1980 World Puppetry Festival June 8 – 15, 1980
By Nancy Lohman Staub, July 2014
In 1980, the Puppeteers of America (PofA) hosted the XIIIth Quadrennial Congress of l’Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA), cosponsored by the American Center (UNIMA-USA) and Puppeteers of America (PofA). In lieu of their annual national puppetry festival, the members of PofA agreed to coordinate an international festival in conjunction with the Congress. I volunteered to organize it and proposed the site as Washington, DC. PofA granted a cash advance of $3000, but the direct costs of the event reached over 1 million with indirect expenditures an additional million for a total of 2 million. Over 1400 registrant from 48 nations attended the congress: performances, 121,300; exhibitions 1,730,992; conferences and workshops, 1150, Over 700,000 visited the exhibit, Puppets: Art & Entertainment in 10 additional venues across the country bringing the total attendance to nearly 3 million. The WQED one-hour documentary, Here Come the Puppets, aired on PBS and around the world to an estimated 10 million viewers. How did we do it without a huge deficit? Serendipity.
As President of UNIMA-USA, Jim Henson called a meeting in 1975 at the Detroit Institute of Arts of anyone interested in puppetry with the provision they leave their puppets at home. Audley Grossman and Mickey Minors hosted it. I represented PofA at the meeting. I became a board member when Rufus Rose sadly passed away. I was next in line having been nominated after directing the 1974 annual PofA festival in New Orleans. We made a profit thanks to the public appearances of Carroll Spinney as emcee with the Henson character, Oscar the Grouch. The group deemed the primary way to raise appreciation for puppetry in America would be to present the best puppet productions for adults.
Jim suggested we host the next congress of UNIMA. With no plans or funding other than Jim’s promise of financial backing, UNIMA-USA authorized its council members, UNIMA-USA Secretary, Mollie Falkenstein, Mike Oznowicz, and Bil Baird, to make the invitation. Unbelievably, the 1976 Congress in Moscow accepted based on their reputations.
The popularity of Sesame Street and the Muppets opened the doors. Jim’s vision and financial backing, fully supported by Jane, his partner and wife, made the event possible.
After returning from the 1976 Moscow Congress, I took a course in grantsmanship back home in New Orleans. The leader encouraged me predicting our project would be eminently fundable. Margo Rose recommended George Thorn, whom she knew at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Connecticut, as a consultant. She told me he was a sheep farmer. He surprised me when he arrived looking like an ivy leaguer. I expected a little old man with a white beard wearing coveralls. He proved to be indispensable. He recommended PofA should confer on me the title of Executive Director and pay me a salary to convey organizational stability for fundraising purposes. At the time, I was President. Vincent Anthony took up that position, and we worked as a team. First, we needed to incorporate UNIMA-USA and obtain a 501-C 3 from the IRS, making it tax-exempt. Allelu Kurten led that process with Jim covering the legal costs. We structured it after the international UNIMA with an appointed General Secretary, and she volunteered for that position.
We decided to negotiate with Georgetown University (GU) for housing and to obtain as many other venues as possible for performances and exhibits. We hoped to produce a PBS Special for greater outreach. As commitments fell into place, the word spread about “the puppet thing”, and people approached us to participate.
Doris and Don McBride and Bob and Judy Brown offered me lodging in their homes in the early planning stages. I would make several calls before I left for meetings which Judy fielded for me, laughingly complaining about my using her number as a free answer service. When GU officials signed a contract for hosting the festival, I looked for an apartment/office in DC at my own expense. I found a marvelous condo on Connecticut Ave. When we first moved in, a visit to the Chinese Embassy across the street by President Carter brought swat teams swarming onto the rooftops. I learned that in DC local news is international news, which made it perfect for a World Puppetry Festival.
I dragged my only dependent child, Nana, along. Unwilling to walk a dog regularly, I persuaded Nana to make do with a cat. Named Socks because of his white feet, he learned to fetch balls and walk on a leash so she would not be too disappointed. I sometimes felt lonely away from New Orleans but at least some restaurants serve grits and fried chicken in DC, and it did not snow too often.
I persuaded my friend and colleague, Meghan Kelly, to move to DC as my assistant. Without her support and innumerable skills, there could have been no festival. She was not supposed to have a dog in the apartment she rented, so she brought him, Timothy, to the “office” every day. One day while we went out to lunch, he started tearing up the wall–to-wall carpet. I hated it anyway, and he inspired us to finish the job, exposing beautiful hardwood floors. He was otherwise a well-behaved Schnauzer and good company.
We could never have managed without Pat (Stephen P. Belcher, Jr.) Pat had worked for the United States Information Agency (USIA). He was essentially fired (forced into early retirement) in 1972, as retribution for not promoting Vietnam War propaganda while in Tanzania. In 1970, he returned to Washington and was given practically nothing to do for two years. He eventually found a new niche that perfectly suited his skills with the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife in the build-up to the bicentennial. He helped coordinate the entry of all the performing arts groups to the US, among other duties. The job ended by the time the preparations for the Puppet Festival began. That became our good fortune. Though a volunteer, Pat came to the office every day, graciously allowed by his lovely spouse, Louise. We gave him the official title “diplomatic liaison” in the program, but nick named him Marshall Belcher.. He kept all of us on the right path through his patience, dignity and sense of humor. His staff notes made us smile. I treasure the one urging us not to use memo pads with the PofA logo in house because they were “precious”, but he typed that on the PofA paper.
Most correspondence was in West European languages. Fortunately, a “white” Russian, Mr. Zak, lived in our building and kindly translated any correspondence in Russian. He was a Midshipman on a ship off the coast of China during the Red Revolution, and after escaping he had many adventures around the world. He eventually gained American citizenship. As an aeronautic engineer, he proved of value in World War II. We loved hearing his stories.
Due to the enormity of this project, I suffered considerable stress and a few panic attacks. I nearly had to seek help for one I experienced during a screening of Don Giovanni, but Mozart pulled me through. I hid the uncertainty and anxiety from Jim and everyone else, particularly the UNIMA General Secretary, Henryk Jurkowski. I did not want to cause him to have a premature heart attack. UNIMA now requires delegations to present concrete proposals including confirmed facilities and proof of funding for hosting a congress.
