2017 National Puppetry Conference Staff
Click on a name to view a full bio.
Pam Arciero is a principal puppeteer with Sesame Street and Between the Lions, performing numerous characters, most notably Grundgetta Grouch and Leona Lion, respectively. She has worked on many adult and children's programs including Lomax: The Hound of Music, Blue's Clues: Blue's Room, Chappell's Show, Allegra's Window, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, TV Funhouse, Oobi, Eureeka's Castle, and The Great Space Coaster. She has performed in many commercials and films, including commercials for Zappos, Fuze, and Angel Soft, and the films Sundance Myths, Sundance Film Festival: Extreme Measures, Little Monsters, and Follow That Bird.
As a stage director, she directed Iftah Ya Simsim - Sesame Street Saudi Arabia, Elmo's World Live, Oscar's Big Game Show, Gotta Dance, Bird's Beach Party for Sesame Place, Play with Me Sesame Live, and Disney's Wahoo Wagon at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles.
Pam directed the film Whiskey Neat, and she has also directed Between the Lions and Oobi for television. Pam has taught for the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the University of Hawaii, Sesame Street International, the University of Connecticut, and California State University, Fresno. She holds an undergraduate degree in Drama from the University of Hawaii and a master's degree in Puppetry from the University of Connecticut.
Jean Marie is a Brooklyn-based producer, puppet artist and writer. She is the lead producer for James Godwin's critically acclaimed The Flatiron Hex and multi-award winning Lunatic Cunning. Most recently, Jean Marie has served as the Executive Producer for Heather Henson & Ty Defoe's Crane as will as Henson's International Crane Backpack Show. Jean Marie continues to write and produce original works with her collaborators including Zwerge and the upcoming Elephant in the Room with Sahr Ngaujah for her production company, Little Shadow Productions. Prior to her long tenure as the VP of Business Development at Puppet Heap, she produced, built puppets, stage managed, and puppeteered for productions around the world and domestically at venues including Carnegie Hall and the Cherry Lane Theater. Building credits include The Muppets, Baby Einstein, The Daily Show, Avenue Q, and Funny or Die to name a few. Jean Marie has been fortunate to receive fiscal support from the Jim Henson Foundation and the Puffin Foundation and residencies at NIDSA, Space on Ryder Farm, The Orchard Project, The O'Neill and more. A graduate of the UConn Puppet Arts program, she is a recurring guest lecturer at New York University. Jean Marie is former board memberof the international puppetry organization, UNIMA-USA. http://www.littleshadowproductions.com
Z. Briggs has worked as a professional puppeteer for 9 years - as a performer and builder on numerous projects, including Alissa Hunnicutt's The Kid Inside, Johnny Clockworks' Edward Lear's Absurd Ditties, Kevin Augustine's Bride, and as the character Lottie Lamb on the PBS kids show SeeMore's Playhouse. Currently, Z is busy building and performing for WonderSpark Puppets, a collaboration with her husband, Chad Williams. Check them out at WonderSparkPuppets.com.
When not performing puppets, Z can also be found in her other role - as Foundation Manager of the Jim Henson Foundation.
Bobbi Nidzgorski was the first graduate of The Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts MFA degree program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and Connecticut College in 1987. Her solo thesis production, Earth Peace, has since been performed at The New England Theatre Conference, The Wadsworth Athenaeum Avery Theatre, The Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Regional Puppetry Festival, the Drama Studio in Springfield, MA, the 1989 National Festival of the Puppeteers of America, and throughout the east coast. She has been the Artist-in-Residence for the Southern Tier Institute, where she performed throughout the Binghamton, NY School System. Bobbi studied in Charleville-Mézières, France for six weeks under Larry Reed and Andre Tahon. In addition, she was on staff with the O’Neill Puppetry Conference for 21 years.
Bobbi also performs Earth Peace, Essence, and short puppet slam animal vignettes. Additionally, she conducts classroom and teacher workshops, performances, and demonstrations in various forms of puppetry including Mask Making, Shadow Theatre, Rod Puppets, and Marionettes
Bart Roccoberton has worked as professional puppet artist since 1972.
For more than 40 years he has toured popular puppet performances to schools, libraries, colleges, theatres and museums from Washington DC to Montreal with his own troupe, The Pandemonium Puppet Company, and with students from the University of Connecticut and The Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts.
