Sunday, March 25, 2012

April 2012 Slam Calendar

There’s no fooling with April when it comes to Puppet Slams and Cabarets! #SanJuan #Houston #Melbourne #KansasCity #Philadelphia #Providence #DC #Portland #Columbia #Toronto #Richmond #Asheville #GlenEcho #NYC 

Sobre La Mesa Slam #SanJuan
Sunday April 1st at 8:00PM
Friday April 6th at 8:00PM
Saturday, April 7th at 8:00PM
Sunday, April 8th at 8:00PM
Taller Teatro Y No Habia Luz
1416 Avenida Ponce de Leon, Santurce, frente de la Escuela Central High
San Juan Puerto Rico 00912
(787) 365-1925

Puppeteers create short pieces inside a labyrinth of intimate spaces based on their response to an identical object.

Bobbindoctrin's 8th Annual Puppet Slam #Houston
Friday April 6th at TBA
Saturday, April 7th at TBA
Sunday, April 9th at TBA
Midtown Arts Center
3414 LaBranch
Houston TX 77004
(713) 521-8803

Bobbindoctrin's Puppet Slam returns to Houston for another vivid collection of short puppet plays.

Set Up Punch #Melbourne
Thursday, April 12th at 11:00PM
St Ali
12 – 18 Yarra Place Sth Melbourne
0478 548 709
Featuring Randy, The Mighty Littles, Derek Rowe’s puppet band, Wes Snelling, The Soubrettes, Humple the Slam Poet and Ken the Koala. Set Up Punch is a one night Slam celebrating FUNNY puppets, especially for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2012.

KC Puppet Slam #KansasCity
Friday, April 13th at 8:00PM
Saturday, April 14th at 8:00 PM
Paul Mesner Puppets Studio
1006 E. Linwood Blvd.Kansas City, Missouri 64109
(816) 756-3500

Join us for the KC Puppet Slam. A puppet slam is an evening of adult-themed puppet pieces. Quirky, edgy and oh-so-naughty...You’ve never seen a puppet show like this before!

Puppet Manualfesto #Philadelphia
Saturday, April 14th at 7:00PM & 9:00PM

Puppet Manualfesto #Philadelphia
Walking Fish Theatre
2509 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, Pa, 19125
(215) 427-9255
$12 Advance / $15 Door
Come join Puppet Manualfesto as it celebrates short-form puppetry and community, embracing a multitude of performance aesthetics. If it involves puppetry, mask work or object theatre we want to see and share it with everyone else.

Bobbindoctrin's 8th Annual Puppet Slam #Houston
Saturday, April 14th at TBA
Sunday, April 15th at TBA
Midtown Arts Center
3414 LaBranch, Houston TX 77004
(713) 521-8803
Bobbindoctrin's Puppet Slam returns to Houston for another vivid collection of short puppet plays.

Blood From a Turnip #Providence
Friday, April 20th at 10:00PM
Black Box at 95 Empire
95 Empire Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 331-2695
Video-ventriloquist Evan O’Television and non-motivational speaker Brian Longwell explore their relationship to puppetry together under the umbrella, “The Itching Man A/V Society Presents”.

Puppet Underground Cabarets #DC
Friday, April 20th at 8:00PM
La Casa Community of Christ
3166 Mt Pleasant St NW
Washington, DC 20010
$5-$15 Sliding Scale
This slam will feature NYC puppeteer Erin Bell’s “Do Right Belly Fire, Do Right Monkey Brain” as well as other local acts.

Beady Little Eyes #Portland #OR
Friday, April 20th at 8:00PM
Funhouse Lounge
2432 SE 11th Street
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 841-6734
Beady Little Eyes to take SE Portland by storm! The theme, Heroes and Villains will evoke triumph and despair in the hearts of even the quirkiest Portlanders. $1 off admission with a superhero/villain costume.

Spork In Hand Puppet Slam #Columbia #SC
Friday, April 20th at 7:00PM
Saturday, April 21st at 7:00PM

Spork In Hand Puppet Slam #Columbia #SC
Tapp's Arts Center
1644 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201
$10 advance / $12 door
Spork in Hand Puppet Slam will be a celebration of Southern puppetry that is off-the-beaten-path. We hope to amaze, entertain, and inspire with two gloriously gritty evenings of experimental puppet and object theatre performances heretofore unseen in South Carolina.