Rachel Redinger, PofA statutory agent, arranged a rare joint meeting with officers of the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Rachel, Jim, Jane and I discussed potential funding with them. Enthusiastic for the project, they advised us as to which endowment program we should apply for various aspects. Since neither agency could fund a book about American Puppetry we wanted for the delegates, they suggested an exhibit grant, which could include a catalog. That was a hard way to get a publication. Jim had Kermit in his hand luggage, but he did not need his help, only his reputation.We made successful grant applications to several NEA and NEH programs.
Governments, foundations and private corporations sponsored the travel expenses of many of the performing groups and delegates. The location of Washington, DC helped make that attractive. The Asian Cultural Council, JDR 3rd Foundation, and Exxon Corporation gave us crucial matching grants thanks to George Thorn’s connections.
The Japan Foundation sponsored PUK Theater of Japan to perform at the Kennedy Center and on tour to other cities across the country and in Canada and Mexico. When I attended an Asian-Pacific Puppet Festival in Japan PUK organized in 1979, I learned that its director, Taiji Kawajiri, had recurrent nightmares from his time in prison as a pacifist. Ironically, World War II reparations by Japan were the source of some of the foundation’s resources.
Pat Belcher made appointments at embassies and consulates seeking travel expenses for performers and delegates. He carried my briefcase to important meetings so I would appear to be in charge. All the same, the Egyptian cultural attaché never looked me in the eye. He told Pat the younger man replacing him did not want folk art to represent modern Egypt. But he prevailed before he left his post, and a wonderful Aragouz hand puppeteer participated.
Of course, we planned for earned income from ticket sales and registrations to cover part of the costs. As an experienced Broadway production consultant, George Thorn told Jim and me that a projected budget that was within 10% of the actual expenditures was outstanding. In a million dollar budget that meant $100,000 either way! We spent a lot of time calculating and recalculating our spreadsheets. We needed a big eraser and a lot of whiteout. No Excel Program in those days.
Jim preferred not to donate up front, but Henson Associates handled all legal matters and design and printing of publicity including stationery, post cards and posters. George Kurten tweaked the logo at my request as his contribution. I took Jim’s guarantee to cover any deficit on faith, as we put nothing in writing. Only my signature appeared on all the contracts and proposals. I guess Jim would have put up bail!
The GU campus is picturesque, but somewhat antiquated. Some registrants, particularly non-Americans, were not too happy with roommates and communal dorm bathrooms. Henryk Jurkowski found a hole in his student apartment wall, but never complained to me. At least as General Secretary of UNIMA, he was not in a dorm. Many other members of the executive committee had to stay in the dorms, but they were good sports in most cases. Festival Manager Gayle Schluter and her crew brilliantly handled assigning rooms and arbitrating complaints. A delegation arrived from France for which we had not received registration forms or fees. We never did collect from their travel agent! Along with other overflow attendees they stayed at George Washington University. I crashed in my apartment at home a few minutes away to avoid the mayhem. Meghan, Pat, George, Gayle and many others covered for me.
The GU cafeteria had gigantic windows and a veranda overlooking the Potomac. The cooks prepared and served an excellent menu affording dietary options for our foreign guests. Some delegates reported delight in seeing members of the executive committee and famous personalities, including Jim Henson and Sergei Obratzsov, standing in line carrying their own trays like everyone else. We requested a barbecue supper, and the weather cooperated. Some international guests found it memorable as typically American. The late night pub in the cafeteria with impromptu short shows, which PofA calls Pot Pourri, proved so popular the tradition continued at subsequent congresses.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (KC)
There were several spaces at GU that could serve for performances. We booked Trinity Theater within walking distance of the campus. But we determined that the KC would serve best for public and critical attention. I tried going through the back door meeting with people who were supposed to have influence. One of them subsequently was exposed as a sham living at Watergate with no furniture and not the French social elite he pretended to be. I finally just asked for an appointment with the Executive Director, Martin Feinstein. It turned out he appreciated puppetry as adult entertainment. He had worked for Sol Hurok booking a successful tour of the Central State Puppet Theater of Moscow in America. He put us on the schedule for the Eisenhower and Terrace Theaters for the festival week, and the Concert Hall for the Gala opening night. His assistant told me I should keep checking periodically to be sure we had not been bumped.
Carole Huggins, Director of The KC Theater for Young Audiences, agreed to hold an educational puppetry day in the KC the Saturday before the festival opening. The staff of Puppetry In Education (PIE) organized it. Carole proposed presenting extra shows for children by some of our performing groups as well.
Carole suggested I should get a written letter of intent from the KC. She composed one for me and managed to have it signed by Roger Stevens, Chairman of the Board. No sooner had I sent the actual contract to Al Gottesman at Henson Associates several months later than Mr. Stevens called me into his office. I did not sleep well the night before the meeting thinking through my strategy. He informed me he needed the Eisenhower Theater during our festival dates. He offered the Opera House, but I countered due to capacity it would not be appropriate and would certainly have to be at the same price as the Eisenhower. I explained the contract was already in the hands of the Henson lawyers. I handed him a copy of the letter he signed. After looking it over, he stated, “I guess we’re screwed. “ The good old girl network that really ran the center in those days spread the word that the festival was going forward, boosting our profile.
Unions were a concern at the KC. Due to the cold war, boycotts occurred, and some events were cancelled. I had some concern about our East European guests. A union rep at KC said, “Lady, you pay us, we don’t care where they come from.” Puppeteers not used to union houses, particularly the University of Connecticut (UConn) students, did not realize how much union stagehands cost. Fortunately we found a great Production Coordinator, Martha Knight, for the KC venues, and she hurried companies along.
On a very snowy day George and I sought out the head of the local musicians’ union. He terrified me when I heard him yelling at someone over the phone. When I described our festival he remarked, “ I used to play for puppeteers in vaudeville, a little of this, a little of that. We couldn’t play for you if we wanted to.” We did hire an orchestra for the Gala and the last campus party, which helped sway him. We simply could not have afforded standby musicians The KC would have been out of the question without this waiver from the union.
Gala Opening at the KC
We wanted American television celebrities to create a special invitation-only gala to open the festival for registrants and various funders and DC VIP’s. This would draw attention to the event and boost the status of the art of puppetry. We planned a matinee for the general public to help pay for it, and it sold out.
Henson Associates offered a specially staged live show as the finale. This promise opened doors to other stars. They all appeared just for expenses. Burr Tillstrom gracefully accepted the role of emcee. He did some Kukla and Ollie numbers and sang a wonderful song from Two by Two by Sondheim with Kukla. His incomparable “Berlin Wall “done with bare hands was a highlight of the evening. Bil Baird agreed to do some of his signature numbers. He stayed the whole week and gave performances at GU as well.
