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Puppeteers of America

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Each award presented by the Puppeteers of America is a unique and distinct honor. The awards recognize extraordinary contributions to of the art of puppetry and to the community of puppeteers.

The President’s Award is the only honor in USA puppetry that recognizes a body of work or entire career in puppetry. It is a lifetime achievement award. The recipients include: Jim Henson, Bil Baird, Burr Tillstrom, Julie Taymor, Peter Schumann, Frank Ballard, Rufus and Margo Rose.

Two awards were established to recognize and encourage service to the puppetry community:

The Directors Award (formally Trustees) honors service to the Puppeteers of America.
The Puppeteers of America Award recognizes service to the art of puppetry from outside the immediate field.

Three newer awards are named for distinguished artists who are inspirational role models:

The Jim Henson Award for Innovation
The George Latshaw Award for writing
The Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin Award for education

Awards are presented every two years at National Puppetry Festivals. Any member of Puppeteers of America can make a nomination for an award.

Click here to make a Nomination

Past Award recipients

2017 Awards


ALAN COOK’s passion for preserving history and assembling an amazing collection of puppet memorabilia is alone worthy of recognition. Yet Alan also has a well-rounded resume of involvement with puppetry. He has served Puppeteers of America as a board member, artistic director and exhibition director. He has performed with Sid and Marty Krofft Productions, Les Poupees de Paris, Clokey Productions and The Muppets; was cofounder of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry and so much more.

His new book will be available at the 2017 national festival. “Alan Cook: A Puppet Collector’s Odyssey as told to Jacqueline Marks with Dimitri Carter”


KAREN BACKES joined the Puppeteers of America in 1977. After using her puppets in puppet shows, she designed and received a copyright on The Backes Puppet Pattern Set, and took the pattern sets and puppets to regional festivals. In 2002, she was the registrar for the Mason City, Iowa, Regional Fest. In 2003, she attended the Tahlequah, Oklahoma, National Fest, and joined the Board of Trustees where she was voted in as Vice President in charge of regions and guilds. After two terms, she left the Board, but continued as an appointed officer of guilds and regions. She continues to do the job, and has done it for 14 years.


NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY AND THE NASHVILLE PUBLIC LIBRARY FOUNDATION - Puppetry has long had a home at the Nashville Public Library, dating back to 1938 when a young Tom Tichenor performed a marionette version of Puss in Boots for children at the library. (The year 1938 also happens to be just a year after the Puppeteers of America was founded.) That began a 50-year collaboration at the library for Tichenor, who is also known for creating the puppets for “Carnival” on Broadway.

To this day, puppetry is alive and well at the library with a dedicated performance stage, exhibit areas and staff of puppeteers. Even further, the Nashville Public Library and the Nashville Public Library Foundation expanded its role with puppetry by staging the wildly successful Nashville International Puppet Festival (2008, 2011, 2013, 2016).


Over the last three years, KATIE CAMPBELL’s work has grown in depth, boldness, and technique. From her Jim Henson Fellowship-funded shadow puppet adaptation of The Ugly Duckling for AACCT to her shadow rendition of a friend’s battle with cancer for the American Cancer Society Lip Synch Battle, Katie’s dynamic uses of puppetry reflect a talented artist who maintains a child’s sensibility. The worlds she creates on the stage are worlds of color, energy, movement, laughter, and pure delight – worlds where puppets, shadows, and audience members share a vibrant imaginative life.


CLAIRE RITZLER: Claire has been involved in puppetry in education for over 30 years ; she has been a presenter for many Professional Days for the Teaching Artist and Therapist, Combining her two favorite areas – education and puppetry – became a focus when she later served as the Education Director at the Center for Puppetry Arts. She developed educational puppetry programs for preschool, elementary, middle school and high school students. She was the program and education director at Young Audiences of Atlanta, a teaching artist for Alliance Theatre, and co-director of Artistic Endeavors.



ERIC BASS is recognized as a leading creator of serious adult puppet theatre. His company, the Sandglass Theater, has toured 24 countries performing in theatres and festivals. In 1996 Sandglass opened a 60 seat theatre in Putney, Vermont. Sandglass began the Puppets in the Green Mountain International Festival in 1997 where they have presented International artists from more than 18 countries. In 2001 Eric founded an annual 3 week intensive training workshop in puppet theatre affiliated with Marlboro College Summer Theatre Institute.


Puppeteer and teacher FRED THOMPSON, a mainstay of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Puppetry Conference, first saw Rufus and Margo Rose perform in 1947, and has had a long and illustrious career in Connecticut as a teacher and maker of dance, theater, and puppetry.