As Founder and Director of The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts (1984-1990), he became recognized, internationally, as one of the leading advocates for the Puppet Arts in the U.S and abroad. In 1996, Mr. Roccoberton was sent by the U.S. Information Agency as an American Cultural Specialist to work with professional puppet companies in Beijing, Fujian, Yang Zhou, Guang Zhou and Xi’an. He has been sent as a U.S. delegate to the International Congresses in Llubljana, Slovenia, Budapest, Hungary, Magdaburg, Germany and Rijecka, Croatia. He has also served as a counselor for the Professional Training Commission of the Union Internationale de la Marionenette centered in Charleville-Mezieres, France.
In August of 2015, Roccoberton served as Director of the National Puppetry Festival of the Puppeteers of America, which was held at the University of Connecticut. Since 1990, he has been Director of the Puppet Arts Program and Professor of Dramatic Arts in Puppetry at the University of Connecticut, and is a founding member of the O’Neill’s National Puppetry Conference where he currently serves as Director of Production. Roccoberton has a BA from Montclair State College in Speech/Technical Theatre and an MFA from The University of Connecticut in Puppet Arts.
Tyler has been working as a professional performer based in NYC for the last 24 years (living in CT since 2000.) His career has seen him in regional theater, off-Broadway, the small screen, the silver screen and now digital screens as a puppeteer, actor/singer, and voice artist (search for him on IMDB). Mr. Bunch received an Emmy for his work as creative producer on the children's literacy program Word World and was nominated for a directing Emmy for another PBS program: It's A Big, Big World. Feel free to binge his latest work on Netflix as Hugo in Julie's Greenroom. A practicing and professional improviser, Tyler is thrilled to be returning to the O'Neill in. "Let's find the diamonds in your coal mine ... er ... mind."
Recognized as one of the foremost theatre artists on the international stage, Ronnie Burkett has been credited with creating some of the world’s most elaborate and provocative puppetry. Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes was formed in 1986 and has stimulated an unprecedented adult audience for puppet theatre, continuously playing to great critical and public acclaim on Canada’s major stages, and as a guest company on numerous international tours abroad.
Born and raised in Australia, Melissa Dunphy moved to the United States in 2003 and has since become an award-winning and nationally acclaimed composer specializing in political and theatrical music. Her works include the Gonzales Cantata, featured on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, song cycle Tesla's Pigeon, and What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach?, which has been performed around the country by choirs including Chanticleer and Cantus. Dunphy has also received awards from ASCAP, the Lotte Lehmann Foundation, Boston Metro Opera, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Simon Carrington Chamber Singers, Boston Choral Ensemble, the American Prize, the Chicago Ensemble, and the Secret Opera; commissions include pieces for Ensemble Epomeo, Choral Arts Philadelphia, Opus Anglicanum (UK), mezzo-soprano Maren Montelbano, harpist Shana Norton, Voice of this Generation, the Kennett Symphony Children’s Choir, and Piedmont Children's Choir. Dunphy has been the composer-in-residence for the Immaculata Symphony Orchestra, Volti Choral Arts Lab, and the Volti Choral Institute, and is currently the composer-in-residence of the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. Dunphy is based in Philadelphia with her husband, Matt, where she frequently composes for theater; the Dunphys are the owners and developers of the Hannah Callowhill Stage, a new performance venue which they hope to open in 2017, and they also play together in the rock band Up Your Cherry. She is also an accomplished actor, recognized in Philadelphia as "unquestionably the city's leading Shakespeare ingénue," [Philadelphia Inquirer]; in 2014, her solo performance in the Robin Malan play iHamletearned her a Falstaff Award nomination from PlayShakespeare, and in 2015 she appeared as Puck in Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre's A Midsummer Night's Dream and played solo amplified viola in the Opera Philadelphia new commission ANDY: A Popera.
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. James’s one man show Lunatic Cunning was awarded “Best in Festival” for the 2013 P of A national festival as well as the Jim Henson award for innovation in puppetry and a UNIMA citation of excellence in 2014.
Alice Therese Gottschalk built her first marionette at the age of sixteen. She is now teaching as a guest professor at several Universities such as the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Stuttgart and the University of Education in Heidelberg. Alice studied many years with Professor Albrecht Roser, as well as at the acting school Ernst-Busch in Berlin, and the University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart, Germany where she received her Diploma for Puppetry. Alice is travelling with her own shows throughout Germany and the World. She also directs, performs and designs for other companies (i.e. the State Theatre of Stuttgart).
