre located in Seattle. Gavin began his puppetry career as a performer at Thistle Theatre with founder Jean Enticknap. Gavin co-founded the Fussy Cloud Puppet Slam and collaborated with Red Legg Dance Company, Book-It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Seattle Solstice Parade and others. He received an MFA in Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut. Responding to the pandemic he helped develop the Drive-In Puppet Show. Gavin has taught and lectured at BIMP, Northern Arizona University, University of Connecticut, Phoenix Art Museum and the National Puppetry Festival. He was an Emerging Artist at the National Puppetry Conference and selected 3 times to the National Puppet Slam.

Program Language: English   Availability: Public - All Ages   Programs: Youth Ticket & Community Days

Wednesday, July 19th, 7:00 pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Following the Welcome Ceremony

A video interview exclusively for Puppeteers of America

"Puppeteer to Puppeteer...with Sid Krofft"

On Thursday, July 20th, we will focus on the "Path Makers" aspect of our theme of Generations. Join us as we have the special honor to sit down with the inimitable Sid Krofft and discuss his long career in puppetry. Sid will be beaming in via the internet to join us for an extensive chat, a stroll down memory lane, and a Q&A.

Wednesday, July 19th, 9:00 pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

Click here to purchase tickets for individual events at The Clarice

"MAROONED! A Space Comedy" - Alex and Olmsted

Internationally acclaimed and 2-time Jim Henson Foundation grant award winning puppet theater company Alex and Olmsted journey to outer space with the creation of their innovative new puppet show, “MAROONED! A Space Comedy.” Lauded as “Achingly beautiful…” (MD Theatre Guide) and “...amusing, charming, delightful and, at times, utterly and completely astonishing” (DC Theater Scene), “MAROONED!” follows the adventures of a lone astronaut who crashes unexpectedly on an uncharted planet. Featuring music from the Voyager Golden Record, this handmade spectacle involves puppetry, illusion, innovative mechanical objects, and virtuosic physical expression. Will the astronaut survive strange creatures, anomalous atmosphere, and isolation in order to find her way home? See for yourself… in “MAROONED!”

About Alex and Olmsted

Alex and Olmsted (Alex Vernon and Sarah Olmsted Thomas) is an internationally acclaimed puppet theater and film production company based in Maryland, USA. In recent years, A&O has played festivals in South Korea, Canada, and Denmark in addition to theaters and museums across the states. A&O was awarded 2 Jim Henson Foundation grants and the 2020 MSAC Independent Artist Award, the highest honor for performing artists in the State of Maryland and an award that is only given once in the lifetime of an artist or group.

Alex and Olmsted’s short puppet film “Marianne’s Onion,” produced by Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams, was an official selection of the Maryland Film Festival, the Washington West Film Festival, and the Paris Art Film Festival, among others.

Alex and Olmsted is a resident company at Baltimore Theatre Project. Vernon and Thomas are also proud company members of Happenstance Theater with whom they have created 10 productions since 2012. Facebook & Instagram: @alexandolmsted

Wednesday, July 19th, 10:30pm

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"National Puppet Slam"

Since its inception at the 2011 National Puppetry Festival, the National Puppet Slam has continued its mission to showcase excellence and variety in short form adult puppet theatre. Thank you to those who have supported the show, including the Puppet Slam Network, Puppeteers of America, Casteliers, Dragon Con, Center for Puppetry Arts, and Heather Henson. PUPPET SHOW!*

*By attending the National Puppet Slam you release Puppeteers of America and Beau Brown

from any and all candy related injuries sustained during the performance.

Thursday, July 20th, 1:00pm & 4:00pm

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"Lupita’s Revenge"Lupita's Revenge

Shadow puppetry and live music weave a light-hearted, intimate, and mysterious evening of visual storytelling in Lupita’s Revenge, a crankie puppet play that has been touring museums and small theaters around the country.