Fred’s involvement with PofA goes back to the 1950s:

  • He served as Playboard editor from 1999 to 2010 and as membership chair from 2006-2013
  • He has served his region and his guild and is a generous teacher and an expert on his mentors — Rufus and Margo Rose


BLAIR THOMAS is an extraordinary puppeteer who brought the International Puppet Festival to Chicago last year and continues to do imaginative, creative puppet performances. The Chicago Festival was a tremendous effort and success. He has a dedicated crew of puppeteers who support and believe in his inventive vision, as he continues his mission of bringing to life work for audiences of all ages.


MARTIN ROBINSON began in the business as a member of the Bil Baird Puppet Company and has been on the staff of the Jim Henson Company since 1981. His roles have included Mr. Snuffleupagus, Telly Monster, Slimey and many more. Stage credits include designing, building and performing “Audrey 2” off-Broadway in “Little Shop of Horrors” and the design of Stephen Sondheim’s “Frogs.”


EILEEN BLUMENTHAL has a Ph.D. in history of the theater from Yale and M.A. and B.A. degrees in English and American literature from Brown. Her specialties include contemporary experimental theater and traditional Asian theater and puppet theatre. At Rutgers, she has taught history of theater, theater criticism, introduction to graduate study in theater, and modern experimental theater.

Books include: Puppetry: A World History, Julie Taymor, Playing With Fire (with Julie Taymor)


WENDY PASSMORE-GODFREY has worked tirelessly for children, finding ways to make puppetry accessible to all. Her dedication over the last 25 years to learning through the art of puppetry has transformed thousands of young lives, giving them a creative platform to better understand themselves and the world they live in.



JON LUDWIG is an accomplished performer, director, and theater designer who has worked in Atlanta, New York, and abroad. He is the Center’s Artistic Director and has worked at the organization since its inception. In children’s television, Ludwig wrote, designed, and puppeteered the shadow puppet segments for the Disney Channel/Henson Production show Bear in the Big Blue House. In 2005, along with Mitchell Kriegman and Dean Gordon, Ludwig received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Director for The Book of Pooh episode “The Great Honey Pot/Paging Piglet.” He holds a B.A. in Theater from Chicago’s Columbia College and is a member of The Directors Guild of America and ASCAP. At the Center, Ludwig has written and directed 33 distinctive shows. His family productions educate and appeal to children and adults. Most recently, he adapted and directed Ruth and the Green Book, based on the award-winning children’s book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey. In 2010, he adapted and directed the immensely popular Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer®, based on the classic television special.

Ludwig is also recognized as an innovator in the field of adult puppet theater. In 1980, he co-founded the Center’s Xperimental Puppetry Theatre, a program which continues to provide funding and support for new puppet works for adults. His production Safe as Milk was featured at two Puppeteers of America festivals and the Henson International Festival of Puppetry between 1992-1994. His adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, commissioned and produced for the 1996 Olympic Arts Festival, was heralded as one of the highlights of the Festival by art critics, including Newsweek magazine. Ludwig has also collaborated with national and international artists as well as numerous theatrical companies.

Ludwig has served as Artist in Residence at the National Puppetry Conference, Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and Emory University. He has taught workshops on puppetry for the Puppeteers of America Festival, the University of Texas Drama Department, University of Maryland, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of America National Conference, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture, and NYC’s New Dramatists.

His work was exhibited at Revealing Roots, 1994 and Breaking Boundaries, 1993, at the Lincoln Center Library for the Performing Arts, New York City, a group exhibit of puppets made and designed by artists selected by The Jim Henson Foundation in conjunction with the Henson International Festival of Puppet Theater.

Eight of Ludwig’s productions have received Citations of Excellence from UNIMAUSA, and in 2007 he was one of the first recipients of the Arts Medal from Atlanta’s Charles Loridans Foundation for his contributions to the Atlanta arts community. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has lauded Ludwig as “the most consistently inventive theater artist working in Atlanta today.”


FRED PUTZ has written and published articles in the Chicagoland Puppetry Guild Newsletter ‘Puppet Patter.’ His articles on early puppeteers have been most informative and represent a great deal of research and writing of oft-neglected puppeteers’ history. Through these articles we can look back for ideas and inspiration and these essays by Fred give us the materials from which young and old puppeteers alike benefit.


IVAN OWEN (American Puppeteer) & RICHARD VAN AS (South African Carpenter), for using puppetry mechanics to design plans for an affordable prosthetic hand that can be downloaded by anyone around the world and built with at the aid of a 3-D Printer.