World-renowned marionette artist, is best known for his work in the 3-time Academy Award nominated film Being John Malkovich and giving life to “China Girl” for Disney’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Phillip’s career has featured nightclub performances at: The Lido, Paris, Casino De Monte Carlo, Monaco, Magic Castle, Hollywood, Hansa Vareite Theater, Hamburg, Georgspalast Variete Theater, Hannover. His television appearances include: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Le Plus Grande Cabaret Du Monde (France), Variete (Chile). His puppetry skills have enhanced many theatrical shows: Busker Alley with Tommy Tune, That's Christmas with Sandy Duncan, Christmas with Fiends & Nabors with Jim Nabors, It’s Magic with Harry Anderson, The Road to Hollywood directed by Walter Bobby, Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty by Dan Graham. His work is in constant demand at international festivals in Japan, S. Korea, Norway, Ireland, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Canada. Phillip’s show SUSPENDED ANIMATION has appeared on more than 50 luxury cruise ships worldwide.
Kurt Hunter is a Minneapolis-based puppeteer best known for his innovative solo marionette work. His introduction to marionettes was a performance by Tony Urbano’s company at the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts in 1975 during a family vacation. While attending Washington University in St. Louis he performed regularly with Bob Kramer’s Marionnettes, including a television special and several performances of Peter and the Wolf with the St. Louis Symphony.
He has designed and built puppets at the Minneapolis Children’s Theatre Company and performed with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre. As a solo marionette artist he has performed with the Minneapolis Chamber Symphony and the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra. For Open Eye Figure Theatre he has constructed marionettes for A Prelude to Faust and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and was a featured performer in three “Toy Theatre After Dark” festivals. He has studied with marionette masters Phillip Huber and Albrecht Roser. He is a frequent workshop leader in marionette construction and performance. In 2008 he received an UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in Puppetry for Sock Puppet Serenade.
Martin Kettling is currently the General Manager at the Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte. In 2010, Martin was part of the team at The O'Neill which was awarded the Special Tony Award for Regional Theatre. His work there included literary management, dramaturgy, teaching and Google Apps Script developer. As a dramaturg, he has worked on new plays with Rachel Axler, Rebecca Gilman, Lauren Gunderson, Jennifer Haley, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Gregory Moss, Ursula Rani-Sarma, and Anne Washburn. He has also supported the development of work by Julia Cho, Nilo Cruz, Jason Grote, and Jeff Whitty. At Arena Stage in Washington, DC, he assisted the world premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s Passion Play, and served as writer’s assistant to Moisés Kaufman on 33 Variations. Credits in puppetry include working as dramaturg for Leslie Cararra-Rudolph, and presenting his trunk show Air Piracy in Steppenwolf’s Garage . Martin has worked internationally at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the International Chekhov Festival in Moscow, the University of Passau, Germany, and helped found the Baltic Playwrights Conference. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University and serves as an emeritus member of the Board of Directors for The Ruckus Theater in Chicago.
Puppeteer, Director, and Master Puppet Builder - Jim’s puppeteering skills brought him to the attention of Jim Henson, who engaged him to perform on Sesame Street, Little Muppet Monsters, the Muppet Meeting films, and assorted Muppet specials. Jim has also puppeteered extensively on Between the Lions, Bear and the Big Blue House, Book of Pooh, Johnny and the Sprites for the Disney channel, No Strings International, and the new PBS series Time Machine Guitar. His talents as a performer/puppet coordinator have brought to life an impressive list of commercials, such as the Wise Potato Chip owl, Ken-L-Ration Smorgasburger dog food, Post Crispy Critters cereal, Christmas spots for Bloomingdales, Hess Oil, Pepsi, and he now once again animates the bear for Snuggle Fabric Softener. As a partner in 3/Design Studio, Jim designs and builds puppets and specializes in creating mechanisms and special effects for such commercials as the invisible man for Mirinda, angel wings for Coronet’s Angel Soft Bath Tissue, and effects for features such as Little Monsters and Woody Allen’s Alice. He recently rebuilt many of the mechanisms and characters for Disney’s Muppets. As 3/Design’s principal performer/puppet director, Jim performs many of the characters, and was Batly on Eureeka’s Castle.
Puppet Artist Tim Lagasse, who most recently worked on ABC’s The Muppets, and starred as Crash on Disney XD’s Crash and Bernstein, has been entertaining audiences with his unusual skill sets for almost 30 years.
