National Puppetry Conference Announces 23rd Season at the O'Neill; Application Deadline 3/8

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center has announced the 23rd Annual National Puppetry Conference, with the application process now underway for participants. The Conference begins June 5, 2013 and culminates with public performances June 15 & 16. Pre-Conference intensive workshops run June 5 - 7.

Over the course of eight days, conference participants collaborate with nationally and internationally renowned puppet artists, and each other, to produce innovative plays and productions that push the boundaries of puppetry's definitions and dare participants to challenge themselves and their audience. The conference is open to puppeteers, musicians, artists, actors, playwrights, and students as an ideal venue to experiment and develop new work.

This year's guest artists are Sandy Spieler and Larry Siegel and James Godwin.

Sandy Spieler and Larry Siegel will be working on Wonder?! They are interested in stepping into one of the roots of puppet theatre as transformative ritual, and creating a performance that dives into the "dialectics of Wonder?!"-of discovering the gifts of everyday wonder amidst the perplexing tragedies of our time. Participants will work with individual ideas as well as a communal piece, and will use several scales and varieties of puppets. Music will also be a focus.

James Godwin and participants will be exploring Puppets, Performance, and the Archetype of the Trickster. The workshop will look at the roots of puppetry as a ritual tool and puppets' continued ability to evoke a sense of wonder and magic, as well as the uncanny and the weird. The workshop will explore various ways of tapping into this innate power in order to create compelling performances and develop images, stories, and content, drawing on techniques from surrealism, shamanism, and performance art to clowning, improvisation, and vaudeville.

The Conference will also feature returning marionette masters Phillip Huber and Jim Rose, who will lead the marionette building and performing strands of the conference. Martin P. Robinson will direct a new strand entitled "Puppet Performance: The Halloween Project" which will use large scale marionette/rod puppets of truly hideous creatures in an exploration of the Hansel and Gretel story to explore the sacrifices that must sometimes be made to re-find love and ultimate redemption for all those touched by it.

Pre-Conference intensive workshops will feature Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass: Directing for the Puppet Theater, Jim Kroupa: Everything You Want to Know about Mechs and Then Some!, Robert Smythe: Writing the Puppet Narrative, John Bell: Great Spectacles on Small Stages: Toy Theater Workshop.

Applications will be accepted until March 8th at 11:59 PST. There is a $35.00 USD application fee. To apply online and for information on financial assistance and scholarships, visit

Artist Bios

SANDY SPIELER is a sculptor, painter, graphic artist, performer, theatre director, teacher, and perpetual student. Her work includes tiny puppet shows performed in a suitcase, community collaborative performances, performance installations, main stage Theater Productions, permanent public art commissions, and streetscape designs. She is one of the founders of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and has served as its Artistic Director since 1976. She is the director/midwife of the Annual Mayday Parade and Ceremony involving thousands of participants in her diverse urban home community in Minneapolis, USA and has also directed epic performances in South Korea, Los Angeles, and the Dominican Republic. For 30 years Sandy has created work about water, including the on-going multi-faceted initiative "Invigorate The Common Well."

Larry Siegel is a composer, a director of theater and community arts residencies, and a nationally known performer of traditional music. As the founder and for thirteen years Resident Composer and Director of the Music for Puppetry program at the National Puppetry Conference he worked with an average of fifteen or more participants, emerging artists and guest artists yearly, which resulted in... Wow!! a lot of puppet shows! He has also created collaborative work with Dan Hurlin, Valeria Vasilevski, In the Heart of the Beast, Underground Railway Theater, Perry Alley Theater, Lisa Sturz, and US Congressman Paul Hodes, among others. He has received many awards, including five grants from the Jim Henson Foundation, a McKnight Fellowship, Fellowships to Tanglewood and the MacDowell Colony, and fellowships from many other foundations and arts agencies.

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