Matthew Garibaldi, director of orthotics and prosthetics in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of California, says that making sure a prosthetic device fits is essential for it to work well. And there are limited options for pediatric prosthetics, Garibaldi says, because there aren’t many kids with upper-extremity amputations. That’s one reason a device like Robohand is so appealing, he says. “Its primary function is to decrease manufacturing costs and increase productivity.” “The timeliness of this technology couldn’t be better,” Garibaldi says.

Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis says “Normally they don’t make prosthetics for kids, because they grow out of them like sneakers, and they can cost $10,000 – but the Robohand costs $5 in plastic. So it changes the whole game.”


JAMES GODWIN - Lunatic Cunning was originally commissioned and presented by Dixon Place with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs and private funds from The Jim Henson Foundation, The Peg Santvoord Foundation and The Jerome Foundation. Now, James Godwin and his team brings Lunatic Cunning to 2013 National Puppetry Festival. James Godwin is a puppeteer and actor whose television credits include The Muppets, The Daily Show, Chapelle’s Show, It’s a Big Big World The Book of Pooh, Between the Lions, and Oobi to name a few. On the New York Theater Scene, James Godwin is best known as the founder of the puppet troupe The Elementals. When not on stage or building puppets, he can be found teaching puppetry to college students and was a Guest Artist at the 2013 National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.


NANCY SANDER, M’EL REUM and KURT HUNTER of PLAYBOARD MAGAZINE have never failed in their commitment to provide news and tips for every issue of Playboard. They gather material and assemble it four times a year (originally six times a year) so that our readers have some idea of the happenings in our Guilds, activities of individual members, and useful tips.

Nancy Sander has written her popular column “EUREKA!!” for over thirty years. It was, originally, a part of the Puppetry Journal then eventually became an addition to Playboard. Nancy provides tips to puppeteers of all skill levels on all phases of puppetry arts.

M’El Reum has been contributing to the Puppeteers of America for many years. She originally wrote a column for the Puppetry Journal titled “Reum-er Has It!” about the goings-on of PofA members then migrated to Playboard later on, writing about Guild happenings for then editor Paul Eide, calling her column “The Guild File.” M’El currently composes “Reum …with a view”.

Kurt Hunter was asked to fill in the Playboard gap left by the passing of “Punch’s Mailbox” editor, Rod Young. He and M’El agreed to switch positions with M’El back at her old job and Kurt taking on “The Guild Connection.” Kurt has been writing for Playboard since 2002.

The real work of Playboard is on the shoulders of these three dedicated individuals who have created dozens of articles of interest for the membership about the membership.


CAROL STERLING, NYC. Carol is a past PofA Education consultant for Puppetry in Ed, She has been active in the field of Puppetry in Education for the past 30 years and received a Fulbright award to teach in Uganda at the University of Kampala. Carol was also a guest speaker on Puppetry in Education in Spain last year and has been a strong advocate for PIE for her work at the Brooklyn Arts council.



NICK COPPOLA – “Nick Coppola is widely revered in contemporary American puppetry for launching many professional puppetry careers while maintaining high standards in traditional marionette theatre. Coppola is not only an esteemed director, writer, and brilliant marionette performer, he has mastered the the fine arts of teamwork, cooperation and collaboration.”

Nick is the perfect mentor. He wants the production to shine. Each detail of puppet design, costume, music and script show get careful attention. Nick lets his shows and performers hold center stage, with Nick quietly in the background avoiding attention

Nick joined P of A in 1952 and was hired by the Suzari company in 1954 and rose quickly to become the artistic director. After serving in the army, Suzari’s Ruth Waxman formed a new company based on Nick’s talent. The Nicolo Marionettes was an actively touring troupe from 1962-1978.

In 1980 Nick founded The Puppetworks. In 1987, Puppetworks became a permanent theatre in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn and Puppetworks is still actively presenting shows.

He’s written a few articles for the Journal, and wore a few Organizational hats:

  • Served on Board in ‘80s, was Consultant’s Chair, and on Journal Editorial Board
  • Chairman of Endowment fund Committee
  • M.C. at National Festival at Bryn Mawr

During the ‘80s, Nick also taught Puppetry at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn and The Children’s Aid Society, Manhattan, and was part of the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater as puppeteer and builder and costumer.

Perhaps Nick’s greatest contribution to the art of puppetry is as a role model, of quiet professional commitment to entertain his audience, and to work with others with charm and grace. His love of people and love puppetry have enriched the art of puppetry and the careers of many puppeteers.