Lagasse designed and fabricated the puppets for Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Room and was a featured performer and director on PBS’ It’s a Big Big World!, Disney’s Johnny and the Sprites, and Nick Jr’s Oobi, among others. His creation of a series of short puppet films for the award-winning PBS children’s series Between the Lions garnered him three Daytime Emmy nominations.
A graduate of the University of Connecticut with a BFA in Puppet Arts, Tim was the first student to receive the Jim Henson Memorial Prize in Puppetry. He has also received a Broadcast Design Silver Award and a Union International de la Marionette Citation of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry.
Lisa Lichtenfels began her education studying traditional oil painting at the Carl Sanders School of Art in Erie, Pennsylvania. As a high school student she was given a scholarship to attend the Governor's School of Art as a painter and printmaker. In 1980 she graduated from the Philadelphia College of Art with bachelor’s degrees in illustration and film. While in college she joined the independent filmmaking movement and produced a short animated feature called "The Disco." When Eric Larson saw the film, he invited her to be an apprentice animator at the Disney Studios where she worked on The Fox and the Hound, and The Black Cauldron. While at Disney, she became interested in animatronics and worked to develop movable "maquettes" with internal skeletons and flexible nylon skin. She took a "brief vacation" from Disney to explore the potentials of this new medium and has been working as a soft sculptor ever since. As well as being known for her realistic fabric sculptures, she is also a puppet artisan and designer, teacher and lecturer, costumer, graphic artist, digital illustrator, and photographer. She currently works in her studio in Springfield, Massachusetts. http://lisalichtenfels.net/
Born and raised in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Jane’s love of the theater started at an early age, but really took off when she went to college and performed in West Side Story and starred in Elizabeth the Queen. It wasn’t until she found her home in southeastern Connecticut that she discovered her love for teaching theater and the fine arts. Jane has appeared with Flock Theatre of New London as Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible, Lady Macbeth, Leonata in Much Ado About Nothing, Baptista in The Taming of the Shrew, and as Ariel (voice and puppeteer) in The Tempest. She has written the book and co-written the lyrics for an original musical, On The Wire. Since 1979 Jane has been the Director of Theatre at The Williams School (a college preparatory school established in 1891) in New London, Connecticut. She was the recipient of The Williams School Outstanding Teacher Award in 2009. Theater and teaching are her passions. As a teacher, she incorporates the Sanford Meisner techniques, the movement and voice work of Arthur Lessac, improvisation based on the work of Del Close and Charna Halpern, tabletop and found object puppetry, and rapier and dagger. Jane has worked at the National Puppetry Conference for eight years and is thrilled to return as the Resident Company Manager for a fourth year.
Mervyn is a theatre director and puppetry specialist. Now developing work with his company Significant Object, he was involved in the creative team of the National Theatre of Great Britain & Handspring’s War Horse from its first workshop, also appearing in the show at the NT and directing casts in London, New York, Toronto and Berlin. Other puppet design and direction includes: Circus 1903 (The Works, world tour), Stiller (Residenz Theater Munich, also co-director); The James Plays (National Theatre of Scotland & NT); Crow (Handspring UK, also director), Die Brüder Löwenherz (Schauspielhaus Zürich), Siegfried and Die Walküre (Opera National du Rhin); Appreciate (Sir Paul McCartney), Great Expectations and The Comedy of Errors (RSC); The Odyssey (Lyric Hammersmith, Bristol Old Vic); Get Santa! (Royal Court); The Secret Garden (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Rep); The Thief of Baghdad (Royal Opera House); Unfolding Andersen for theatre-rites / British Library; James and the Giant Peach at Bolton Octagon (MEN award-winner); and work for the Young Vic and the National Theatre Studio. He has directed productions at theaters including the National Theatre (Cottesloe), BAC, Theatre Royal Plymouth, NVT (Norway), Finborough, and the Bloomsbury Festival. His books include The Horse’s Mouth, and The Journey of The Tall Horse. He was awarded an Arts Foundation Fellowship 2010 for his work in puppetry. This year he is working as Artist in Residence at the Centre for the History of Emotions, Queen Mary's College, University of London, with support from the Leverhulme Trust.