    Lupitas Revenge is performed by an alliance of eight musicians and visual artists based out of Athens, Georgia: A five-piece band playing a mesmerizing soundtrack of Latin American classics; while three shadow puppeteers tell Lupitas story of fury and rage following her fathers assault at a wrestling match in Mexico City in 1924. The 50-minute vengeance play follows Lupita on her intense journey as she confronts her father's assailant 20 years later in Valdosta, Georgia. Don’t miss Lupita’s Revenge, complete with romance, wrestlers, intense chases, enchanting music, and one mild decapitation.   

Produced and Directed by Abel Klainbaum; Lead Visual Artist: Phil Jasen; Illustrators: Anthony Gaskins and Alberto Kino. Puppeteers: Abel Klainbaum, Phil Jasen, and Laura María Ramírez Giraldo;   Music by Tango Hambre: Violin: Keiko Ishibashi; Lead Vocals: Megan Cole;  Guitar: Brian Smith; Bass: Chris Enghauser; Accordion: Philip Kohnen.

Ages: Adults and Adolescents. Language: Music in English and Spanish.

Thursday, July 20th, 1:00pm & 4:00pm

Kogod Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"Quijote"Ombres Folles (Montreal)

In a world - made of paper - that is both ruthless and fragile, Quijote and Sancho are looking for adventure. Stepping in are the vivid and larger-than-life imagination of the frail knight as well as shadow theatre! But the beliefs of Quijote are too powerful. Wherever he turns everyone thinks he is crazy and people make fun of him. Led by a clown duo of actor/puppeteers, the production recounts the unbelievable adventures of Don Quijote and his friendly squire Sancho Panza. Imagination, humor, friendship and the search for glory await in a world of extravagant shadows.

About Ombres Folles

Founded in 2005, the company Ombres Folles has created 8 shows and given nearly 450 performances in Canada, France, Serbia and Ukraine. The company now enjoys recognition in youth theater and puppet circles. Ombres Folles defends a world carried by the imagination by creating shows that awaken the whimsical spirit of young and old. Committed to the development of contemporary puppetry and theater for young audiences, the company explores the intersections of genre between puppet, shadow and object theatre, while probing our fears, our quirks and our taboos.

Thursday, July 20th, 1:00 pm a Community Day Performance 

Colony Ballroom - Stamp Student Union

"Fox Fables" - Chad Williams of WonderSpark Puppets

What makes you - YOU? Fox Fables is a combination of several Aesop's Fables, inspired by the works of the 12th century storyteller Rabbi Berechiah ha-Nakdan. The story is about a fox who loses his precious tail and with it his identity. He tries to be several other animals instead - with hilarious results - before realizing the moral lesson of this ancient fable. Themes in this tale include self-worth, anti-bullying, test taking, and the five senses.

About WonderSpark Puppets

WonderSpark Puppets is a New York City based puppet theater company led by Chad Williams and Z Briggs. The company's mission is to spread joy, spark imagination and share laughter through high quality puppet performances. They have toured internationally, bringing original productions and puppetry workshops to festivals in Thailand and Taiwan. Their original solo puppet shows were official selections at the International Puppet Fringe Festival NYC, La MaMa Etc Puppet Festival, the Siam Paragon Asean Fascinating Puppets Festival in Thailand, and at the 1st Lize International Puppet Festival in Taiwan. Their works have been performed at the 14th Street Y Theater, Puppet Showplace Theater, Symphony Space, and at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Facebook & Instagram: @wondersparkpuppets

Chad Williams (writer, director, performer) is Co-Artistic Director of WonderSpark Puppets and has toured and taught puppetry internationally. He has written, directed and performed over 15 solo puppet plays for family audiences with hundreds of performances every year.

In 2022, he released "50 Hand Puppet Techniques: Hidden Secrets and Tricks Revealed", a manual for traditional hand puppetry. He has trained new puppeteers, teachers, actors, special needs therapists and others using his unique Two-Finger Style.