Bob Nathanson accepted the award on Mr. Coppolla’s behalf.


FRED SAUERS – Fred Sauers recently retired as the coordinator of the P of A Liability Insurance Program. In fact, Fred developed the insurance program that all puppeteers can buy into and has served our professional puppeteers since with good humor and prompt service.

Fred has spent most of his 82 years enjoying artistic pursuits. He is an accomplished stage, radio and movie actor (look for his 3-second appearance in The Dark Knight), make-up artist, set designer, wood-worker, sculptor, potter, and puppet-maker, and has explored magic, sewing, weaving, and jewelry-making.

He attended Grinnell College in Iowa and earned an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He entered the field of data processing at ITT-Kellogg and was a pioneer in Electronic Data Interchange with Sears Roebuck. He retired from IBM in 1998.

Fred’s interest in puppetry coincided with his interest in his future wife, a puppeteer. Together they founded Roberts Marionettes in 1982 and co-produced eight touring productions. Fred is Technical Director for the company and has built more than 100 hand-carved, lifelike marionettes and bunraku puppets and designed and built several puppet stages. Fred and his wife are long-time members of the Chicagoland Puppetry Guild, have been Registrars for many regional and national festivals and Great Lakes Potlatches, and Fred served as Treasurer of the Great Lakes Region for several years.


KAREN KONNERTH – Karen Konnerth is Founder and artistic director of Calliope puppets in New Orleans where she writes shows, designs and builds puppets in a wide variety of techniques, and performs with live voice, presenting either solo or with accompanying musician, or other collaborator. Calliope Puppets have been known for high quality programs in puppet theater since its founding in 1976. Presenting in theaters, museums, festivals, and schools in urban and in remote communities in the United States, South and Central America, Europe, and Asia, Calliope Puppets invite family audiences on explorations of folklore, culture, and fantasy to bring imagination to learning.

Karen is also a specialist in the integration of the arts across the curriculum, creating formats in active learning successful in motivating enthusiasm in students towards comprehension and retention of core content. Dedicated to educational advancement and support for children, families, and teachers, Karen engages students in meaningful learning as well as challenging and inspiring creative thinking on current issues affecting our education and world communities.

Karen presents workshops regionally, nationally, and internationally. Her Calliope Puppets also have presented in festivals and tours in Peru, Argentina, M̩xico, Guatemala, Spain, and Puerto Rico. Closer to home, in their New Orleans studio space six blocks from the Mississippi River, Calliope Puppet Center shares connections with the local community, as it hosts workshops for children, teachers, and other adults, including collaborative works with community members and visiting puppeteers. Most recently, Karen has been involved in the writing and implementation of arts in education residencies for Pre-K through grade 5 in a variety of curriculum areas including social studies and reading comprehension strategies, all using puppetry in active learning formats. Karen was touring during the festival and was unable to attend РJean Kuecher received the award on her behalf.



ALLIE SCOLLON – At the age of seven Allie Scollon started turning her dolls into marionettes and making up shows. Allie’s childhood fascination became the passion and profession of a lifetime. Her commitment to the art of puppetry grew as she did. She researched and taught herself all she could about building, costuming, manipulating, and writing for puppets.

Allie married and soon her husband got involved with the marionette building. Even as a busy young mom, Allie found time to perform original puppet shows for birthday parties and organizations. In the late 1950’s when a new TV station opened, she saw an opportunity and became star of her own TV show, The Bar J Ranch in Syracuse, NY. In the 1960’s the family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. With growth of the enclosed shopping mall Allie realized that when people gathered at mega-shopping complexes, they needed to be entertained. She and her husband founded Scollon’s Marionettes, Inc. In a rented storefront they produced four new marionette shows and developed portable staging especially for shopping center promotions. The company hit the road touring across the US with marionette and hand puppet shows.

Dozens more people were trained as puppeteers to meet the demand for performances and over the years, she has personally trained hundreds of people in the art of puppet making and performing. Costume character shows were added to the mix in the late ‘60’s. By the mid 1970’s the costume character business had also grown to include creating costume mascots and cartoon characters for theme parks, sports teams and companies around the world.

In 1982, the company moved to Chapin, South Carolina, just outside Columbia. Allie returned to her roots and established a non-profit theatre dedicated to the art of puppetry, The Columbia Marionette Theatre. With a Board of directors, a slate of crowd-pleasing shows, a rented warehouse converted into a theatre, funding from her own pocket, her son John and a small staff of volunteers, she opened the doors to the theatre in the autumn of 1988. The theatre was a hit.

