Puppet Slams

We ❤ puppet slams! Puppet slams are cabaret-style showings of short puppet pieces by many different puppeteers. For adults. Did I mention they’re for adults?

A puppet slam is a great place to see new works of puppet theatre, whether you’re looking for something bawdy, funny, experimental, or dramatic. ‘I didn’t know puppetry could do that’ is a common refrain. Yep. Puppet slam=mind BLOWN.

It’s a great way to take risks and perform a new idea that’s been noodling around in your head. Slap something together out of cardboard and recruit a couple friends to perform. Instant genius… or catastrophic failure… either way, there’s usually pizza and beer backstage to celebrate/ soothe your bruised ego.

It’s also a great way to get a bunch of puppeteers from all around the country into one theater. Give puppeteers  stage time in front of an adoring audience, and they’ll be showing up with suitcases full of puppets, or maybe a U-Haul and a dog, before you know it.

We’ve performed in slams  in New York City, Portland, Philadelphia,  New Brunswick,  Atlanta, and probably some other places we’ve forgotten. It’s always a great time with puppet pieces that are “too short to suck”.

Here are some of our favorite shots:

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Performing at Dragon*Con.

We just got back from Dragon*Con, the biggest sci-fi convention in the world, in Atlanta, GA. Not only is this a fantastic sci-fi con, it’s all about fantasy, movies and TV, gaming, geek culture… pretty much any great geeky thing you can think about.

Our friend Beau Brown is now in his second year of directing the Puppetry Track. He invited us to come to Atlanta to perform a show, speak on some panels about the biz, and perform in the Puppet Slam. How could we refuse? We crammed our little yellow Ford Focus (named Bee) full of puppets, jumped in, and away we went, on one of those epic road trips: full of bad food and great memories.

Aaron and I are no strangers to touring or festivals, but Dragon*Con is a different animal entirely. It’s enormous.

Paper Tiger Puppets debuted our brand-new kids’ show, Gerald The Giraffe… And Me!  We had a GREAT reception by an audience of kids of all ages. The kids looked and sounded thrilled to have a puppet show at Dragon*Con just for them, and the adults were very interested too. All around, a wonderful debut.

Speaking on panels was a new experience for me, although I have been a teaching artist since 2005.  The Puppetry and Evil panel had to be my favorite.

And the Late Night Puppet Slam has become a huge event at Dragon*Con. Hosted by Bob and Carl, Sci-Fi Janitors, this was a cabaret of 15 different adult puppet performances. We opened the Slam with Sheep Caroline, a singalong with sheep. The Slam had an audience of about 1,000 and went until the wee hours of the morning. It was by far the biggest slam we’ve ever done.

This year, the puppetry track featured The Fraggles: guests Michael K. Frith, Kathryn Mulllen, and Karen Prell. Michael was the Fraggles main designer and former Executive Vice President of the Jim Henson Company. His wife Kathy played Moki Fraggle, and Karen played Red Fraggle. They have all gone on to illustrious careers in puppetry, animation, and video games since then, but they’re still Fraggles at heart. I guess you never really lose that spark. It was fantastic to hear them speak and see their work, and Karen even took us puppeteers out for margaritas and Mexican food on Monday afternoon. They couldn’t have been nicer!

That’s one thing I love about the puppetry business: the most talented people are also the warmest, kindest, funniest, and share-iest. I love my puppeteer family.

-Gina