He is a two-term board member of UNIMA-USA and a current Fulbright Specialist

Thursday, July 20th, 4:00 pm a Community Day Performance 

Colony Ballroom - Stamp Student Union

"Give Me a Hand" - Laurencio Ruiz

Give Me a Hand is an unforgettable duo of puppets with aa-nhu-maa-tuh-pee-uh, (onomatopoeia) names, Brrrt and Thrrr in which audience members have the opportunity to interact and explore the other side of puppetry. This bilingual interactive performance invites people from the audience to be part of two or three puppet's sketches, as a puppeteer. That is, we ask audience members to come up on stage and ‘give’ his/her right hand or left and becomes the puppet's hand. Together we complete different tasks, such as magic tricks drawing, cutting, blowing and twisting.

Laurencio Ruiz is a Lecturer of scenic design and puppetry at the Penn State School of Theatre. He holds an M.F.A. in Scenic Design from Penn State School of Theatre, and a B.A. in Graphic Design from Universidad Autónoma de Mexico, where he also studied visual arts. His experience as a trans-disciplinary designer and artist includes sets, costumes, puppets, masks, and props for cabaret, theater, television and film in Mexico and the U.S. Since his involvement with puppetry, he has been creating, directing, and performing original puppet shows at the Eugene O’Neil Theatre Center as an Emergent Artist, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Philly Fringe Festival among other venues. He also received the Excellence and Variety Award in the field of short form adult puppet theatre by the National Puppet Slam Network, presented at the National Puppetry Festival in UConn, 2015; the KCACTF Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Scenic and Costume design for ‘Picnic’ in 2012, and for ‘Medea’ in 2006; the PSU College of Arts and Architecture Creative Achievement in Theatre Award in 2001.

Program Language: Spanish/English     Availability: Public - All Ages    Programs: Youth Ticket & Community Days

30 minutes running time

Thursday, July 20th, 7:00pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"UNIMA-USA Awards Ceremony"

Join us at the exciting conclusion to UNIMA-USA day at the National Puppetry Festival.

Thursday, July 20th, 9:00 pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"5P1N0K10 (SPINOKIO)"Tarish ‘Jeghetto’ Pipkins

This Hip Hopera created by Jeghetto and co-written by Pierce Freelon was awarded grants from the Henson Foundation two years in a row. This Afrofuturistic puppet show is set in a post apocalyptic future with an original score by Hip Hop producer Hir-O.

This show is suitable for audiences 10 and up, and is a full theater production.

About Tarish ‘Jeghetto’ Pipkins

Jeghetto is puppetry infused with Hip Hop culture. He has been building his puppets out of recycled and found materials for about 20 years now. He’s worked with Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, Alec Baldwin and others in the industry. Jeghetto has received 2 grants from the Henson Foundation for his Hip Hopera titled 5P1N0K10 (Spinokio) the Android who wants to be a real B-Boy. He also received a grant from Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams to produce a short film of the same title that will be released on Amazon Prime.

Before the pandemic, Jeghetto traveled the country performing his unique style of puppet theater in venues and festivals. He also facilitated puppet workshops for all ages which he now does online. You can learn all about him at Facebook: @jeghettosentertainment Instagram: @jeghettos_puppets

Friday, July 21st, 1:00 pm & 4:00 pm

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"The Three Little Pigs"Art Grueneberger of Puppet Art Theater Co.

Live rod and hand puppetry combined with projected sets and animations bring this irreverent telling of this classic tale. Three pigs strike out on their own looking to have fun and adventures. But first, they must build houses for themselves. Straw, sticks, bricks, and a huffing and puffing Big Bad Wolf add up to hilarity and mayhem in this adaptation of the classic story, “The Three Little Pigs.”

About Puppet Art Theater Co.