I was very nervous when Shari Lewis agreed to meet with me for breakfast at her home in L.A. I had never met her, and I was afraid she might refuse. She appeared in a running suit, exuding energy. It boosted my confidence that I could appreciate some of her art collection identifying some Sepik River masks. She expressed enthusiasm for the Gala. She relayed our discussion to a recorder including her conditions for a specific orchestra. She impressed me enough to make sure all her demands were met! Her fabulous dance turn with a life-sized manikin of Fred Astaire made a big hit and was featured on the PBS Special.
In one of my favorite moments in the Gala featured on the PBS documentary, Frank Oz and Jim Henson did a brilliant bit making jokes about puppeteers. Kermit was horrified when Fozzie persuaded him to look down to see he was being manipulated. Carroll Spinney did his roller skating feat as Big Bird carrying Oscar the Grouch. I ran up the aisle at the end of the evening performance to try to have Mr. Biddle, Chair of NEA, say a few words having finally arrived after another engagement. Just then Sweetums jumped down, nearly on top of me. That would have been a dramatic, tragic or comedic collision. It was too late for another speaker anyway. Ralph Rinzler, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Program and Vice-Chairman of the US Commission for UNESCO, had already handled the introduction to the World Puppetry Festival very well along with PofA President, Vince Anthony.
The Gala ran very late. We’d allotted each performer a given amount of time, but they all went way over. We had planned a cast party afterwards and had booked it at what we thought was a reasonable time, but the show ran so long, we worried that the food would be cold or stale. The staff handled the situation, but it was nail biting all the same. The audience stuck it out, apparently enjoying it all.
We formed a performance selection committee to determine what kinds of performances to present. We set our goals, aside from quality, for geographic distribution and wide variety of types of shows, techniques of puppetry, and target audiences. We wanted to highlight the best of puppetry for adults at the KC. Peter Zapletal accepted the position of artistic coordinator, a monumental task. Since we had no cell phones in those days, only walkie-talkies, it’s amazing he managed so well. The other courageous members of the committee included John Kurten, Ken McKay, Margo Rose, Lettie Schubert, and Aurora Valentinetti.
We decided to use about half of the program to showcase American talent and the other half to expose the American public to other cultures. The committee met at PofA festivals and in Washington DC and tackled the thankless task for no recompense. Many fine puppet artists were excluded due to their locations or types of show. It was particularly sad that, although we admired her work, the particular show Margo Lovelace offered did not fit into our agenda. Her son David Visser helped us navigate the complex bureaucracy of the NEA. Members reviewed as many shows as possible before the final selection. UNIMA Centers were consulted, but festivals in conjunction with UNIMA Congresses are autonomous and not required to accept center suggestions. Companies received free room and board and domestic transportation. Each had to raise its own travel costs. A small stipend was given to companies that gave public performances at the KC in addition to festival presentations.
34 performing groups from 20 nations took part, excluding the gala and cabaret shows. The majority of registrants forgot to send their ticket orders, which caused utter pandemonium. John Guerin, a New Orleans friend who used to perform in my Puppet Playhouse and had become a theater box office manager in New Orleans, agreed to coordinate tickets. Volunteers, especially Bob Baker and Alton Wood, gave untold hours to helping him distribute and exchange them.
I always loved Martin Stevens’ Toymaker. He once described it as his one-man show, assisted by his wife. He filmed it starring Rufus Rose. The U.S. State Department purchased foreign rights, translating it into 17 languages. I felt the theme of non-violence was perfect for an international festival so I asked him to do it the opening night at the Corcoran in its charming intimate theater. Henryk Jurkowski admired The Toymaker so much he translated it into Polish for production in his country.
Among shows in most demand were Bruce D, Schwartz and Figurentheater Triangel. We placed them in an appropriately small house, one after the other. They gallantly performed to full houses every night missing most other shows.
We presented Albrecht Roser the final evening at the KC. We did not anticipate the demand for seating as we assumed most puppeteers had already seen Gustaf and Ensemble. I relinquished my ticket to a disappointed Japanese puppeteer. Albrecht probably could have filled the Terrace Theater for a week.
I took stage plans of the Eisenhower Theater to Sergei Obratzsov in Moscowto invite him to present Don Juan there during the festival. He offered me a video of it but I told him to his surprise that I had seen it live. When I explained that one of his designers helped me negotiate admission to a sold out performance with a tough ticket taker at the 1976 Congress, he pretended to be shocked. Bil Baird really saved me embarrassment as he beckoned me to sit next to him when an usher demanded to look at my non-existent ticket. Whoever held the seat did not ask me to move. Sergei managed a booking at a festival in Mexico and could have performed in DC if we paid transportation back. By the time this happened, it was too late to change. He did perform his Solo Recital, accompanied by his wife at the piano, for which he is duly famous.
In Cirkus Unikum, the Drak Theater of Czechoslovakia alluded not too subtly to the oppression of the communist regime. We met apprehensively with Czech cultural exchange officers in Prague, and happily they agreed to Drak’s participation. I think they were politically supportive, not lacking perspective. Drak performed it at GU as well as its innovative version of the ballet Sleeping Beauty at the KC.
Julie Taymor walked into the office and told us we should book her Teatr Loh’s Way of Snow for the festival. She had an aura about her not to be denied. Her photos and videotapes blew us away. The cross-cultural basis made it particularly desirable for an international festival. The crew had a hard time adapting to the Gaston Hall stage at GU, but they succeeded. Everyone loved it and many tried to book it overseas.
The Bulgarian Embassy proposed sponsoring the Sofia Theater although we had not even issued an invitation. I quickly found a space for them and put them in the budget. They asked for cash in lieu of food!
The esteemed dalang, Pandam Gurito of Java, offered to perform at his own expense, so we gladly added him to the program. Larry Reed had already accepted our invitation to perform a Balinese wayang kulit show, so this gave attendees the opportunity to compare.