Feed the Birds Cabaret #Toronto
Thursday, April 26th at 8:00PM
Tallulah's Cabaret at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
12 Alexander Street
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1B4
Feed the Birds brings on the love and feathers in the latest installment of their performing objects and puppetry cabaret

All The Saints Spaghetti Dinner! #Richmond
Saturday, April 28th at 7:00PM

All The Saints Spaghetti Dinner! #Richmond
The Backyard Theater
1012 W. 49th St.
Richmond, VA. 23225

Our Spaghetti Dinners act dually as a grassroots artists cabaret of puppetry, vaudeville, and good old cardboard enthusiasm while feeding the community all at a sliding scale rate.  Eccentric, delicious, and the ultimate go-to for Richmond’s experimental performance scene.

Wham, Bam! Puppet Slam #Asheville
Saturday, April 28th at 9:00PM
The BeBe Theatre
20 Commerce Street
Asheville, NC 28801

For the National Day of Puppetry, the Wham, Bam! Puppet Slam presents a ‘Quick & Dirty Slam’! One show only! Twelve acts, five minutes each!  Come witness the mayhem and madness, or even come perform yourself!

Playhouse Puppetry Slam! #GlenEcho #MD
Saturday, April 28th at 7:00PM & 9:00PM
The Puppet Co. Playhouse
7300 MacArthur Blvd
Glen Echo, MD 20812

The Puppet Co. Playhouse presents its adult-friendly showcase of vignettes. Content ranges from the raunchy and risqué to the tender and tear jerking, in a fast-moving succession of both rough and polished acts with live jazz by JFQ in between.

Puppet Playlist City #NYC
Monday, April 30th at 8:00PM
The Kraine Theater
84 E. 4th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-6088
You've heard it through the grapevine, now join Puppet Playlist as we bring Motown to Downtown with original works of puppetry & musical interpretations by some of NYC's most exciting singer-songwriters! Let's Get It On. Program repeats Tuesday May 1st at 7:30PM and 9:30PM.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Illocutions: A Cabaret of Performative Poetries

Great Small Works Spaghetti Dinners

A Cabaret of Performative Poetries

With reading/performances by
Cara Benson
Lee Ann Brown
Tracie Morris
Tomas Urayoan Noel
Eugene Ostashevsky
Stephen Boyer, Ayesha Adamo, Kari Giron, Ras Osagyefo, Ben Rosenberg
read from the #OWS Poetry Anthology
Robert Kocik, Daria Fain and The Phoneme Choir

with Great Small Works performing Terror as Usual Episode 13

March 27, 2012 @7:30
One Arm Red
10 Jay Street, 9th Floor
DUMBO Brooklyn $15 (and yet no one is turned away)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Serving up New Brew: Alissa Hunnicutt

When she's not organizing New Brew, Alissa Hunnicutt performs at puppet slams in the tri-state area. Her original show,  The Kid Inside”, has been seen at cabaret venues, Dixon Place , and at the Orlando Puppet Festival.  Alissa is the resident puppeteer at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.  She has been a featured participant at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference and has performed at Great Small Works’ InternationalToy Theater Festival.  Her short film, Can’t Buy My Love”, was included in the Puppets on Film Festival at BAM.  Alissa’s puppet theater credits include Die Hard the Puppet Musical, David Michael Friend’s EGO, Cosmic Bicycle Theater’s “Edward Lear’s Absurd-Ditties”, and the UNIMA Award-winning Kevin Augustine’s “BRIDE”.

Marsian: So you are hosting, New Brew this month? I know you've performed at a lot of slams, but is this your first time hosting one?

Alissa Hunnicutt: I am hosting an event on March 16th at Barbes in Park Slope, called New Brew: It's Better with Puppets!  This is actually the third slam I've put together.  The first was in 2008 called A Puppet Music Thing as part of the New York Musical TheatreFestival (I curated, performed and self produced).  That was a great opportunity to expose the musical theater community to a wide variety of styles of puppetry.  And in December 2009, I co-curated the first New Brew evening with puppets.