Has been a professional puppeteer since discovering that it was the perfect link between acting and sculpture. A 1974 graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, he has worked for Nicolo Marionettes, Addis Williams, Bob Brown, Paul Ashley, Bil Baird, Jim Henson, and for five seasons of Spitting Image in England. As a puppeteer on Sesame Street since 1981 he has won Emmys for his characters Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey the Worm, and those Yip-yip Martians. During his spare time he performed the Cat in the Hat on the Nickelodeon series The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. His company, Hairy Edge Productions, has designed/performed Allegra’s Window and Blue’s Room on Nickelodeon and Oobi on Noggin. Teaching has become an important aspect of his professional life as the senior puppet coordinator for Sesame International, hiring and training puppeteers for productions in Canada, Mexico, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, and Ireland. Film credits include Follow That Bird, Muppets Take Manhattan, Elmo in Grouchland, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Producers. In 1982, Martin designed, built, and performed the plant in the original off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors for which he received a Drama Desk and an LA Drama Critics Award. Martin also designed for the production of Frogs at Lincoln Center, and two productions with orchestra for Carnegie Hall. Martin also designed and built puppets for a live production of Nickelodeon’s Go Diego, Go!.
Jim Rose, son of Rufus and Margo Rose, first performed with marionettes in 1943 in the Rose production of Rip Van Winkle. He has performed with his own hand puppets since 1947, when he saw Burr Tillstrom's Puppeteers of America Festival performance of Kukla and Ollie in St. George and the Dragon. Jim worked with his parents and with Martin and Olga Stevens on several film and TV productions including the WGN-TV Peabody Award-winning The Blue Fairy, and the Stevens-Rose film The Toymaker. He graduated from Antioch College in 1956. While a student there, he appeared in over 40 plays of which 14 were by William Shakespeare. At the Yale School of Drama where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1963, he created puppets for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream and for adaptations of two of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Mr. Rose taught Drama, Art and English in high schools in Chicago and in Connecticut from 1956 until 1960. He taught for two years in the Theater Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and for 19 years at Antioch College. He has also led numerous workshops at Puppeteers of America Festivals and has taught in the Rose Marionette Workshop at the National Puppetry Conference, held at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut. Since 1982, Mr. Rose has presented his traditional puppets in annual 18th century fairs in The Fair at New Boston near Springfield, Ohio, at The Faire at the Forks in Chatham, Ontario, at the Trail of History in McHenry County, Illinois, and at George Washington's Mount Vernon in Virginia.
Richard Termine attended the University of Connecticut and completed his M.F.A. in Puppetry in 1978 with a staging of de Ghelderode's The Death of Dr. Faust. In 1980 he began his association with The Jim Henson Company as a puppet designer and builder for a variety of Muppet productions. For Sesame Street he designed and built the characters of Placido Flamingo and Wolfgang the Seal; his design work on the show was honored with an Emmy Award in 1987. As director and teacher, he taught with Jim Henson at the International Institute of Puppetry in Charleville-Mezieres, France in the summer of 1987, and has been featured as an artist-in-residence at various colleges including the University of Maryland, California State University Summer Arts and The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. Termine also served as the Associate Director of the Jim Henson Legacy Foundation for three years, producing an educational video series entitled Muppet Stuff, The Annotated Work of Jim Henson. Since 1987 he has served as a trustee of The Jim Henson Foundation and is currently its vice-president.
From 1992 to 2001, Richard Termine was the Artistic Director of the O'Neill Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Richard's own puppet productions have been presented in New York at HERE, at Arts at St. Ann's and at The International Festival of Puppet Theater. His production of Nikolai Gogol's Diary of a Madman, developed at the O'Neill, was presented at the 2000 New York International Fringe Festival and was featured at the 2001 Puppeteers of America Festival in Tampa, Florida. This production received a UNIMA Citation for Excellence in 2002. Since 2002 Richard has coordinated the Emerging Artists Projects at the National Puppetry Conference and in 2010 co-directed (with fellow O’Neill Artists Marianne Kubick and Lenny Pinna) the O'Neill 20 Year Remix a performance piece celebrating the 20th anniversary of the National Puppetry Conference.
While working on the set of Sesame Street in the mid-1980s, Termine began photographing behind the scenes. This work led to a new career as a performing arts photographer. He has photographed many of the world’s leading performers and puppet artists. Currently, Richard is a photographer for the culture desk of The New York Times. His other clients include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Opera and The Brooklyn Academy of Music. His photography has seen in numerous publications including Time, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, American Theatre, and is featured in the book Sesame Street: A 40 Year Celebration. He has been the in house photographer for Sesame Street since 1988. An exhibition of his work Puppets Through the Lens: The Photography of Richard Termine is currently touring the US and includes a number of National Puppetry Conference images.