The next step was acquiring a permanent home for the theatre. Allie didn’t want to renovate an existing space. Her vision was to design and build a marionette theatre from the ground up. The new home of the Columbia Marionette Theatre opened its doors on May 11, 1995.

For tens of thousands of audience members, Allie Scollon is responsible for countless looks of wonder, squeals of laughter and smiling faces She deserves to be recognized for her lifetime of work and commitment to the very first passion of her life. Puppetry. Website:


MARIANNE AND TOM TUCKER – Marianne and Tom Tucker have each served the organization on individual endeavors and often they’ve worked together on projects. Each has presented many workshops in his and her own field of expertise at puppetry festivals regionally and nationally. Tom served on the Board of Puppeteers of America also serving as the president from 1991-1993.

Marianne has served on the Board as well as being a Regional Director for the organization. She’s served as a past chair of the Scholarship committee. They’ve served as the registrars and/or assisted with registration at numerous festivals, including the 2009 Festival. Marianne and Tom pair co-directed the 1995 National Puppeteers of America Festival in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. They are dedicated professionals in the field of puppetry and staunch supporters of this organization, always willing to help out where needed. Website:


BRUCE REGES – When Bruce Reges was growing up with a Mom who was a puppeteer, no one could realize what an impact puppets would have on him and on other lives he touched when he was an adult. Stationed in Iraq, the army assigned Bruce to help rebuild schools in Iraq. An article in the Washington Post set the scene: “The reaction was immediate when Army 1st Sgt. Bruce L. Reges strode into the classroom in the Baghdad suburb of Baqubah, in the volatile Diyala province. At 6-foot-5 and wearing full body armor, Reges, 57, looked fearsome to the schoolchildren.”

As a teacher and a builder and someone who loved kids, Bruce was profoundly upset to be seen as a monster, and began searching for some way to put children at ease. How could he help Iraqi children see American soldiers as friends?He wrote to his puppeteer Mom: “Please make me two hand puppets for my slash pockets I need them ASAP. ” Soon after he wrote: ”Mom, I need as many puppets as you can send, as quickly as possible.” In a short time the non-profit humanitarian organization, “Peace Through Puppets” was born.

In another he wrote: “Hey Mom, The soldiers in our movement team have started to ask for puppets to give and work with. One of them told me how kids are coming up to them and using their hands to make a “puppet” sign. The Iraqi kids are starting to talk about the puppets. They know we are the ones who give them out.” In another e-mail Sgt Reges wrote: “I think of all the things I am involved with here, the puppets seem to create the most joy and genuine affection. Despite war, death, and destruction, some things transcend it all. Thanks again for doing this with me.” Website:


BOB NATHANSON – Bob Nathanson has given us countless laughs over the years. His wit has been a fun addition in his co-hosting many a late night potpourri at a National or regional Festival. He is the humor consultant for our organization and has given numerous workshops on how to write humorously for the puppet theater.

But it doesn’t stop there. He has written a number of articles for the Puppetry Journal relating experiences as a puppeteer, lovingly called “War Stories” to him. He’s also written about how he, and possibly all of us, might suffer “withdrawal” symptoms after having attended a great puppet festival. Always giving his own special humorous take on whatever subject he writes about.

Bob’s most recent accomplishment is the writing and publishing of his book, DIARY OF A DOLL WIGGLER: A Bob’s Eye View into the Wacky Wonderful World of Puppetry. This book relates Bob’s and his wife Elise’s memoirs of how he got into puppetry and happenings from his nearly 30 years of puppetry career. Website:


MATTHEW BERNIER – Matthew Bernier is a registered and board-certified art therapist and puppeteer. He is an Associate Professor in the Graduate Art Therapy Program at Eastern Virginia Medical School. Matthew has extensive experience in therapeutic puppetry especially with cases of child abuse and domestic violence and presently serves on the board of Directors of the American Art Therapy Association. He has lectured and led workshops in the US, Canada and Italy on a variety of topics including: art therapy, domestic violence and therapeutic puppetry. Matthew is a member of MUSE, an educational performing arts troupe of creative arts therapists and has performed “Celebrating the Cycle of Life Through Art, Dance, Music and Poetry many times throughout the United States. He is the co-editor of “Puppetry in Education and Therapy: Unlocking doors to the mind and heart.” He is currently working on a PhD in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education and Social Change at the European Graduate School in Switzerland. He brings knowledge and experience in the area of puppetry in therapy and his expertise gives credibility to this very important aspect of puppetry arts.



