Saturday, March 10, 2012

Is this Pandemic Goodenough?

When she’s not clowning around as a children’s party entertainer, or cheering up kids as a pediatric clown, Honey Goodenough produces PuppetPandemic, a touring showcase of works developed at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference.  Since 2009 Puppet Pandemic has raised funds for alumni scholarships at the conference.  Honey has a BA in Theater and Dance with a focus in costume design and technology from the University of Texas, and a Masters in Educational Theater from NYU.  Currently, she is a NYC Teaching Artist, developing literacy based puppetry programs for Shadow Box Theater. 

Handle with Care, Puppet Pandemic NYC 2010, Photo Credit: Richard Termine
Marsian: When did you start performing in Puppet Slams?

HG: My first official puppet slam was in 2008, at CoLab’s Puppet Slam produced by Mary Gragen Rodgers. But, with the help of Matthew Leonard, I debuted my first original piece called BJ Tucker’s Freak Show at the Margo Rose Scholarship Fundraiser, hosted by the CT Guild of puppetry in 2005.

M: Tell us about one of the acts you have developed at puppet slams?
HG: Most of the pieces I currently tour were originally developed at the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference. But the slam piece I like to perform most of all was developed with Marta Mozelle MacRostie, specifically for Jon Levin and Josh Luxenburg’s Puppet Playlist in NYC. Its called Nothing Compares to You, the story of a girl suffering from a heart-break and is seduced by ice cream. [Seen on this link under Cream]

M: What inspired you to start Puppet Pandemic?
HG:  Puppet Pandemic is based on the idea that Puppetry is an infectious art form.  It is also a fundraiser for the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference Alumni Scholarship.  I was inspired to start Puppet Pandemic because I attended the 2009 O’Neill National Puppetry Conference, and that year the shows sold out early.  I was shocked that so many puppeteers were driving 4 hours from NYC to see a show of peers and then couldn’t get seats.  So, I thought, Lets bring the show to NYC!   Once I began contemplating the finances, I thought it might be more beneficial to everyone to use the funds for a scholarship to attend the O’Neill to produce more work.  So basically, the mission is to produce art in order to fund more art!
M: Who have you partnered with and where have you toured?
HG: I’m constantly surprised by the support this movement has inspired. With the help of many friends from the PSN, I have partnered with other Slams to tour Puppet Pandemic:

Puppet Pandemic (NYC) - October 2009 & September 2010
PuppetShowplace Slam (Brookline) with Roxie Myrum - January 2010 &November 2011
Puppet Co.Playhouse (Glen Echo, MD) with Eric Brooks – March & October 2010, October 2011
AustinPuppet Incident with Caroline Reck & Connor Hopkins - March 2011
Puppet Pandemic (Philadelphia) with Martina Plag - November 2011

Many other slam producers have been willing to host fundraisers in conjunction with their own Puppet Slams including Beau Brown of The Puckin’ Fuppet Show in Atlanta, Katie McClenahan’s  of Beady Little Eyes in Portland, Mary Gragen Rogers  of CoLAB Puppet Slam in New Jersey, Hannah Miller of Action Puppet Force in Orlando, and Madison Crips of The Wham Bam Puppet Slam in Asheville. 
Carole D'Agostino , Object Theater Time, Puppet Pandemic, Glen Echo, MD, Photo: Bruce
M: That’s quite a list! And in such a short period of time! What cities will Pandemic spread to next?  
HG: I hope to partner with Puppet Slamwich in Baltimore, and I hope to go to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Portland. But, in order to tour I need a contact person in the prospective city who will help me organize our tech, travel, and housing. If anyone is interested in helping me organize a new tour or fundraiser, please contact me at

M: What are some of the acts that have traveled with you on the Pandemic circuit?
HG: Carole D'Agostino Object Theater Time, Carole takes objects from the audience and invents and performs a story with them on the spot. It’s very exciting to hear the audience’s reactions to some of Carole’ s re-interpretations of their common everyday objects. Its like everyone shares the same huge a-ha moment.
Alissa Hunnicutt,  Red Dress - Puppet Pandemic, 2010, Photo: Richard Temine.
Alissa Hunnicutt is a conservatory trained singer, and it is always to pleasure to see her blend her love of singing and puppetry together to create a auditory and visually stunning pieces like Uninvited and Red Dress.