Bread and Puppet Theater staged an impromptu parade one night featuring Uncle Fatso, a political parody of Uncle Sam. The campus police intervened but fortunately the parade was just about over anyway so Peter did not object. We did not need a confrontation. Bread and Puppet recruited registrants and members of the community to parade around the mall to the Corcoran Gallery to publicize the exhibition there. The white birds made a spectacular sight waving in the wind alongside furling American flags at the Washington Monument, a perfect setting for an anti-war message.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival of Puppetry
The Smithsonian Folklife Program had held annual festivals on the mall since 1967. I noticed that some puppetry groups took part including a kuruma ningyo (rolling stool puppet) company of Japan. I made an appointment with the Director, Ralph Rinzler, to explore possible cooperation. I’ll never forget the wonderful collection of rocking chairs that served as his office furniture. He immediately assigned Jeffrey LaRiche and Frank Proschan to help plan a folk puppetry component for our festival. It was Jeffrey who suggested Pat Belcher, our “diplomatic liaison”, might join us. The Program had funds that could pay for performing groups as well as research in Egypt, Guinea, and India.
Because the budget would not cover a tent rental, we looked for performing spaces in the various museums around the mall. They were spread out, and some were simply too large. One day Jeffrey called to tell me a tent had magically appeared exactly where we needed it. Erected for the celebration of Belgium Today, the King of Belgium agreed to leave it up an extra week for our festival. The Renwick Museum featured performances and an exhibition of traditional marionettes from Liege as a contribution to the event, and it run during our festival. I actually shook the hand of the King at the opening party. We enjoyed the fabulous fireworks on the mall in his honor.
The NEA Folklife Program offered us a grant for American Performers. Steve Hansen’s Punch and Judy and the Manteo Sicilian Marionettes qualified. I remember the Manteo’s providing translation of the Italian scripts in heavy Brooklyn accents. It added an interesting note. NEA subsequently granted Papa Manteo a National Heritage Award.
Mr. Punch from the UK and Canada, Rajasthani marionettes, a story-scroll and Karnataka shadows from India, and an Aragouz hand puppet show from Egypt sponsored by the Smithsonian Folklife Program completed the schedule.
I complained about the amount of food charged for the Indian performers at the Smithsonian. The cafeteria director suggested maybe they were especially hungry or taking food back to the dorm. He finally discovered there was double billing. I felt vindicated. Speaking of food, some of my fondest memories of the Smithsonian are from the charming café for staff and members in the Smithsonian Castle.
We envisioned a mini-festival package to send to other performing arts centers. We only mangaed to book two. One was sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts and the other by the Cultural Resource Council of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The Hungarian National Theater teamed with the Smithsonian Folklife performers from India. My concept was to show modern puppetry in juxtaposition with traditional.
Someone got the idea for the troupes to go look at Niagara Falls between Detroit and Syracuse crossing through Canada. The US border officers made everyone get out of the bus and threatened to refuse re-entry. They declared the Smithsonian would be no exception! Inquiries before the trip indicated there would be no problem. Scared the East Europeans a bit, but the bureaucrats finally allowed them to continue on to DC. The rental truck carrying scenery for the mini-festival broke down but a replacement arrived to be reloaded and arrive on time.
Companies toured to 18 cities in the USA in addition to those in Mexico, and Canada by PUK. Their equipment did not arrive in time for one venue in the N.W. The performance had to be delayed, but the sponsors were very understanding. The Boerwinkels did not want to fly to their Figurentheater venues, then they complained of the long automobile trips. Drak played off-Broadway and some of the staff did outreach workshops around the country. Heather Mathiesson, who had studied puppetry in Czechoslovakia, acted as manager.
Helen Gundlach took all the logistics of booking and touring on her shoulders under difficult circumstances. She discovered Circle Travel near our office and the director, Edith Gross, and I remain friends to this day.
Allelu Kurten came to stay in Washington a month before the festival to help with hospitality for the Executive Committee. We wanted to throw a memorable welcome party for the members the night before the first meeting. She learned that a beautiful old mansion with a lovely garden belonged to the Organization of American States (OAS). The head of OAS, Ambassador John Jova, who was the brother of Henri Jova, a good friend of hers, arranged for us to use it. After a lovely catered meal, all were bussed to the gala opening of the exhibit Puppets and Things on Strings at the National Museum of History and Technology.
Hopi culture always appealed to me. I once went to a Hopi rain dance and did not get there in time because of a rainstorm. I decided one of the most unique souvenirs we might offer the Executive Committee members would be Kachina dolls. I ordered some from a Native American carver in Arizona. When I became concerned about their delivery, I learned that the artist had gone off to some ceremonies, and no one knew when he would return. Some beautiful figures did eventually arrive in time. Allelu wrapped them attractively along with info about them and their maker. I still treasure the one I kept for myself.
Livingston Biddle, Chair of NEA, gave the opening welcome speech at the Congress. We held it in the beautiful ornate Gaston Hall on the GU campus. Outstanding freelancing interpreters provided simultaneous translations. We intended to include Spanish, knowing many would attend from Latin America. Since the US Information Agency (ICA) rejected our grant proposal of $30,000, we could not afford to provide an unofficial language. Pandemonium ensued as volunteers found it difficult to do successive translation. The intervention of some colorful personalities compounded the problem. One friend, Ana Maria Amaral of Brazil, suggested it was just as well as it brought the issue to a boiling point. The UNIMA Council Members voted for Spanish to become an official language of UNIMA taking its place alongside French, English, and Russian.
I had been approached to run for the office of International UNIMA General Secretary. Allelu, Kurten thought that was a great idea and persuaded Jim to back an office in the USA financially. I was too stressed out over the festival to think that through and let the nomination happen. It was better for international and American puppetry that Jacques Félix received a majority vote for the position. The margin was narrow, but I was relieved. He was totally committed to establishing a world center for puppetry in his city of Charleville-Mézières in the Ardennes region of France. UNIMA continues to benefit from his vision and government support, and it still maintains its central office there.
Many members of the Executive Committee lobbied for reelection of Sergei Obratzsov as President. Some feared that the political momentum in America might detract from his popularity. When he was nominated, I took the initiative to move for a unanimous vote. It passed. Overwhelmed with relief and gratitude, he suggested the council elect me unanimously as a Vice-President.
UNIMA Conference and PofA Puppet Fair
Michael Meschke and Margareta Niculescu chaired the two-day conference Puppet Theatre as Cultural Heritage and Its Functions in Contemporary Society at the UNIMA Congress in Gaston Hall with simultaneous translation. We did not need most of the audio headsets. The Puppet Fair, held by PofA, in the GU gym, attracted the majority of registrants with practical demonstrations and workshops as well as an exhibit. The Puppetry Fair Coordinators, Don & Doris McBride, tried to find commercial vendors as I suggested, but found only one taker. The convention curtain barriers they ordered served well any way. The hands-on fair featuring instructional workshops, demonstrations and exhibits fascinated our international guests.