Fred Thompson has been on the staff of the O'Neill Puppetry Conference since 1996 where he taught marionette construction with Margo and Jim Rose, subsequently took on the duties of Resident Craftsman, and this year will again assist James Rose.
He has been involved in puppetry since about 1947 after seeing Rufus and Margo Rose perform their marionette show at his elementary school. As a young man, Thompson explored classical ballet, modern dance and studied sculpture at the University of Hartford under the guidance of Sheila Solomon and Lloyd Glasson, N.A. While never straying very far from puppetry, he managed to pursue a career in ballet, theater, and arts management, working as stage and production manager for the Hartford Ballet Company, properties craftsman at Hartford Stage Company and Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, Connecticut and as technical director for the Quick Center for the Arts at Fairfield University. Thompson has taught technical production methods for the Yale School of Drama Graduate Degree Program, and stage craft at Fairfield University.
He has created a number of puppets and masks for Hartford Stage Company, Hartford Ballet, Yale Repertory Theater, the Juilliard School and for FLOCK Theater.
Thompson’s later work with Rufus and Margo Rose included three full-length marionette films for TV (1964), performances at EXPO '67- Montreal, a TV pilot for Marriott, and local performances and exhibits. He mounted a retrospective exhibit of the Roses' work at Connecticut College in 1976 for the Puppeteers of America National Festival.
He has studied with Albrecht Roser, and Ingrid Höffer at two String Academies at the University of Connecticut Puppetry Arts program, and toured or performed with David Syrotiak, Meredith Bixby, Bob and Judy Brown and Allan Stevens.
He has conducted workshops in marionette construction at several regional and national festivals, and at the UConn Puppetry Arts Program and continues to research construction and control techniques.
Thompson has authored several articles on technical aspects of puppet construction and puppet history. His work has appeared in Theater Crafts Magazine, The Puppetry Journal, Connoisseur Magazine, and on the web.
DERRON WOOD is a graduate of Connecticut College, he has also trained with the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center and attended the Leningrad State Institute of Music, Theatre and Cinematography in Leningrad as part of the National Theater Institute's Russian program. From 1986 to 1989 he studied Shakespeare under Morris Carnovsky at Connecticut College and the National Theater Institute. During the past twenty years he has directed numerous productions in and around New England, including shows at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival and Off-Broadway. An early production, Home Street Home, at the Boston Center for the Arts' Cyclorama Theatre focused Derron's attention on the unique ability of puppet theatre to document experience, and communicate with the audience. As he said at the time, “We use puppets and merge personalities into another world to create different conflicts and characters.” As he continued to work with actors and puppets in various theatrical vehicles he became more and more committed to the use of all types of puppets as a means of communicating with the audience. Exploring the boundaries between actors and puppets -- finding that magic moment of communication between actor and audience -- communicating classic complexities of the human condition in ways a contemporary audience can understand -- and ultimately to enhance understanding -- is the goal of Derrons' work with Flock Theatre.
Derron is the Director for the Chorus of Westerly's 12th Night celebration, reviewed as one of the greatest 12th Night celebrations in the world. This unique production integrates 100 stage performers with the 200 member chorus of Westerly, mixing in Giant Puppets, professional Opera singers, with Professional Actors to create a truly unique form of theatre. As the principal director of Flock Theatre's Shakespeare in the Arboretum festival he has directed Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest. His use of puppets in The Tempest enhanced the audiences' enjoyment through highlighting the fun and humor often lost in modern Shakespearean productions. It also allowed the audience to participate in the magic of Ariel in a wholly new way. Derron has been a Connecticut's Master Teaching Artist since 1995, awarded by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Puppet artist Hua Hua Zhang, born in China, was trained as a classical rod puppet performer by The Beijing Art Academy and performed with China Puppet Art Troupe, where she received “Best Performer” from the Chinese Ministry of Culture. She earned an MFA in Puppet Art from the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts in 2000. Zhang formed Visual Expressions in 2002, a performance company committed to using Asian and Western puppet art. Zhang has received numerous awards for her original works, including the Best Creativity award of Butterfly Dreams at The 21st UNIMA Congress & World Puppet Festival, and the Rocky Award from Dance/UAS Philadelphia. In 2013, Zhang opened her first exhibition Dream Journeys at the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. The exhibition straddled the boundaries between black-box stage and gallery, exploring puppetry as sculpture, installation, and performance. Zhang has been invited to teach at several universities, professional dance and theater companies, and the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference Pre-Conference Intensives.