Thursday, February 27, 2014

Meet the Man Behind the Sock Puppet

Behind-the-Scenes of “The Joshua Show” with Joshua Holden

Puppets at Night, a series of evening puppetry performances for adult and teen audiences at Puppet Showplace Theatre presents “The Joshua Show” by Joshua Holden, Fri & Sat, Feb 28 & Mar 1 at 8pm. This award-winning performance features classic vaudeville physical humor, original live music, puppets and even tap dancing! Tickets:

Interview with Joshua Holden...

How did you become a performer?

I started performing in community theatre at the age of 7 after seeing my first live performance at the North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly. It became very clear to me that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. In my junior year of high school i was awarded a scholarship to attend the Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick and graduated from there the following year. I feel so proud to be in Boston doing what I love.

How did you create “The Joshua Show”?

I lived a nomadic life for nearly four years while traveling the US with various national tours. At the end of this long chapter of my life, I had no home base and no obligations. I went on a road trip with a friend, and while passing through Chicago, I was invited to perform in a puppet slam. It felt way too scary to create an original piece in such a short amount of time and I initially said, "No, I wouldn't know what to do" My friend responded with, “Well, what do you daydream about?” and I jokingly said, "I want to be the next Mr. Rogers and host my own television show." She said, "then do it!" So, that’s what I did! I made two puppets, and called the piece “The Joy Friends.” It was only 10 minutes long, but people were so excited about what they saw at the puppet slam that I decided that I would continue working on it.

Joshua Holden, puppeteer in "Peter Pan 360"
Who did you collaborate with to create “The Joshua Show”?

I have worked with two very talented musicians: Alex Knapp & Tim Hansen. Tim is an Australian composer that I met in New York about a year and a half ago. When the piece was still in development, we tried out new material at puppet slams and workshops. Tim wrote an adorably awesome song celebrating what it’s like to be a sheep called “When you’re a sheep” back in 2008 and we worked it into the show. He has now since moved back to Australia but when he said he would be in the U.S. this February, I had to have him as part of the performance of “The Joshua Show” at Puppet Showplace!

Joshua Holden with Tim Hansen, composer and musician.
Why do you incorporate puppets and tap dancing in your show?

I present myself in “The Joshua Show” as a gentleman and I create work that is genuinely accessible to both kids and adults. I strive to create work that spreads joy to my audiences. Bringing puppets to the show is a no-brainer because they are instant joy makers. Tap dancing is one of the happiest forms of dancing and it's intergenerational. It pumps up the energy of the show.

Joshua Holden with puppet character from "The Joshua Show"

What was your experience at the 2013 National Puppetry Festival?

Applying for the National Puppet Festival was scary but exciting. I only had a 10 minute piece when I applied. I was accepted to perform at the festival under the agreement that I would expand the piece to 45 minutes in length. Over the course of a year I traveled all over the country from New York City, to Chicago, Philadelphia and even Reading, MA adding more material with each performance. When I finally got to the festival, I was overwhelmed with the national puppet community and the abundant talent surrounding me. When I was awarded “Fan Favorite” and “Best Performance” at the awards ceremony, I was shocked and incredibly proud that all my hard work had paid off.

Who inspires and influences your creative work?

I often find myself looking at classic children's television hosts. Mr. Rogers is my biggest influence. Everyone was affected by him as a humanitarian and everyone's best friend. Yes, he was a bit sappy, but he made you feel so good about yourself and his positive messages resonated with everyone. When I look at what’s happening in today's entertainment, we don’t have that classic host with a cast of characters. I want to create a platform similar to Mr. Rogers and talk about the issues we are dealing with in todays world.

Joshua Holden with Mr. Nicholas in "The Joshua Show"
What do you hope to communicate to the audience?

This show is 100% from my heart. It's about celebrating our differences and finding joy in everyday life and about respecting your feelings and the feelings of others. It's about loving this awesome life we get to live each and every day.

What is next for the Joshua show?

I'm currently creating new material for "The Joshua Show" that I will be filming and putting on my YouTube channel in attempts to expand my audience and reach as many people as I can. I'm greatly honored to announce that in the spring of 2015 I will be performing at The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA for thirteen shows.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More Puppets Around the World!

Aesop's Fables
by Applause Unlimited

Thurs & Fri, Feb 27 & 28 at 10:30 am
Sat & Sun, Mar 1 & 2 at 1:00 & 3:00pm


From "The Country Mouse and The City Mouse", "Aesop's Fables" by Applause Unlimited
Up next in the “Puppets Around the World"series...Aesop’s Fables!