Academic Conference, June 13 and 14, 1980
Frank Proschan wrote his honors thesis The Puppetry Traditions of Sub-Saharan Africa: Descriptions and Definitions in 1980, which he presented at the UNIMA Congress. With the Smithsonian Folklife Program as host, he obtained NEH funding to hold an academic conference during the festival with the sponsorship of the University of Texas at Austin Center for Intercultural Studies and Ethnomusicology. Leading scholars shared research on World Traditions in Puppetry and Performing Arts for the two-day meeting at the National Museum of History and Technology. On Frank’s behalf, I remember calling a famous Yiddish puppeteer in New York. He yelled out to his elderly wife for permission to go. She shouted back no, and that was that. Frank facilitated a puppet festival himself in Vietnam years later and now works in Paris for UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Program, which has given recognition to several puppetry traditions.
Since UNIMA had been accepted as a class C member organization of UNESCO, I sought endorsement of the congress and festival from the U.S. Commission. Ralph Rinzler, Director of the Smithsonian Folklife Program, served as Vice-Chairman and supported our cause. We put UNESCO on the logo for the poster, post cards, and program as we felt that was very prestigious.
Peter Small & Associates Inc. handled our publicity. Newspaper and journal coverage abounded. The Muppets created some public service TV promos for us that gave us a big boost. Concerned over sales, KC financial officers called me into their office to suggest we pay for additional ads. I assured them the budget was adequate to pay for the spaces, and I did not feel I could justify more paid publicity. The Terrace Theater manager asked me later if it was true I did not want to make money. That’s how stories get passed along. Actually, we more than broke even at the Terrace. The Gala matinee in the Concert Hall sold out and public performances at the Eisenhower had a reasonable attendance. Some surplus tickets made available at Georgetown performances, were in demand.
I lost some sleep worrying about US immigration and customs. When I told the district supervisor we were doing a puppet festival he exclaimed “Puppet Festival? My wife does puppets at her church. No problem. “ Pat Belcher composed an official notice to all US Embassies and Consulates about the festival and congress through the State Department officially urging facilitation of visas. Peter Waschinsky of East Germany got one at the last minute in Paris.
We had been given the former phone number of the Iranian Student Union – and this was during the time of the Iranian Hostage Crisis. We received threatening calls from angry men in the middle of the night who apologized when we told them they had the wrong number.
An FBI agent arrived unannounced one day early on. Meghan recognized his voice as having called for information about Puppeteers of America the day before. He asked me why I visited the Czech Embassy. After learning more about puppetry than he ever wanted to know and taking one swig of my strong New Orleans coffee with chicory, he made a hurried exit. We never had another investigation.
By 1979, we had an impressive schedule to take to UNIMA meetings in Budapest and Moscow. The entire staff helped prepare packets of papers for delegates, and we threw my personal belongings frantically into a suitcase at the last moment. I made the flight, but the Hungarian customs confiscated the papers. That made me very nervous, but they released them in time for me to take them to Moscow and distribute them to the delegates!
Paranoia prevailed about visitors from the Soviet Union. One mini-festival host remarked her favorite stagehands were KGB. They seemed to have no practical function. I imagine they were bureaucrats getting freebie trips. Some reporters started digging for sensational publicity, asking if Soviets would be blocked from attending. Unfortunately a student even reported that happened in his MA Thesis for NY University. He must have read a blurb by one of the troublemaking journalists. Actually, Sergei Obratzsov not only performed at GU, but he appeared on the PBS Special, Here Come the Puppets, wishing peace between our countries and throughout the world.
Allelu Kurten decided we should have hostesses at the KC performances to make announcements and give bouquets to the performers after the curtain call. She and Nikki Tilroe dressed beautifully and were charming. However, at a registrant matinee in the Eisenhower Theater, an audience member shouted out in French that this was an international festival. I suspect he was a hypersensitive Québecois. I immediately ran to the foot of the stage and apologized, explaining the brief announcement in French. I put a stop to the practice given that we had a written bi-lingual program. The flowers sufficed! On the GU campus, announcers got translation assistance for announcements in French and Spanish to avoid the problem. The Russians had to fend for themselves.
Jim and I felt it was logical to cooperate with the DC PBS station to produce a documentary of the festival. The manager arranged a meeting with the head of funding. She was quite abrupt and unenthusiastic. She looked at my Louisiana phone number and stated that she had never called THAT area code before. After several weeks elapsed, I went in and retrieved the grant application form. The manager requested a breakfast meeting with me, but it was too late.
Jim recommended we cooperate with WQED in Pittsburgh with whom he had a past relationship. Head of Production, Dale Bell jumped at the opportunity. He assigned Jerry Hughes as director. During our planning meeting, someone ran into the room in hysterics. He reported they were filming an anniversary show of Mr. Rogers, and the crew had placed a blow-up female dummy in his closet. When he opened the door to retrieve his famous sweater he collapsed behind it giggling. I know this to be true as I once saw it on an “outtake” TV show. The warmth and humor at WQED made me feel at home.
We met with a Corporation for Public Broadcasting official about how to obtain financial support for the special. When she left, Jim asked me if you really had to do all that to produce a show. She was thrilled to meet Kermit the Frog, but we did not receive much from that source. WQED did find matching funds for us from Alcoa.
Part of the deal with WQED was to record entire shows whenever set up for a vignette. We placed copies of the over 35 hours of tape in Lincoln Center Library of Performing Arts, UNIMA/USA headquarters at CPA, and in the PofA Audio-Visual Library. The edited WQED one-hour documentary of the festival, Here Come the Puppets, aired on PBS and around the world to an estimated 10 million viewers. As a consequence of their efficiency, the KC hired the WQED team for a series of presentations,
Richard Bauman of the University of Texas at Austin Center for Intercultural Studies and Ethnomusicology sponsored videotaping of the Folklife performances. The Smithsonian Folklife Program edited Rajasthani puppetry footage from field research by Nazir Jairazbhoy for a half hour documentary. The researcher himself produced a longer video Retooling a Tradition: A Rajasthani Puppet Takes Umbrage at his Stringholders (a fictional documentary).