In Z Briggs’ Dumb Lovers, Z not only performs this beautiful puppetry piece without the use of puppets, but she also demonstrates the amount focus it takes to create two independent characters through one puppeteer.

M: How much money have you raised for scholarships?
HG:  In 2010 we raised $2,500 or the equivalent of 7 scholarships. In 2011 we raised $5,500 or the equivalent of 9 scholarships. If you want to donate to the 2012 scholarships, you can donate online through Flock Theatre.

Honey Goodenough - Making of Handle with Care, O'Neill 2009, Photo Credit: Honey Goodenough

M: What is your goal with fundraising for scholarships?
HG: My goal is to inspire other alumni of the O’Neill to consider ways they can give back to their community. It can be challenging for artists to find time and the funds to follow their passion and produce their art, while working a day job. I’d like to remove as many financial hurdles as possible.

There is no clear path as to how to become a puppeteer and learn about the art of puppetry, but the O’Neill National Puppetry Conference has been an important part of my artistic process and the crux of my puppetry community. It is my goal to raise as much as possible each year. I haven’t made any official announcements about the scholarship funds this year, but I hope we can award at least 7 scholarships.  That would mean we would have awarded 23 scholarships in just 3 years. That’s one more scholarship that there have been years of the conference!

M: How do you see what happens at the O'Neill Puppetry Conference being relevant to Puppet Pandemic and the Puppet Slam Network? 
HG: The O’Neill Puppetry Conference has a component that is called “participant pieces” for works 3 minutes or less. It’s a great place to work with other creatively powered professionals. If you need a singer, a director, a writer, or a musician, you and just ask for it and someone will help you. It’s an artists dream!

M: Where do you see Puppet Pandemic in the next few years?
HG: Currently, Puppet Pandemic is in search of a new home in NYC. I would love for La Mama ETC to invite us to perform in their theater.  Pandemic is an ensemble of very dynamic puppetry pieces, produced by young artists.  I think the concept of Puppet Pandemic is something Ellen Stewart would be proud to support.

M: What do you think of the current crop of slam names? Puppet Pandemic sounds infectious like a disease. Austin Puppet Incident sounds like they have a problem with the police. Puppet Meltdown has nuclear disaster connotations. Puppet Rampage - Do they have anger issues? My favorite name this year,  King Friday’s Dungeon less apocalyptic and more kinky - sounds like Mr. Rogers + S&M. 
HG: I love it! I chose Puppet Pandemic because I wanted a name that had the word puppetry in it, but didn’t sound like it was for children. I think these names have a similar vibe. The names promise an intense puppetry experience.

Alissa Hunnicutt with Honey Goodenough & Kate Katz - Puppet Art Attacks, Photo courtesy of Honey Goodenough

M: Any advice to future slam organizers or slam organizers who are just starting?
HG: Above all, be good to your performers. There can be a lot of stress related to producing an event, but if you want people to continue to work with you it must be worthwhile for the performers. We have to support this art form, from the ground up! So work hard, be kind, and have fun!

M: Anything else you’d like to tell the readers of our blog?
HG: I would like to thank the Puppet Slam Network for supporting this movement. It’s not only helping support our artists on a micro level, but also making it possible to connect with other artists and producers who believe in the same principals. I think of puppet slams as more than just one show, but a rather a collection of shows that the audience gets to see in one sitting. I think the format really appeals to today’s audience. And it can give wings to young artists who are learning how to create full-length works.

I am always trying to think of innovative ways to fund raise, and looking for donations for our raffles and silent auctions. If anyone has any suggestions, please contact me at:

No comments:

Post a Comment