Art became fascinated by puppetry in the early 90’s while pursuing a degree in teaching. A puppetry course his last year of college took him off the teaching path and onto a successful career as a puppeteer. An early opportunity to study with Jim Henson’s Muppet Performers and hundreds of performances for a touring company helped hone his skills as a performer. An invitation to be one of the first participants in the Emerging Artist Program at the National Puppetry Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center helped develop Grueneberger’s writing and production skills.  These skills combined with a bit of luck lead to the formation of Grueneberger’s Puppet Art Theater Co. in 1995. Today Puppet Art Theater Co. has eighteen productions that tour across California and beyond completing more than 600 live performances for family audiences every year. Grueneberger has become a master at developing marvelous puppet shows that delight audiences of all ages. Facebook: @PuppetArtTheaterCo Instagram: @puppetartg

Friday, July 21st, 1:00 pm & 4:00 pm

Kogod Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"MIGRACIONES / MIGRATIONS" Sofía Padilla and Davey T. Steinman of Paradox Teatro

MIGRACIONES / MIGRATIONS, by Paradox Teatro, is a poignant meditation on the global migration situation, which draws on the artists’ own surreal experiences in the U.S. immigration system while inspiring compassionate perspectives from the global refugee crisis. 

This original work highlights Paradox Teatro’s mesmerizing blend of hybrid puppets, sand drawings, and multimedia shadow puppetry projections to reveal each character’s journey across sand, water, and darkness in search of a new home. These visual mediums are scored by original live music and sparse poetry in English and Spanish so that MIGRACIONES / MIGRATIONS can push the boundaries of non-verbal storytelling, and further Paradox Teatro’s mission to communicate with audiences across cultures and language barriers. 

This production premiered at Open Eye Theater in Minneapolis, USA with the support of a 2019 Jim Henson Foundation Production Grant. Since then, it has been presented internationally with support from el Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes and el Fondo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes in México.

About Paradox Teatro

Paradox Teatro is a multimedia puppetry arts company founded in 2017 by Artistic Co-Directors Sofía Padilla of Mexico & Davey T Steinman of the United States. The company has toured performances and taught residencies in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. The mission of Paradox Teatro is to use performing arts to connect communities across language barriers and cultures. Facebook: @ParadoxTeatro Instagram: @Paradox_Teatro

Friday, July 20th, 1:00 pm a Community Day Performance 

Colony Ballroom - Stamp Student Union

"Santa Got Fired" - Jim "Nappy" Napolitano

Before Santa got the job we are all familiar with, he had many other jobs. In this performance we will learn about all the jobs and troubles Santa encountered in his youth. Presented in five parts, “Santa Got Fired” teaches us how to learn from our mistakes and that you can have your milk ’n’ cookies and eat them too


Jim Napolitano is a native of Milford, Connecticut, and a graduate of the University of Connecticut's Puppet Arts Program. After completion of his degree, Jim worked with Bits and Pieces Puppet Theater. He performed around the country and around the world, including The National Culture Center in Japan and The National Theater in Taiwan.

Jim has worked as a freelance artist and performer. Jim’s work can be seen on the PBS show, Between The Lions. Other television credits include The Book Of Pooh,The Weinerville Chanukah Special,A Show of Hands and Stick Stickly . Jim has also performed voice over work for “Kirby:right at you”, “Shaman King”, “Pokemon”, “One Piece”, Between the Lions and other prodjects.

For over 30 years jim has performed Live Shadow Theater for family audiences as Nappy's Puppets.Nappy's Puppets is dedicated to presenting quality puppet theater to audiences of all ages. The goal of each performances is to entertain, inspire and educate the audience on the range and scope of puppetry as an art form.

                                       Program Language: English   Availability: Public - 10 and up  Programs: Youth Ticket & Community Days

Friday, July 21st, 9:00pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"Behind the Scenes with Terry Fator "

The most successful performer to emerge from the America’s Got Talent franchise and Las Vegas legend Terry Fator will share a special program exclusively for the Puppeteers of America National Festival. Part performance, part discussion, and part Q&A, Terry will perform several pieces showcasing his amazing vocal abilities and share stories of his experiences in the national spotlight. Terry is eager to join puppetry colleagues on the campus which has been so important to the history of American puppetry, and he hopes to help inspire the next generation of puppeteers.