M: Sounds intoxicating and musical. What exactly is New Brew?
AH: New Brew is a subgroup of a company I sing with, Opera on Tap. New Brew is a Contemporary Collective of Performers/Performance Curators showcasing the work of 20th and 21st century composers. We each take a turn at curating an evening of arias and art songs by living composers. My contribution as a curator has been to bring a puppetry element to that material. It's really fun music to do because very often the composer is in the room for the show.

M: So how do you incorporate puppets into these works by living composers?
AH: Here's how the New Brew show works - I reached out to the NY puppetry community (through my newsletter, guild meetings, a puppetry listserve, and individual requests) to ask who would like to participate in a grab-bag puppet slam of sorts. To create a short puppetry piece for an adult audience based on a contemporary classical art song NOT of their choosing.  The very brave puppeteers who answered that call have had less than a month to come up with some visual representation of songs from the repertoire of music performed at previous New Brew shows. My co-curator, Delea Shand, coordinated the line-up of songs and I assigned them to the puppeteers.

M: Sounds like half the show is what happens behind the scenes.
AH: It's an interesting process, because it's more like a puppet challenge since the puppeteer isn't waiting to be struck by some kind of inspiration to begin the process.  They have to come up with a visual concept with no choice in the material. The show is also special because all of the music for the evening is performed live.
M: What was your first puppet slam like?
AH: My first puppet slam was Puppet Art Attacks as part of the Voice4Vision Festival in 2007.  I had developed my first short piece that same year during my first summer attending the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference.  It's a table-top, moving-mouth puppet piece called Raggedy Ann.  I have a semi-costume element in that piece as the puppet represents me, so I was wearing a white pinafore and my hair in pigtails.  That was the first time performing at a puppetry event in NYC, so I was really nervous.  And the piece is tricky because I think it's really sad and speaks to a lot of personal truth about heartache and struggles I've been through, but often an audience thinks it's funny.  It's not typical slam material since it's serious, but I was glad to get a chance to perform it again.

M: I’ve seen Raggedy Ann, and it’s a mix of emotions, just like life. Now you’re also really good at mixing up the world of cabaret singing and puppets.
AH: Yeah, that's kind of my thing. I came to puppetry with a background in music. I've been singing my whole life, but I never really found my own artistic voice until I took my singing and combined that with puppetry.  In all my years of performing, I never had the desire to create my own work.  But I have been prolific with my desire to create new puppet shows.  Puppetry gave me that voice. And puppet slams gave me the stage.

M: You’ve performed at a LOT of puppet slams, some further away than the tri-state area.
AH: I hadn't added it up before, but since 2007, I've performed in around 35 puppet slams.  In NYC we're really fortunate because there are a lot of slams, cabarets, variety shows, soirees, etc., where there are performance opportunities - some several times a year, some annual, some festivals, and some one-time special events.  In addition to local performances, I've traveled to CT, NJ, MD, MA, GA, FL, and I've had a film shown in IL.

M: Wow, that’s a lot of traveling, and what would you say was the freakiest, edgiest or weirdest show you’ve seen in your travels?
AH: The "freakiest, edgiest, or weirdest show” would probably have been something performed at slam that isn't around anymore produced by Kate Brehm called Slutty Puppets.  The theme was exactly that.  Pieces that were edgy.  Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith is an amazingly talented puppeteer who also has a wonderfully sick imagination and I love her work.  "Funniest" is impossible to choose. I am a very lucky girl to be surrounded by really funny friends, and a late night slam really lends itself to that kind of material.  Liz Hara is hilarious and her pieces are clever and well-written.  Spencer Lott's last bamboo piece cracks me up!

M: On the flip side, any slams that were real disasters?
AH: I don't think any of them have been disastrous. Some of them have pieces that are "less successful" than others partly because it might be a less curated slam or a slam that really welcomes less experienced performers, but that's the good part about a slam.  

"Everyone can try something out and if it doesn't really work, the audience is on to a new thing pretty quickly. Like we all say, 'too short to suck'."