Corcoran Museum: Puppets: Art & Entertainment
We decided the Corcoran Gallery would be the best venue for a proposed exhibit of the history of American puppetry. Focusing on its functions in American society would make it eligible for NEH funding. I tried to enter by the back door again. A colleague introduced me to a friend on the board. He advised me that an exhibit of puppets would not be appropriate at the Corcoran. I met with the curator Ed Nygren anyway, and he loved the idea. I decided no more back doors!
I immediately enlisted my friend the avid puppet collector and historian, Alan Cook, to identify objects for the grant proposal. He traveled extensively to solicit loans and make photographs of objects he recommended with only expenses paid. Several puppeteers gave him room and board including Mary Churchill and Paul Vincent-Davis, Larry Engler, and Lillian Oppenheimer. The NEH required measurements, but Alan did not always find time. Working in the early hours before sending my daughter to school and the arrival of our “staff”, I filled out the forms making educated guesses. When I confessed that at a design meeting, Ed laughed, “Shame on you.” I figured if I did not know, neither would the grant reviewers. We did receive NEH funding. We needed to match the NEH funds to qualify. George Thorn had connections at Exxon. The director of funding came down to meet with the Corcoran staff and then go to our “office.” We had locked up the cat and hidden the TV to eliminate evidence of living there. He was so satisfied with the enthusiasm at the Corcoran he just flew right back to NY, so the office address served us well enough. His successor visited once on free Mobil night and was annoyed at the size of the competition’s logo, but we already had the grant.
I had seen an impressive performing arts exhibit at the KC for the 1976 centennial celebration that included puppetry so I sought out the designers, Bob Staples and Barbara Charles. (Staples & Charles Ltd). They accepted the project and proposed the title Puppets: Art & Entertainment. The firm designed a flexible portable exhibition and all the graphics. Michael Malkin, author of Traditional and Folk Puppetry of the World, agreed to write the catalog essay. We recruited a former Corcoran intern, Myriam Springuel, to work with us in coordinating the exhibit. She later told me that she came to the interview with great trepidation since the office was in a lady’s apartment. But she accepted to our delight. With museum training she could coordinate documentation of the objects recommended and located by Alan Cook. Alan toured with the exhibit to care for and pose the puppets. Once I was escorting some VIPs and heard a giggle from inside a display case. It was Alan amused by the disinformation I gave out. Alan is a walking encyclopedia of American Puppetry.
Margo Rose recommended a young man, Gordon Linge, she met in Iowa at the Baird exhibit. He took over management of the installation and later became tour manager. He cheerfully helped wherever he was needed from rearranging furniture to cooking, to cheering us up. Once he placed a piece of charcoal on a plate as a joke, which I put in my mouth, confirming his theory I would eat anything. Gordon met his future wife Jill at the Chicago venue. She’s from my hometown, New Orleans, where they now live. They married in Le Petit Théâtre where I once served as director of children’s theatre.
Judy and Bob Brown designed and built a show of the art of puppetry for the exhibit, which John McAnistan performed several times every day. We estimate he did nearly 4000 shows, which were largely responsible for the record attendance. Judy Brown gave a course in puppetry at the Corcoran. She gave workshops during the exhibit tour as well. Jim Gamble arranged to do a video demo of trick marionette manipulation using some from DIA that would be included in the exhibit. It’s available in the PofA AV Library.
We tried to find other venues for the exhibit when it was scheduled to close at the Corcoran. Conover Hunt-Jones, the curator of the Dallas Historical Society, called me every week begging for more time to find funding. We put the exhibit in storage risking further financial loss rather than disassemble it. When Mrs. Meadows, a major Dallas patron, learned the exhibit included the Muppets, she said she’d write the check because she loved Kermit the Frog. The record-breaking attendance there lead to 9 more bookings: Chicago Historical Society, Indianapolis Children’s Museum, Cooper-Hewitt Museum in NYC, Southern Ohio Museum in Portsmouth, Science Museum of Minnesota, Detroit Institute of Arts, Colorado Historical Society in Denver, Oakland Museum, and Museum of History and Industry in Seattle. Approximately 700,000 persons saw the exhibit on tour meaning it reached nearly 1 million people.
Exxon’s NY PR firm rejected our poster design. I did not like their attitude or the new graphic they placed on NY buses. I was delirious when their skepticism about the draw of puppetry was proven wrong by crowds in line all the way around the block at the Cooper-Hewitt, breaking attendance records there, too.
One African-American executive at Exxon Headquarters in NYC complained about the Puppetoons clip. A little black boy with big lips like Satchmo finds a trumpet and plays jazz on it. He later returns the trumpet to its owners. She withdrew her objection after her boss made her view it in its entirety in his presence. That was a time of hypersensitivity to possible racial slurs.
Alan Cook informed me that in Oakland we did drop the lovely George Pal Jasper & The Scarecrow clip. The Black Panthers were on nightly TV news in those days and looking for any excuse to get on. The new director of the Oakland Museum who had worked at the Smithsonian was African-American. Although he saw the value of Jasper in Puppetoons, he did not want to provide the Panthers with an excuse to grab attention away from the PofA Puppet Exhibit. So we stuck a Gumby clip in place of Jasper and avoided a big headache. We broke attendance records, and the last day, entrance lines wound around the block just as in NYC.
Judy Brown wrote a hilarious play script Maiden Aunties. It parodied our motley crew in residence at a hotel in NYC near the Cooper-Hewitt that turned out to be popular with call girls. It’s now a boutique hotel. Humor and the large crowds kept everyone going!
The highlight of the tour was a joint venue with Art of the Muppets at the Detroit Institute of Arts, home of the Paul McPharlin Collection. A last minute cancellation of an exhibit from the Soviet Union gave the museum the space to mount them at the same time. It seemed appropriate to have the pinnacle of American puppetry supported by its historic roots.
Smithsonian Institution Museum Exhibits
We lobbied every Smithsonian Museum we knew had puppets or art relative to puppetry to display them during the festival. In most cases, we had easy access thanks to the Folklife Program connection and participation. Jeffrey LaRiche edited a comprehensive catalog, Puppetry at the Smithsonian.