Though little is known about the mysterious Aesop, a poor man in ancient Greece, his stories have stayed with us for centuries. Enduring the test of time, Aesop’s fables have been passed down through different generations and cultures to take on the form they exist in today. Short, imaginative tales, Aesop’s fables utilize animals and nature to reveal greater truths of the human condition, and convey morals for humankind to accept.

Renaissance era depiction of what Aesop may have looked like.

Applause Unlimited's production includes three of Aesop’s classic stories: “The Ant and the Grasshopper” in which a busy ant teaches us the importance of being prepared; “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse” in which we learn that some risks aren’t worth taking; and “The Tortoise and the Hare” in which a wise tortoise teaches us that boasting will not win a race.


Christopher Hudert (Applause Unlimited) began his theatrical career at an early age, performing with The Children's Theater of Richmond, Puppetfest Productions, and other Virginia-based companies. While pursuing a degree in Theater Education, Christopher joined the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus and toured for 9 years across the United States and Japan. After achieving the rank of Boss Clown, he left the circus to create his own company with master puppeteer Terry Snyder. Since its founding, Applause Unlimited has received two UNIMA Citations of Excellence, the highest recognition in American puppetry, and has performed in theaters and at festivals worldwide. 

Christopher Hudert (Applause Unlimited) performing "The Magic of Hans Christian Andersen"
We invite you to revisit these classic tales through the magic of puppetry, and join us as Aesop’s fables come alive on stage at Puppet Showplace Theatre!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

More Adult Classes at Puppet Showplace!

with Brad Shur, Artist in Residence

8 sessions, March 3 - April 28 
(No class April 21)
Mondays, 6:30-9pm
Members save 10% on registration!


A wise man once said there is no greater joy on earth than working with one’s hands. Get busy with yours by designing and building your own puppet with the guidance of artist Brad Shur, and bring your puppet to life from the very first design. Class starts soon, sign-up today! 


Brad has been professionally involved in puppetry for almost 15 years. He began as a performer with the Providence puppet and mask company Big Nazo while studying film and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has worked in various capacities with Wood & Strings Theatre (Tennessee), and Vermont PuppetTree, and as a builder has designed and fabricated puppets for American Idol, Dollywood, and other theaters and performers from Austin, Texas to Boston, Massachusetts.

Brad Shur, Artist in Residence
All of the puppets Brad uses in his performances come from his workshop, where he builds them by hand from wood, paper, plastic, foam and fabric.

Learn about Brad's touring performances.

Adult students working on their puppets at Puppet Showplace Theatre. For more pictures of Brad’s adult class last year check out our flickr photos here.


Puppets are moving sculptures carefully crafted to be brought to life. Engineering and design play crucial roles in shaping a puppet character's personality and movement abilities. In "Puppet Building 101" participants will create their own original sculpted rod puppet from scratch. To begin, class members will learn how to turn their ideas into drawn designs, ready to be produced. From there, participants will sculpt plasticine, apply paper mache, pattern and sew fabric, and apply other materials to turn their designs into fully functional, performance-ready works of art! Although the puppet made in class will be a rod puppet, the skills and techniques used are applicable to many types of puppet construction.

This is an intro-level class. Lessons are cumulative so consistent attendance is important. Participants will be expected to work on projects outside of class time.

Get creative, and bring your original puppet design to life!

Find more info about upcoming spring and summer classes at Puppet Showplace ON-LINE

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Travel Around the World this Vacation Week!

Puppets Around the World Kicks-Off This February

Puppet Showplace Theatre presents a series of puppet shows celebrating world culture and puppetry styles, "Puppets Around the World" from Feb 18-March 30. First up in the series is "An Arabian Adventure" by Tanglewood Marionettes. We are presenting two performances a day, Tues-Thurs during February Vacation week! VIEW FULL SCHEDULE

"An Arabian Adventure" 
by Tanglewood Marionettes
Tues-Thurs, Feb 18-20 at 10:30am & 1pm


About the show: “An Arabian Adventure” tells the tale of a Persian prince who is thrown into a dungeon because of his love for a beautiful princess. Facing danger at every turn, the courageous prince must battle his way out of the underground prison to save his princess from a tragic fate. The production features over a dozen beautifully hand-crafted marionettes, exquisite “story-book” style scenery, and a soundtrack that combines traditional Western and Middle Eastern music.