M: If you were to say you are part of a slam circuit? What would that encompass? Have you ever been on a slam tour?
AH: The closest thing I've been to a slam tour  is performing in Honey Goodenough's Puppet Pandemic in 2010-2011. She got a few of us to do several slams in the Northeast by loading into a couple cars and finding local housing to keep the costs as low as possible.  Many of us performed in each other's pieces, so if you got the right combination of performers you could really maximize the number of pieces available to showcase.  It was a lot of fun.

M: Like a lot of performers I know, it seems like you have used puppet slams to help in developing full-length works.
AH: When I got back from the O'Neill with Raggedy Ann, I knew I wanted to find more opportunities to perform that piece, but I didn't want to do a full show that developed that character further specifically.  I'd been toying with the idea of doing my own cabaret show of songs for a long time, and this seemed like a great catalyst for that.  So I said to my musical director, Steven Katz, "ok, let's do a show."  And he and I began choosing songs I was drawn to sing or inspired with a puppet idea.  Because my work has its inspiration come from a song, by the very nature of that the pieces are short form.  And because I like to explore emotions in my performances, putting my heart and vulnerability on the stage, the work doesn't lend itself to a children's audience.  Steven came up with the title song for the cabaret show "The Kid Inside" to pull all of it together.  The universal inner child we all have, especially as puppeteers.

M: And from what I’ve gathered, you set out on a longer process to creating a fully developed show from short pieces that you debuted at slams? 
AH: So over the next three years I kept the big picture in mind as I chose songs to develop as puppetry pieces.

I couldn't have gotten the pieces ready without using puppet slams as my development sandbox. 

Knowing a slam was coming up and what goal I had set for it gave me deadlines and milestones to reach for each piece.  I worked with my collaborators to explore new styles of puppetry using these short form pieces to also grow technically as a puppeteer.  At the same time working with my musical director to keep the pieces on theme for what would eventually be our larger show where we knit the songs together into an evening where the emotional journey of growing up, loving, living and laughing was the through line.  I'm really proud of the way it all came together.

M: Tell us about a fabulous failure at a slam and what you've learned from it.
AH: Mostly you learn that it's live theater and anything can happen.  So think on your feet when there are technical glitches and be honest in your performance.  You also learn pretty quickly what doesn't work in a slam context when you have no control over what comes before your performance.

M: Why are Puppet Slams important to you?
AH: Puppet slams are a great way to try out new material for the performer.  Also a way for someone new to puppetry to put their toe in the water since doing a short form piece is less overwhelming (or can be).  I think it's also really important to use these short pieces, and evenings of short pieces, to showcase forms of puppet theater the general theater-going audience is unfamiliar with.  That's why I get most excited when the show collaborates with a non-puppet audience.   

I love performing for my peers, but I think it's got to be our mission to educate and expand the definition of "puppet" to the general audience whose whole exposure to puppetry has come from their television.   

Puppet theater is powerful and beautiful and moving and exciting and funny and different from other forms of entertainment in a really special way.  I care a great deal about it.

M: What inspires you to create a puppet slam piece?
AH: For me it almost always starts with a song.  Something that when I hear the song I "see" something, usually a moment, a single image that becomes the jumping off point visually.

M: Who are some other artists on the puppet slam circuit who you are inspired by? 

AH: I love what Jon Levin brings to his work. He really reinvents a story when he's working with a song.  As one of the forces behind Puppet Playlist, he sets a wonderful example of how to develop something within their structure. Hugo Gets Flushed, or Plenty of Fish in theSea is a piece he does using his hands painted like a fish. The movement and expression he gives that puppet is priceless.

Honey Goodenough's sweet marionette pieces Handle with Care and Sweet Dreams) are beautifully thought out and touching. I am enjoying watching her develop her individual pieces with an eye for a larger theme and am looking forward to seeing her put them together into a longer program someday.

WonderSpark Puppets (Z Briggs & Chad Williams) are such great writers and storytellers.  They are funny and smart. Jack and the Beanstalk, Part 2 is a great example of that.  They are concentrating more on their puppet company's business these days and they are sorely missed from the slam line-ups.

M: What pieces do you have in circulation to perform in puppet slams?

