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.

JAMES GODWIN is a performance and visual artist and puppeteer. He is a founding member of the Elementals puppet company and "Uncle Jimmy's Dirty Basement". His work has been presented all over NYC and beyond in such venues as P.S.122, Dixon Place, DTW, Franklin Furnace, LaMama and the Walker art center. He was also a cast member of Henson Alternative's Off-Broadway show "Stuffed and Unstrung" He has worked with Julie Taymor, Dave Chappelle, David Bowie and even Aerosmith. His film and T.V. credits include "I sell the dead", "Ice Age 2", as well as "It's a Big Big World" for PBS, "Saturday Night Live" and the forthcoming "StakeLand". James' one man show, "Lunatic Cunning" was awarded a 2012 project grant from the Jim Henson Foundation and had its premier at Dixon Place in N.Y.C. in April of that year. "Lunatic Cunning" is also an official selection of the National Festival of the Puppeteers of America in 2013.

Founded in 1964, The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center honors the work of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize Winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, and is the recipient of two Tony Awards, in 2010 for Regional Theatre, and in 1979 for Theatrical Excellence.

The O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for American theater. It has been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and to more than 2,500 emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at other theaters around the world, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, and major regional theaters.

The National Puppetry Conference is a multi-faceted conference whose primary mission is the development of solid dramaturgical works for the puppet theater. It culminates with two public performances of the newly developed works. It is led by National Puppetry Conference Artistic Director, Pam Arciero and Preston Whiteway, Executive Director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center.

In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates the Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. Childhood summer home of Eugene O'Neill, the Cottage is a National Historic Landmark.

In addition to its Tony recognition, the O'Neill has received the National Opera Award, the Jujamcyn Award for Theatre Excellence, and the Arts and Business Council Encore Award. For more information, visit or email

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