Terry Fator’s long journey from the plains of Corsicana, Texas to the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip was not without its challenges. Certainly, he had some help along the way, thanks to the millions of fans who named him winner of the hit NBC series, America’s Got Talent. After two decades on the road performing at countless kids’ birthday parties, county fairs and oddball venues, Terry thought his lifelong dream of appearing on the Vegas stage might never come true. When he finally got the chance to audition for AGT in that show’s second season, Terry was determined to take advantage, and brought all his talents to bear in taking home the $1 million first prize and the title of “Best New Act in America.”
 “It was the big break I had worked for my entire life,” Terry recalls. Shortly thereafter he began performing to sellout crowds at the Las Vegas Hilton, and by the following year he signed what has been described as “one of the largest entertainment deals in Las Vegas history,” the chance to headline his own show. Terry Fator: The VOICE of Entertainment, at The Mirage Hotel & Casino, ran for a record-breaking 11 years, earning Terry raves and numerous local awards including Las Vegas’s Best Show, Best Impressionist, Best All-Around Performer, Best Family Show and Best Overall Show.

Terry is among the world’s most gifted and accomplished ventriloquists, but his talents go far beyond that unique skill. He is a first-rate comedian as well as a world-class singer and mimic, able to perform in more than 200 unique celebrity voices. In March of 2021 Terry launched his latest show, Terry Fator: Who’s the Dummy Now? at New York-New York Hotel & Casino. The new show was voted Best Casino Show by USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice in 2021. Terry’s talents have been showcased in several other media as well. He has appeared on dozens of television shows, including the iconic Showtime at the Apollo (where he received a standing ovation). He produced and starred in three bestselling DVDs. And he wrote a frank and candid autobiography, Who’s the Dummy Now, that chronicles the early struggles that helped form the foundation for his later successes. While Las Vegas has become home for Terry and his wife, Angie, the couple spends a great deal of time on the road as well. His touring life has taken him to nearly every state in America over the past decade.

In addition to Terry’s creative endeavors, he contributes considerable time and resources to his charitable endeavors through the Terry Fator Foundation. While he has supported many causes over the years, his most passionate advocacy is reserved for America’s veterans. “Veterans hold a special place in my heart,” Terry notes. “I want to honor their service and sacrifice as often as I can." At his core, though, Terry is a performer. “I just always want to entertain. That's it. I never had fans before and now that I do I just want to keep them smiling and laughing,” he notes. “I didn’t see success until I was in my 40s, and I’m determined to make up for all that lost time.”

Saturday, July 22nd, 1:00pm & 4:00pm a Community Day Performance

Hoff Theatre - Stamp Student Union

"Oma" - Sandglass Theater

Oma says that knitting is not just pom pom hats and sweaters. Oma's knitting contains whole stories! This new family show by Shoshana Bass and Jana Zeller is an intergenerational tale that revolves around Grandma or “Oma." It is her birthday and all are preparing for the celebration. While the grown-ups manage work phone calls, playdate logistics and other such tasks, the children get into mischief with party decorating, present wrapping, cake baking. Finally they all gather around for one of Oma's stories told in yarn. One character emerges from the tangle of wool and nearly ruins the party. But not to worry, all ends well at Oma's house.

About Sandglass Theater

Sandglass Theater is a renowned theater company specializing in combining puppets with music, actors, and visual imagery. Since 1982, the company’s productions have toured internationally in over 30 countries, performing in theaters, festivals and cultural institutions and winning numerous international prizes. Sandglass is dedicated to the arts of theater and puppetry as a means of exploring contemporary issues, inspiring dialogue, and sparking wonder. We create original ensemble performances and collaborations, present diverse theater artists, produce events that serve our communities, and teach our art.

This project is partially funded by grants from The Jim Henson Foundation

and the Puppeteers of America Rose Endowment Fund, and the SBA Shuttered Venues Operators Grant.

Saturday, July 22nd, 1:00pm & 4:00pm

Kogod Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"RENT PARTY" - Drama of Works

In the early 1900s African-Americans began to migrate north in large numbers. Harlem was where their community was, so many moved there, despite the high rents. Rent parties became a popular way for families to raise the rent money they needed. They would hire a musician or band, get cheap refreshments and charge a small entry fee.  