AH: Red Dress is a solo marionette piece, a moment of a woman's reflection on expectations from her youth that didn't come true. The marionette form, costume, and my costumes were designed/built by Sarah Lafferty. The piece was developed at the O'Neill with Phillip Huber.

Marry Me is a toy theater piece based on a Dolly Parton bluegrass song. It's cute and funny, about how easy it is to get carried away with the excitement of the potential of a first date and first kiss.  The show was designed/built by Michael Schupbach of the The Puppet Kitchen, sung to a track recorded by The Birdhive Boys, and most often with the human acting partnership of Chad Williams.  Performed originally at the Great Small Works' International Toy Theater Festival.

Almost Everything I Need is a solo miniature theater piece that's fairly new. Using a puppet built by David Fino.  It's the story of a woman in her new apartment, alone, after a relationship ended. Feeling out of place.  Taking stock of the situation.  Created for the first New Brew puppet slam and will be reprised this Friday.

Uninvited is a table top puppet designed/built by David Michael Friend based on a song by Groovelily from their musical Sleeping Beauty Wakes sung by the Ugly Fairy who wasn't invited to the ball...and she's pissed.  The other puppeteers on that team are Honey Goodenough and Z Briggs. Uninvited debuted at Puppet Playlist's Seven Deadly Sins show.

M: Where can people contact you to perform?

They can find contact info on my site, to sign up for my newsletter to find out when and where I'm performing next!  But at the moment I'm more interested in people contacting me to collaborate on new slam pieces that then can start hitting the stage.  If you're a builder and would like a gig creating a new piece with me, let me know.

M: Where would you like to see Puppet Slams and the Puppet Slam Network in the future?
AH: I really appreciate what the Puppet Slam Network does with financial granting for the people who produce slams on a regular basis.  I found out the hard way with my first producing experience how much money it costs to do a full slam in a theater space out of pocket when you pay your puppeteers, lighting designer, sound designer, publicity, programs, host, etc.  If we want people to produce evenings of high quality theater, the financial help that the network is doing is so important.

I love the communication that has opened up between slams cultivated by the Slam Network. It's a great resource for a new performer to find performance opportunities if they aren't tapped into those in their area.  I hope the network continues to grow its support of the individual performer along with the producers.  Offering ways to showcase their work (maybe individual pages with a simple CMS performers can use to generate a profile), and perhaps offering financial support for developing new short form puppetry is an area that could be considered.

M:What advice do you have for up and coming slam artists or performers who are just starting out?
AH: I think a lot of your interview subjects have suggested going to a slam if you're interested in participating in slams.  I totally agree.  See what other artists in your area are doing.  It's inspiring.  I am also a huge cheerleader for The National Puppetry Conference at The O'Neill Theater Center.  Your readers hear that name a ton too, I'm sure.  The participant pieces that are developed in the evenings are where a lot of the slam content comes from in my circle of peers.  In a few days you are exposed to so many different methods and techniques for creating short form puppetry.  Plus it's a very tight network of puppeteers who have leads on performance opportunities, become fast friends, and it has a very special place in my heart.

M: Anything else we should know?
AH: I have some new ideas for pieces I'd like to develop over the next year and add into The Kid Inside in order to put the show back on its feet in 2013 with some fresh material for returning audience.  So you will see a lot of me as those new pieces come to life!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Geppetta on Puppets, Flammability & High Maintenance Alter Egos

Adelaide Windsome is a Philadelphia based multimedia fabulist, artist, and organizer, who performs under the moniker, Geppetta.  Her puppet shows and film, which she describes as “dark and whimsical”, have been featured nationally with Fresh Meat Productions, Heels on Wheels Glitter Roadshow, and Painted Bride Art Center's Lets Make a Ruckus Festival. She has led workshops on gender studies, multimedia art, and social activism at James Madison and Harvard Law.

The Light Bearer's Nightmare, Puppet Slamwich #Baltimore, Photo: Bill Haas 2011
Marsian: You are a performance enigma! Is it Adelaide? A(dee)laide? or Geppetta?
AW: Ha! I think my name situation makes more sense in my head then to anyone else. My name is Adelaide though most know me as simply ‘dee’ - thus A(dee)laide. I do enjoy Adelaide as is though, it sounds very proper and charming. 