BOB BROWN – In 2007 Bob Brown celebrates his 50th year as a professional puppeteer. Early in his career Bob left New Jersey to work with Len & Patsy Piper, and appeared on WKOW in Madison WI. He also worked with The Cole Marionettes. Bob Brown was hired by Bil Baird for the Broadway production of Davy Jones Locker. He toured with Baird to India, Afghanistan, Nepal and Russia. For a time he worked with Jim Henson’s Muppets. In 1965 he designed puppets for, “Barnyard Frolics” published in Woman’s Day Magazine and he developed his trademark felt and styrofoam puppets.

In 1967 Bob was invited to Washington to create the Smithsonian Puppet Theatre. Washington area performances include work at Wolf Trap, 28 years performing with the Baltimore Symphony and White House appearances for Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan. From 1971 to 1975 Bob Brown and his wife and partner, Judy Brown made many appearance on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Bob Brown Puppets have performed with symphony orchestras in Atlanta Baltimore, Detroit, New Jersey, Boston, Sacramento Pittsburgh, and Honolulu. Bob and Judy also made an award winning video Beauregard’s Bottle Puppets.

In 1980 Bob created a traveling production that was performed in conjunction with PofA’s touring exhibit Puppetry Arts & Entertainment. Even with a busy performance schedule he still found time to serve on the board of Puppeteers of America, Puppetry Guild of Greater New York and National Capital Puppetry Guild. His contribution to the art of puppetry includes sharing his experience by training puppeteers for his company and giving countless workshops to aspiring puppeteers locally and nationally. Website:


RANDEL MCGEE – Randel McGee, a long time member of Puppeteers of America has given his time and talents to the organization, helping out at festivals whenever needed, serving as regional director, and serving on various committees. He is great promoter of the organization. He shares his expertise as a puppeteer and story teller with many universities in California. His nominator writes, “Your generous giving of your time and talent is to be commended. Because of your enthusiasm for Puppeteers of America many students have joined the PofA. You are our mentor.” Website:


JARVIS CONSERVATORY – For the past 11 years the Jarvis Conservatory has presented the best in North American Puppet Theatre to the public. Leticia and William Jarvis founded the Jarvis conservatory in 1995 converting an old winery in Napa, California into a 300 seat theatre. The conservatory presents opera, ballet, Zarzuela and puppetry to appreciative audiences with a special outreach to members of the Latino community. The Jarvis Conservatory has presented Griffoul Marionettes from France, and Coad Canada, Grey Seal Puppets, Huber Marionettes, Paul Mesner Puppets, Oregon Shadow Theatre, Nappy’s Puppets and Parasol Puppets. Not every show at the Jarvis Conservatory is a financial success. The Jarvis Family is fully committed to presenting excellent puppet theatre to the residents of the Napa Valley. Website:


BRIAN WINDSOR – Brian Windsor is recognized for his innovative computer work that combines optical motion capture with puppetry. The process developed by Brian Windsor lends itself to giving very complex motions to fairly simple computer generated puppets. He had collaborated with others to develop a very straight forward way to create animation with puppets that would be both cost effective and fairly efficient. He wrote, “the key to the whole process is the puppeteer and how much control he or she can be given over the puppet.” Brian used video game software and joysticks .He also says that “digital puppetry can be integrated into normal puppetry performance. “It’s a new way for puppeteers to express themselves. Children really enjoy seeing these and I let them control the puppets after or ever during the shows.” Website:


STEVE ABRAMS – Steve Abrams has written an incredible number of articles and reviews for Puppetry Journal, Puppetry International, and the Puppetry Today, the international UNIMA magazine. He is associate editor of Puppetry Journal and writes a regular column, Scene East. He contributed the foreword to American Puppetry: Collections History, History, Performance. Steve wrote “A Century of Puppetry” in the PofA Membership Directory, and helped Paul Eide and Alan Cook with The Timeline of American Puppetry. He served as North American Editor for the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Art. He writes clearly and concisely. He researches thoroughly and demonstrates insight as well as knowledge of his subjects. The quality and quantity of his contributions to published work on a wide variety of aspects of the art of puppetry deserve recognition.