Museum of History and Technology: The director of the Division of Community Life at the museum was unsympathetic though I listed several puppets I had seen there including some Muppets. In a letter asking for an appointment, I mentioned Smithsonian Institute, and he corrected me as to that common mistake. The Smithsonian is an Institution. I’ll never made that mistake again. He also chided me for giving Punch the title of ‘Mr.” I was put off so I wrote back and apologized for institute but informed him that he was wrong about “Mr.” Punch, enclosing a Baird book photo as proof. I guess that tickled him because he agreed to see me after all. I recognized some Guatemalan wedding beads, which raised me in his estimation. Eventually his department created an excellent exhibition, Puppets & Things on Strings. The museum’s collection of puppetry has grown with gifts from the Hensons, the Manteos, Jay Marshall and others. The Bergen family donated a Charlie in time for the festival.
Museum of African Art: At our first meeting, the museum specialist asked for a definition of a puppet. When I responded, “an object imbued with life by a human” she retorted “Then everything in our museum is a puppet”. She considered the definition would be an insult to some Africans and patrons. Several months later she called to discuss the matter further. She quoted the report that Smithsonian Folklife had funded for us by Halim El Dabh validating the term puppet for some Sub-Saharan African sculpture. Jeffrey and I refrained from mentioning we had commissioned the field research and pretended the information was news to us. The museum subsequently mounted an extensive exhibition.
The Renwick: The Musée de la Vie Wallonne presented an exhibition and live traditional rod marionette shows during the celebration of Belgium Today that continued through July. Miriam Springuel, originally from Belgium, and I invited the Belgian curator out to supper. As we were speaking French, Alan Cook, who had tagged along, cheeped in from time to time with random French words he knew such as filet mignon, champagne, Chevrolet coupé, etc. I remember that twinkle in his eye, but I think the dignitary was perplexed, which made it even funnier.
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: I had a catalog of Alexander Exter Marionettes from a NYC Gallery stating they were from the Hirshhorn Museum. The curator was pleased to mount them during the festival along with some of Exter’s theater designs. During my meeting there I ran into an old friend from New Orleans, an Australian sculptor. I once had a mad crush on him. Sadly he was leaving so I drove him to the airport. Oh, well.
The Freer Gallery of Art: displayed a large folding screen of a Japanese ningyo jōruri performance along with some scrolls. Calendars and post cards of them were available.
Museum of Natural History: We pointed out that its collection of rare Malaysian puppets was on display. Since then, the museum received a donation of the significant Donald Cordry collection of Mexican masks.
Air and Space Museum: There were three animated puppet scenes in the museum enacting and discussing flight technology. We simply called attention to them.
The Organization of American States: sponsored a Mamulengo exhibit organized by Magda Modesto of UNIMA-Brazil. The innovative design consisted of white cloth stretched on portable structures. This genre of traditional folk puppetry of the Nordeste (Northeast) of Brazil has its own charming museum in Olinda. The troupe Mamulengo Só-Riso performed as part of the festival. On opening night I commandeered the bus containing Sergei Obratzsov to the OAS after the Corcoran opening on the way to the KC Gala. We were all impressed and word of mouth steered many to the exhibit.
George Mason University: The Federal Theater Project archives and artifacts were housed at George Mason University. The director, Lorraine Brown, readily agreed to mount an exhibit to demonstrate its role in nourishing important puppet artists including Bil Baird and Ralph Chesse. Registrants could sign up for buses to go see it. Their interest led to a symposium the next year.
As ever, Archie Elliot, PofA Festival Advisor, looked at what was needed most and filled in the breech. He coordinated all transportation day and night. I hope he found time to eat. I know he did not see much of the festival. When the school bus company threatened to cancel at the last moment, I was devastated, but they came through after all. The buses were essential to shuttle participants from GU to KC, the Corcoran, and the Smithsonian. One day I was running late to go to the KC, but the only other person waiting in the bus was George Thorn’s son. I told the driver I was the festival director and really needed to go immediately. He got permission by walkie-talkie and impressed George’s son so much he later told his father we had a whole bus for just us!
Volunteer drivers met UNIMA VIP’S at the airport and helped transport registrants as needed. Audley Grossman lent us a DIA van. Once he tried to take it back but the volunteer drove away quickly leaving him racing behind. He was not pleased. Luis Barroso, an actor/director friend from N.O. chauffeured performers to interviews and loved every minute. He became artistic director at CPA for several years where he received some UNIMA-USA Awards for his productions.
I met Sergei Obratzsov personally at the airport. Two Russian Embassy staffers were there, too, He gave me a present, which I wanted to open immediately. One of the staffers said Americans are like children, and Sergei said “Me, too, go ahead and open it now.” It was a small porcelain statue of him with two hand puppets from his Solo Recital. After the festival, I woke up a few times yelling, “Someone meet the Russians at the airport.” My children found that hilarious. They assured me the Russians had gone home, and I could go back to sleep.
Barbara Goltz edited the essential Update, a bilingual, French/English daily newsletter of important information, additions and changes. Maury Haykin contributed artwork. Meghan Kelly my indispensible assistant director and Myriam Springuel, our exhibit coordinator, a native French speaker, went beyond the call of duty, coordinating and translating this necessity!
The Blue Sky puppet company and many others acted as ushers and house managers. Papa Manteo was furious one time when the house manager would not seat him as he arrived too late. She reported he fumed “Don’t they know who I am?” I never told him she was my daughter, Leslie.
Stage managers and crews worked tirelessly to keep the shows on schedule. Bart Roccoberton, Jr, now director of the puppetry program at UConn, showed his dedication to puppetry as stage manager of the Trinity Theater. Joann Siegrist brought some of her students from West Virginia University to assist.
Several other National Capital Puppetry Guild members gave moral and physical support to the project. I especially appreciated Allan Stevens, whom I never could repay for his kind encouragement in the midst of his own pressing commitments. His popular Puppet Company now has a performance space in Glen Echo, Maryland, near DC. Untold hundreds of others stepped in wherever needed to interpret, fetch things, or just offer advice and hospitality. An organization of volunteer interpreters helped our guests navigate registration and made themselves available all week.
Family and Friends
My daughter, Nana, hid out in the back room of our apartment, which became a busy overcrowded office. At one point towards the end, our full time staff consisted of seven persons, with others in and out. The cat, Socks, perched on a high ledge to escape the mayhem, sighed one day, and Nana said, “I know just how you feel.”
My other daughters, Leslie and Liz, and one of their friends, Erin Richardson, came to live with me the festival week acting as house managers and filling in wherever needed. One evening I arrived to learn the girls had been held up at gunpoint right around the corner although there were security guards at the Chinese Embassy across the street. My son Tommy and his friend Norman Jones, who had driven the production truck to Detroit and Syracuse, were disappointed they did not see it happen. The girls survived and stayed on afterwards to help wrap up all the reports and thank you letters.