M: What was the genesis of Geppetta? Is it like an alter ego for you?
AW:  I started using Geppetta a few years ago when I was touring the Southeast with my friend Evan Greer, who is a musician. I wanted to make it clear that I was a puppeteer (and a badass queer feminist puppeteer at that).  Since then, Geppetta has sort of become her own puppet.  She doesn’t act like I do when I’m off stage - I just crawl inside her skin once in awhile.  Its probably for the best, she is high maintenance.

M: Tell us about your art practice and how you ended up performing at Puppet Slams.
AW: I would say multimedia storytelling is the foundation of what I do. I work with stories and experimental memoir that utilize fairy tale and fable motifs and occult symbolism.  Most often my work has themes of complex emotions, such as depression, trauma, and grief, and the surreal effects that can have on the body and mind.  I like there to be laughter and tears.  

M: From magic to melancholy, it sounds like an emo rollercoaster!
AW: I think that’s reflective of why fairy tales and fables are written to begin with, to process hard and complex realities with whimsy and fantasy. My background is in visual arts though and I spend the most time sewing together puppets and painting on tiny faces.  As far as performance, I produce short form theater that features puppetry, narrative, and live music. That model works well for Puppet Slams.

M: Can you recall your very first slam experience? 
AW: I first heard about Slams while living in Boston years ago.  I was interested but didn’t quite have the nerve yet, so I stuck to performing in living rooms and street corners for a while.

M: Um, it takes more nerve to be a street performer, but back to that first puppet cabaret…
AW: The first puppet cabaret I did was right when I moved to Philadelphia with Puppet Uprising at the Rotunda. I had to park the U-Haul and head straight there - it was a scramble. I did a little cardboard piece about two gay lovers lost at sea with my friend playing harmonica.  One lover had his limbs bitten off by a shark.  I think that was the only time I did that piece.  Since then, Puppet Uprising Cabarets have a special place in my heart because I have grown a lot as a performer there and had the opportunity to curate a couple shows.

M: I hope it wasn’t autobiographical… Which Puppet Slams have you performed at?
AW: I have performed at Puppet Slams around the Northeast including Brookline Puppet Showplace’s Slam, PuppetSlamwich at Black Cherry in Baltimore, and Blood From a Turnip in Providence plus a couple others. Most of these in the last year or so.

M: I used to host Blood from a Turnip with Vanessa!
AW: Last fall I had the opportunity to be a featured artist with Blood from a Turnip on one of their solo artist nights.  I must say. David and Vanessa are probably the most accommodating people I have worked with.  It was a great experience to perform a bunch of work and hold the spotlight.  I did miss the diversity and hectic nature of Slams and group performances.

M: I love when you get to see short glimpses of different artists’ visions in the same evening and when you are performing in a slam how you never really know who you will be performing with.
AW: My parents came to a puppet Slam in Boston. It was the same night as War Sheep, a parody on War Horse by Broderick Jones, which involves a sheep getting blown up and made out with. That was a bit freaky/interesting for them. 

M: I’ve heard that you tour a lot in odd places.
AW:  I have booked tours with performers and musicians where we perform at bars and cafes and basements and spaces generally not accustomed to puppetry.  While I like subverting those kinds of spaces in favor of performance art, it is also very nurturing to perform at Puppet Slams that are better equipped for puppetry and just get it a bit more.  Though bars probably provide more juicy details on account of the free drinks.  You’d be amazed at the number of people who have never seen a buzzed puppeteer on stage before.  It's astounding… I would love to do cross country Puppet Slam jaunt. It sounds dreamy for both my sick organizational fetish and as a performer who has wanderlust in her blood.

M: Tell us about a fabulous failure at a slam and what you've learned from it.
AW: I think I count on failure or at least making mistakes to some degree. A lot of my stories are very wordy, more poetic than funny, and I often forget my lines, though if I can quip with the audience its okay.  A lot of mistakes graduate into being essential parts of the show.  Recently, I lit my hair on fire during a performance at a crowded loft. That wasn’t at a Slam, though I think it would have gone over better if it had been.