JUDITH O’HARE – For the past 18 years Judith O’Hare has organized and led the Puppets: Education Magic Institute (PEMI) for educators, therapists, librarians and hobbyists. The first institute was at the Puppeteers of America festival at MIT 1989. The institute has grown to include participants from many states as well as from Canada and Israel. Judith O’Hare serves as education consultant for Puppeteers of America and is a leader of seminars and workshops for educators at national and regional festivals. She teaches graduate courses at Lesley College, Cambridge MA. Her students find her lessons valuable and easily applied to classroom situations. Judith has worked with students, teachers and puppeteers all over the USA and has also visited China and Kenya. She is active member of the Boston Area Guild of Puppetry. Most recently she co-edited the book Puppetry and Education and Therapy: Unlocking the Doors to the Mind and Heart. The book is a series of essays by puppeteers, educators and therapists. Website:



RENE ZENDEJAS – Rene and his puppet creations have entertained audiences across the country and around the world. He enjoys an unequalled reputation in his field, for his complete mastery of the puppet-maker’s craft, as well as his unique, individual style of showmanship and manipulation. This combination accounts for the truly universal appeal of his productions. Rene began studying performance in Hollywood at the age of seven. When he was 14 he built his first marionette and began an apprenticeship with Bob Baker. After 60 years Rene continues to create beautiful puppets, with painstaking attention to detail. His special style of manipulation, which has become a trademark, keeps him in constant demand, as a performer working in Las Vegas showrooms, on-board luxury cruise ships, and in clubs and cabarets abroad. His work has delighted visitors at Southern California’s Knott’s Berry Farm, the San Diego Zoo and Universal Studios. Television variety credits include Ed Sullivan and Hollywood Palace. His educational program for children, Domingo, enjoyed a run of three years on ABC-TV in Los Angeles, and won a local Emmy award. His creations have been seen on Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, You Bet Your Life and Bill Cosby’s Christmas Special. His puppets appeared in films with Lily Tomlin and Jim Carey. His clients for commercials include Toyota, Continental Airlines, Burger King, Sylvania, Keebler, and Bell Telephone. He animated a Model T car, hamburgers for McDonald’s and the instantly recognizable, Pillsbury Doughboy.

BILL FOSSER – William B. Fosser’s Puppet Production Opera in Focus presents fully staged scenes from operas by Verdi, Puccini, Bizet, Wagner and Gershwin Although the puppet opera takes place on a stage only five feet wide and two feet deep, the illusion of live musical theater prevails. The rod puppets manipulate by puppeteers who are seated below the intricately slotted stage floor. The remarkable sets are designed, built and painted by Mr. Fosser. Paul Guerra conceives and executes all of the beautiful and intricate costumes. Scenes from Aida and Phantom of the Opera and many other classics capture the imagination of a wide range of audiences. Miniature opera with puppets has been a Chicago tradition since 1936. Developed by Ernest Wolf and produced by Frederick Chramer, the first Kungsholm Miniature Opera Theater opened in 1941. Bill Fosser began working at the 208 seat Kungsholm theater at the age of 14 in 1943 and he returned in the 50s and again from 1963-1966 to serve as the director. Kungsholm closed in 1971 but Bill Fosser never gave up on the vision of opera with puppets. Bill’s Opera in Focus was first presented in 1958 while pursuing his career as a motion picture art director and set decorator. Since 1993 Opera in Focus has presented regular seasons at the Rolling Meadows Park District building charming audiences – from the lover of opera to the adult or child simply fascinated by the fine art of puppetry. Website:


JEAN HASSELSCHWERT – Jean served the Puppeteers of America as trustee for three years and then as President for another three years (2001-2004). Jean’s presidency was marked by several important procedural innovations. She spearheaded the development of a Strategic Plan that will act as a roadmap for years to come. She sought wise advice inside and outside the organization so that she could offer helpful suggestions. She also oversaw the creation of new manuals for Regional Directors and Guild Presidents. Jean re-organized the presidential files and improved reporting procedures. She updated the duties of the Trustees, and was always there to help if someone fell behind on a job. While serving as Regional Director the board recognized her artistic abilities and asked Jean design a pin to present to all Trustees as they went out of office. She also created official P. of A. “Thank You” notes and had them printed at her own expense. During her term of office she devoted countless hours to the Puppeteers of America and rarely asked for reimbursement. She treated it like a full time job, and she did it superbly.

JIM MALONE – Jim Malone has served Puppeteers of America as Regional Director, Festival Director, Festival Business Manager, Trustee, President, and as chair of various committees. In 1991 and again in 2003 he arranged for the national festival to be presented at Tahlequah, Oklahoma where Jim is on the theatre faculty. The success of the first Tahlequah festival lead directly to the establishment of PofA’s scholarship program. While serving as President of Puppeteers of America (1993-1996), Jim initiated retreats for the board so that issues of importance could be pondered, discussed, and brainstormed outside of the more formal requirements of board meetings. During his time as President Jim devoted considerable energy to gathering and publishing the Festival Resource Manual a tangible guide to the complex process of running a national festival.