Ray J. Poret, a member of my New Orleans Puppet Playhouse, visited from time to time bearing fresh New Orleans seafood, which he personally prepared for us. Once he arrived with nothing in hand. We groaned but he quickly remedied the situation buying some shrimp reputed to be from Louisiana from a boat on the Potomac River! Mary Belle Boyd, the lady who raised me from the age of five, took pity on me and sent care packages of some of her specialties.
Carl Harms formerly with the Bil Baird Theater called on me to offer any assistance he could give. That meant a lot to me, and we became close friends. When I later helped organize the first Henson International Festival, he stood by me once again. He was President of the Actors’ Equity Foundation, which he pointed out is the oldest theater organization in the world, not UNIMA. UNIMA can claim to be the oldest international theater organization.
Final Financial Report
When George Thorn and I received the first estimated report of a $100,000 deficit, we went out to a gourmet Italian restaurant for our “last supper.” I often remember George’s good advice, “Don’t panic, it only adds to the confusion.” The deficit turned out to be $30,000, reimbursed to PofA by Jim Henson as promised, and the tour of the exhibit Puppets Art & Entertainment, earned more than that! Jim did not ask for a refund.
$30,000 is the exact amount of the grant the USICA rejected at the last moment. That would have balanced the budget without the exhibition tour! Pat Belcher wrote a scathing paper on government bureaucracy and lack of support, Is the US Ready for Culture? He praised Puppeteers of America for holding a successful international cultural event, remarking sarcastically “one might yearn for a nice dictatorship with funds, authorizations and functionaries on the same team”.
Although the membership of PofA had reached over 2000, I realized the budget could not sustain a paid Executive Director. I resigned suggesting the title and salary could be diverted to the exhibition tour director, Gordon Linge. He let go when the tour ended. Many members advocated return to a volunteer staff with honorariums. As the next Executive Director, Judy Brown courageously tried to find funding , but eventually threw up her hands in despair!
Don Schluter, a professional CPA who volunteered his time at the bequest of his wife, PofA Treasurer Gayle Schluter, kept us in check on spending and tracking every penny. It was difficult dealing with each other at a distance before the speed of Internet, but both he and Gayle were steady, strong, and efficient. I am grateful for their patience and generosity of spirit.
In addition to Sesame Street for young children, the Muppet Show of the Henson Associates brought puppetry to millions of adult Americans on prime time on TV making this festival possible.
I believe we achieved one of the primary objectives of the event showing the American public high quality puppetry demonstrating its roots and diversity. Official recognition by NEA of puppetry as a unique art form, listed in their funding guidelines, rewarded our efforts. Benefits of increased visibility of puppetry included funding for UNIMA-USA and Puppeteers of America in addition to companies and solo puppeteers.
A major recipient of support was the Center for Puppetry Arts (CPA) in Atlanta where UNIMA-USA maintains its offices. The CPA’s Executive Director, Vincent Anthony, served on the influential performing arts overview panel as well as the theater panel for several years. I served one year and then became a site reviewer with assignments across the country. I acted as an associate producer in the KC Theater for Young Audiences Program until my University of Hawaii sabbatical in 1990, where I earned an M.A.
We intended to make a TV series from the festival footage. The idea stayed with Jim. He produced the six one hour specials, Jim Henson Presents, expanding video documentation of puppetry. A proliferation of puppetry exhibits, conferences and publications happened in part due to the exposure from the 1980 World Puppetry Festival.
At parties after the festival, sometimes people told me about that marvelous PBS special or wonderful exhibit when I mentioned, “I’m a puppeteer,” not realizing my involvement. From time to time, I find someone affected by the event. Bob and Elise Nathanson, who did an archival interview of me for PofA, testified it inspired them to become full time puppeteers. In his forward to his book about puppetry in India, Living Dolls, the author Jiwan Pani claimed the festival changed his life. The highest praise so far came from Penny Francis who stated in the online blog, Puptcrit, VoL 108, No 8, 2013, “Of the many festivals I've been to, it was one of the half-dozen best.” In 1979, Allelu, Vince and I took great inspiration from hers in London.
Relieved of the financial burden of an office for International UNIMA, Jim and Jane Henson created a foundation to promote puppetry in America, which I served as a consultant. I used to tell Jim, “Your money, my time.” In 1992, the Jim Henson Foundation held an International Puppetry Festival at The Public Theater in NYC, which I helped organize. Every year since 1980, I had suggested that would be a way to reach New York theater critics and audiences with sophisticated puppetry arts. Cheryl Henson, President of the Henson Foundation, and Leslee Asch directed several more festivals with great success. The NY theater critics do now regularly cover puppet productions.
Thanks to the Hensons as artists and benefactors and to hundreds of puppeteers, presenters and unsung heroes, our profession has become widely recognized and appreciated in America. I apologize for errors and omissions. I turned over slides, photos, press, etc. to the PofA and UNIMA-USA archives, which you can examine. Many of the key players have passed away, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
Bauman, Richard. Project Director. World Traditions of Puppetry and Performing Arts. Austin TX: University of Texas at Austin Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 1980.
Belcher, Stephen P., Jr. 1980. “Is the U.S. Ready for Culture?” Unpublished manuscript.
Brown, Judy. 1983. “Maiden Aunties.” Unpublished play script.
LaRiche, Jeffrey ed. Puppetry at the Smithsonian. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Folklife Program, 1980.
Linge, Gordon. 1983. “Puppets: Art & Entertainment: An Exhibition Spanning 800 Years of Puppetry. Unpublished report.
Ring, Randy, ed. UNIMA XIII: The World Puppetry Festival 1980 (Program). Washington, DC: Puppeteers of America, Inc. 1980.
Staub, Nancy Lohman, Project Director. Puppets: Art & Entertainment. Washington, DC: Puppeteers of America, Inc.1980.
1980. XIII Congress of UNIMA and 1980 World Puppetry Festival.” Unpublished report, 1980.
Here Come the Puppets. Executive Producer, Dale Bell. 1981. Videocassette. WQED.
Kathputli: String Puppets of Rajasthan.. 1980. Dir. Nazir Jairazbhoy. Videocassette. Smithsonian Folklife Program.
Trick Marionettes. Dir. Jim Gamble. 1980. Videocassette. Puppeteers of America, Inc.