An innovative toy theater fills the stage, a replica of a Harlem block from the 1920s. Lights flicker on as people awake. We see toy theater puppets, shadows come to life in windows, and at a certain point the whole set transforms. All the while actors frolic in 20s costumes, original saxophone music plays through the speakers and a cat does back alley poetry. We’re transported in time to an era poignant and pivotal to the African-American experience in this country and people of all ages should know these stories, hear these words and listen to this music. Come follow Rose, Jenny and Ricky as they help their mammas throw a RENT PARTY to save their home. All they need to do is get the ice, hand out some cards, oh - and get a real live musician to play. Shouldn't be too hard…

About Drama of Works

Drama of Works (DOW)’s mission is to be a performing arts organization that furthers the art of theater incorporating puppets. Their main purpose is to promote, support and create unique, premiere theater experiences that push the boundaries of theatrical norms and conventions. To that end, DOW offers a wide variety of public performances, both classic and original works, throughout New York City and representing NYC elsewhere, for all ages. DOW aspires to be the leading theater company of cutting-edge stage performance in Brooklyn, New York. In the coming years expect expanded programming from DOW, including partnerships with national and international artists, producing of puppet slams, and more classes for the Brooklyn community.

DOW is known for their innovative works that cross the line between actors and puppeteers. Led by Artistic Director Gretchen Van Lente (former president of UNIMA-USA), they have performed locally and abroad: around New York City, the East Coast and at seven international festivals to date, with their unique brand of theatre: gaining members, fans and supporters along the way. Drama of Works prides themselves on including members from a variety of backgrounds, including puppetry, experimental theatre, clowning, classical theatre, folk dance and comedy. They are the recipients of seven Henson Foundation grants, two grants from the Rhode Island Foundation, a grant from the Fund for US Artists at International Festivals, a Chashama/NEA Performance Development Award and an Ensemble Studio Theatre/Sloan Project Commission, among others. Facebook & Instagram: @dramaofworks

Saturday, July 22nd  1:00 pm a Community Day Performance

Nyumburu Amphitheater (Outside Stamp Student Union)

"A Slice of Crazy Pie" - Madison J. Cripps

A Slice of Crazy Pie is a unique performance full of interactive song
and pun. Cripps weaves harmonica, vocals and hand carved wooden
marionettes into a sauntering jaunt through the back reaches of his
brain. Fairly endearing, often boisterously emotive, always entertaining.

Madison J. Cripps became a professional puppeteer in 2006 while working on a small farm in the Berkshire Mtns. Supporting his puppetry is a diverse history of fine art, construction, environmentalism and theatre. In 2008, Madison was awarded a grant from the Mass. Cultural Council for the Cripps Walking Theatre Project. He moved to Asheville, NC from 2009 to 2015 and was an active member of the performing arts community. During that time Cripps was awarded an UNIMA citation of excellence in puppetry for his work on Billy the Liar in 2014. Now back in New England, Cripps brings the experiences and influences of his travels where he performs.

Program Language: English   Availability: Public - All Ages   Programs: Youth Ticket & Community Days

Saturday, July 22nd, 7:00pm

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"Puppeteers of America Awards and Closing Ceremony"

We gather one last time at the festival to announce the winners of the The President’s Award, The Puppeteers of America Award, The Jim Henson Award, The George Latshaw Award, and The Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin Award. We will also celebrate the new PofA endowment grant recipients before closing remarks from the Festival Director.

Following the Puppeteers of America Awards Ceremony

A panel interview looking at the next generation.

"What's Next? A Panel For The Future In Puppetry"

On Saturday, July 22nd, we will focus on the "Future" aspect of our theme of Generations. Join us as we have a discussion with Andrew A. Cano, Rachel Burson, and Matthew Lish as we learn about how they got started, what they are up to now, and what might the future look like as puppeteers.

Featured Puppeteers

Andrew A Cano was born and raised in L.A. where he attended the Los Angeles High School for the Arts. He has since starred in theatre and musical theatre productions all across Southern California including A Chorus Line, Shrek The Musical, and West Side Story among others. He has worked in entertainment for over 10 years with the Walt Disney Company, performing in various shows, parades, special events, and even on the Disney Cruise Line. Most recently his work can be seen with the Jim Henson Company on Apple TV+ (Slumberkins) and with Puppet Up! - Uncensored. He looks forward to sharing more projects as they become public.