CBS SUNDAY MORNING – For 26 years, Sunday Morning CBS has provided a rare oasis of calm, civilized reflection on network television. Each week 5 million viewers enjoy the arts coverage that is a hallmark of this program. Theater, opera, dance, classical or jazz musicians are often featured subjects. They have a long tradition of celebrating our very eclectic art. In 1983 a crew from Sunday Morning attended the National Festival in Ames, Iowa and produced a wonderful profile of Bil Baird. In their history they have celebrated Jim Henson & the Muppets, Caroll Spinney, Julie Taymor, Avenue Q, Little Shop of Horrors, Howdy Doody and many more. Museum exhibits, performances, and personalities are all treated in exquisite detail. In October they presented a puppetry segment that featured the Puppet Co’s new theater in Glen Echo, Maryland. The host of Sunday Morning is Charles Osgood and the executive producer is Rand Morrison.


GREAT SMALL WORKS – Great Small Works is a puppet company created by a collaborative of extraordinary puppet artists from different backgrounds in New York City. They have worked steadily for years to make the art form of Toy Theatre something innovative and relevant to the world today. Toy theaters became popular in the early 19th century, as cardboard replicas of actual stages. The miniature, two-dimensional, mass-produced theaters became popular entertainment. Great Small has been successful in attracting many new devotees and inspired many puppeteers to experiment with the form. Their annual Toy Theatre Festival is a “must see” event for puppeteers and the public. Since 1993, at seven festivals, hundreds of artists from around the world (Jerusalem, Mexico City, Toronto), around the county (California, Illinois, Vermont) and around New York, converge at a New York location for a ten-day celebration of the power of the miniature. The 7th festival held in 2005 was held in Brooklyn at St Ann’s Warehouse. Working with guest artists, they reinvent the nearly extinct tradition of Toy Theater for contemporary audiences. The venue is reconfigured to house small-scale performance spaces where dramatic spectacles unfold, often simultaneously, alongside a grand toy theater exhibition!

In addition to Toy Theater the artists of Great Small Works: John Bell, Trudi Cohen, Stephen Kaplin, Jenny Romaine, Roberto Rossi, Mark Sussman, utilize puppetry of several sorts, as well as live actors and some very inventive stage technology. Through out the year the monthly performances of Great Small Works are successful in making puppetry accessible to people from all walks of life. Website:


LARRY ENGLER – Larry Engler is the co-author (with Carol Fijan) of Making Puppets Come Alive, a book, which has won awards from The American Library Association and The Puppeteers of America. He is also co-producer of a popular educational puppet video. Larry has served as consultant to Dover Books, advising them on puppetry titles that should be re-published. As producer and distributor of DVD’s highlighting artists Frank Paris, Rufus and Margo Rose, Bil and Cora Baird and others he has made significant material on puppetry widely available to a new public. Larry’s performing credits include: The Metropolitan Opera, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Buffalo Philharmonic, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Westbury Music Fair. International workshops and performances include work in Honduras, India, Israel, and Singapore. Website:


BART P. ROCCOBERTON JR – Since 1990, Bart Roccoberton has served as Director of the Puppet Arts Program and Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts in Puppetry at the University of Connecticut. Bart is recognized worldwide as a leading advocate for the Puppet Arts in the United States and abroad. He serves as a counselor for the Professional Training Commission of the Union International de la Marionette. He is a founding member of the O’Neill Puppetry Conference along with Jane Henson, George Latshaw, Richard Termine, Jim Rose and Margo Rose. His students have gone on to work at The Henson International Festival of Puppet Theatre, The Puppet Showplace The Sandglass Theatre, The Center for Puppetry Arts and on television shows including Sesame Street, Between the Lions, and Bear in the Big Blue House. Bart has a B.A. from Montclair State College, NJ and his M.F.A. from University of Connecticut in Puppet Arts, working as a student of Frank Ballard. Starting in 1973 Bart toured his popular puppet performances to schools, libraries, colleges, theatres and museums earning a solid reputation as a director, before he began his distinguished academic career. He directed The Institute of Professional Puppetry Arts before he began directing the program at University of Connecticut. His understanding and advocacy for the power of puppetry to teach and touch and communicate at every level is in the spirit of Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin, for whom the education award is named. Website:

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