M: I love it! That’s so Michael Jackson of you and educational at the same time!
AW: Maybe? Its probably best if I keep that part cut out of the show.
M: How have you evolved through Puppet Slams?
AW: In the past I have mostly performed with other queer artists and musicians or through LGBTQ organizations, which I love to do and will always do, but I wanted to begin performing in settings that pertained to my craft more than my identity.  I don’t feel as though I have a wide grasp of the world of contemporary puppetry.  Slams have been most of my exposure to that world.  This felt rather intimidating at first though Puppet Slams have been so accessible and open to a wide range of styles and backgrounds.  I have performed alongside seasoned puppeteers and with people who just felt like making a show that weekend.  If I feel weird or different I am in good company.  
"Slams are like magnets for innovative weirdness."
M: Why do you think Puppet Slams are important?
AW: It’s been a great place to experiment and network.  Maintaining a space in puppetry for the adult imagination is really important as well. Though anytime I use adult and puppetry in the same sentence people just think sexy puppets. Of course its sexy puppets! (though mostly not).  Mostly I want grown-ups or anyone who feels they are too old for puppets to get excited about a cardboard box versus a Hollywood film, which does all the work for you.

M: Which performers on the slam circuits are you inspired by?
AW: To some extent, I get inspired by most everyone at Puppet Slams - if not by their performance then by their puppets.  Most often I want to get dorky about how a puppet moves since my technical skills are limited.

Some folks I have seen or have performed with a few times are RPM Puppet Conspiracy, who are a Vermont-based troupe.  One time I was caught up in some puppet-related woe about metaphor and movement and stupid things and then went to a show by RPM about a space sanitation worker and a talking telephone and a cat with a mustache.  It was brilliantly silly and still conveyed a message about over consumption and American consumerism.  It was a great reminder not to over-think things, which is a debilitating problem I have.

I recently performed Das Wunderkammer Kabaret at the Cosmic Bicycle Puppet Theater in New York and shared the bill with the Ragdoll Engine, who I also performed with in Philly once before. The group features clown and puppeteer, Aly Perry with accompaniment by banjo player, Cody Fosbrook, and master looper, Karl Scholz. They had sexy puppets! and also sad puppets and puppets you couldn’t quite understand. I enjoy performances where afterwards you feel captivated though also a bit confused.
Beth Nixon is a Philly favorite who is as much a character actor as puppeteer. Her and Sarah Lowry of Missoula Oblongata recently performed Below and Beyond, a cheeky and fantastical response to the fracking debate in Pennsylvania. They will be touring around in May.

M: What slam pieces do you have in circulation?
AW: I have been performing segments from BEWARE DISEMBODIED PHENOMENAS!, which is comprised of three darker fables.  One is about the queen of a thrift store who finds Medusa’s brass hands.  The other is about a narcissistic dandy haunted by a girlish ghost, and the last is a murder mystery that involves a train hopper and giant dead squid.  The stories are allusions to classic myths in contemporary fable settings and have a lot to do with fear and xenophobia.  Also I think they are pretty funny.

M: Anything in development? 
AW: A shorter version of a longer piece entitled, Three Daemon Serenade, which is a collaboration with experimental folk musician, Elliott Harvey.  It's about tea and owls and out-of-body experiences.  That’s the piece where I lit my hair on fire.  Its under control now. I promise.

M: And when you are not lighting your hair on fire, where can people contact you to perform?
AW: I can be contacted at You can also join my e-mail list here:

M: What advice do you have for up and coming slam performers who are just starting out?
AW: The best advice I was given was from writer/performer Ryka Aoki, while I was on the Tranny Roadshow.  She said something along the lines of if you are nervous you need to channel that energy into the performance.  The best performances I have done are when I want to pee my pants a little.

M: What’s coming up for you?
AW: This April I will be touring with the Heels on Wheels Glitter Roadshow across the Northeast. Heels on Wheels is a group of queer performance artists that features a raucous, thought-provoking line-up of multi-media, literary and performing arts, music, puppetry, participatory art. Its not only puppets but its a very animated show for sure!