Rachel Burson is a puppet builder, puppet wrangler and puppeteer based in Los Angeles, CA. Rachel has been pursuing puppetry since 2015. She has worked on projects for various puppet companies like The Jim Henson Creature Shop, Swazzle Inc., Nickelodeon, Noggin and The Muppets Studio. She also owns her own personal business, rachelmadestudio. Rachel has built and wrangled on projects such as: Muppets Mayhem, Waffles + Mochi, Slumberkins, Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time, Crank Yankers, The Barbarian and The Troll, The B Street Theatre’s production of Winnie the Pooh, Womp & Co, Little Big Awesome, My Friend T, and the NBA 2023 Christmas commercial and more.

You can check out Rachel's work on her website and on her Instagram: rachelmadestudio.

Matthew Lish is a NYC-based puppet and prop fabricator, designer, and storyteller. Select credits include various projects at Jim Henson's Creature Shop (Daytime Emmy Award Contributor for Sesame Street, Thea Award for Sesame Street: Street Mission at PortAventura World in Spain), Rockefeller Productions and Disney Theatrical's Disney's Winnie the Pooh: The New Musical Stage Adaptation (Drama Desk Nominee for Outstanding Puppet Design, Lead Puppet & Prop Builder), and various Broadway and off-Broadway shows. Matthew is a former Walt Disney Imagineer, former circus clown, is on the Global Themed Entertainment team at Sesame Workshop, and works seasonally with Macy's Branded Entertainment behind the scenes on events like Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.


Saturday, July 22nd, 9:00pm "Closing Show"

Kay Theatre - Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

"PACKRAT" - Concrete Temple Theatre

Set deep in the Sagebrush Desert, PACKRAT is a visually stunning puppet play that contemplates humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Puppetry, projections and an original score elegantly come together to shape what The New Times called, “a journey of rescue and redemption…Thoroughly mesmerizing … amazingly expressive.” Inspired by the classic adventure novel, “Watership Down,” PACKRAT follows one peculiar rodent, Bud, who  has a penchant for hoarding humankind’s goods. 

When a discarded cigar sparks a wildfire, the animals in Bud’s valley flee for their lives. Already an outcast among the desert animals for his hoarding instincts, he gets blamed for the human-made disasters infiltrating their lives. When they ban him from the community, Bud must set out alone amidst a raging fire, to confront human-made dangers and a few natural ones. PACKRAT is a poignant account of Bud’s journey to find his place in the world, and his ultimate realization that the interconnectedness of life rules the day.

About Concrete Temple Theatre

CONCRETE TEMPLE THEATRE is a multi-disciplinary company, committed to the creation of compelling new theatrical works, incorporating drama, dance, puppetry, music and the visual arts. Since 2004, our company has created devised visual theatre that challenges the traditional relationship between design and text. Through touring original works and presenting workshops in NYC, nationally and internationally, we strive to bring myth and ritual back to the center of dialogue, by presenting works and workshops that address real issues within communities (grief, family relationships, environmental stewardship). As The Brooklyn Rail stated, “Ambitious production is the norm for Concrete Temple, a creative ensemble with a strong focus on ritual theatre, multi-disciplinary storytelling and the collective experience.” We have presented our work for NYC audiences at venues like Ohio Theatre, HERE, and Barrow Street Theatre and have been artist-in-residence in NYC at The Flea Theater, Dixon Place, Mabou Mines, St. Ann’s Warehouse. Concrete Temple has toured work nationally at venues like: The Yard, Bard Summerscape, Detroit Institute of Arts, Pontine Theatre, Dairy Center for the Arts, Amphibian Stage Productions and internationally: London, Sri Lanka, India, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy, Scotland, South Korea and Costa Rica. Facebook: @ConcreteTempleTheatre Instagram: @concretetemple

Puppeteers of America
310 East 38th St, Suite 127
Minneapolis, MN 55409