About the performers: Founded in 1993 by Peter and Anne Schaefer, Tanglewood Marionettes is a nationally touring marionette company whose unique productions have been seen by hundreds of thousands of children and families across the country. With seven shows currently in their repertoire, the company performs year-round at venues ranging from school assemblies to renowned cultural institutions.

Jennifer Tebo and Peter Schaefer of Tanglewood Marionettes
Performer Peter Schaefer was born into a Boston-area family of puppeteers and has visited Puppet Showplace since he was a child. After apprenticing with the Bennington Puppets, Peter launched his own company, “Mountain Marionettes,” before joining with Anne Schaefer and fellow Bennington puppeteer Stephen Hancock to form Tanglewood Marionettes.

Performer Jennifer Tebo discovered her love of puppetry while pursuing a degree in Theater and Classical Studies at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She has been touring with Tanglewood Marionettes since 2004 and plans to spend a lifetime in puppetry.

The company has received two UNIMA awards, puppetry's highest honor, for their productions "An Arabian Adventure" and "The Dragon King."

UNIMA Awarding-Winning production of "The Dragon King"
by Tanglewood Marionettes
Tanglewood Marionettes believes above all that a performance is a communal experience, with connections established not only with the performers, but also between members of the audience themselves as they laugh together, gasp together, and cheer together when the good guys prevail!

"Poste Restante" at Charlestown Working Theater

Squirrel Stole My Underpants Creator Performs for Adults
by Guest Blogger: Bonnie Duncan, (They Gotta Be Secret Agents)

Bonnie Duncan and Tim Gallagher in "Poste Restante"
Poste Restante: A madly inventive mix of acrobatics, paper, laughter, dance, flight, puppetry, longing, and film…all stuffed neatly into a box.

Before creating "Squirrel Stole My Underpants" at Puppet Showplace, I focused my performing work on adult audiences.  "Poste Restante", a piece I made with my dance partner Tim Gallagher, is returning to Boston Feb 20-23rd at Charlestown Working Theater. 

Beyond being a lovely piece of theater, here are the...

Top 5 Reasons you should go see Poste Restante:

1.  If the child in you enjoyed Squirrel Stole My Underpants, the adult in you will be charmed, wowed, and touched by Poste Restante.  It’s the perfect date-night piece of theater.  Or, bring the kids to our Sunday, Feb 23rd show at 2:00 pm---it’s family-friendly!

2.  You can have it all:  Soulful Acrobatics!  Cheeky Theatre!  Refreshing Dance, Puppetry, & Film!  Tim Gallagher and I perform a brilliantly imaginative form of physical theater, effortlessly moving back and forth between acrobatics, puppetry and dance. Our poetically beautiful, absurdly logical show is by turns funny, dazzling, and, in the end, surprisingly poignant.

3.  Poste Restante brings communication down from a high-tech, instant, "now,now, now" process to a more tangible, visceral level where letters and boxes travel through real space and time, and survive countless potential mishaps along the way.  “The charming performance piece is a love letter to the deep human need we have to connect and the terrible trouble we have in succeeding.” – Culture Map Austin

4.  We perform under the name “They Gotta BeSecret Agents” which is apt, considering how we usually spend our daily lives:  I am the mother of 3 kids under the age of 5, living in Jamaica Plain; Tim is finishing up medical school in New York City and will begin a 4 year residency in Emergency Medicine in June.  We created and currently rehearse this show on the weekends, traveling between cities, mailing various items and ideas through the mail.

5.  This show won “Best Touring Show” (Austin Critic’s Table), “Best of the Fringe” & “Best Physical Comedy” (San Francisco Fringe).  It’s received standing ovations from audiences across the US and Europe.  The Prague Post called Poste Restante "Inspired choreography that is so stark and evocative... this crowd pleaser is not to be missed.”  It was developed with support from the Jim Henson Foundation, Puppeteers of America Endowment grant, Cambridge Arts Council, and the Mass Cultural Council. 

See you and your friends there!

- Bonnie

Monday, February 17, 2014

Learn Mouth and Rod Puppetry at Puppet Showplace!

Furry Monsters 101 with Jonathan Little, Little's Creatures

4 sessions, February 25 - March 18

Tuesdays, 6:30-9:00pm
Members save 10% on registration!


Some characters are too good to keep bottled up. Let out your inner monster with the "Furry Monsters 101" class at Puppet Showplace Theatre taught by master puppeteer Jonathan Little of Little's Creatures. This class is for adults and mature teens ages 16 and up.

Students practicing with puppets made by Little's Creatures at Puppet Showplace.

Take a page of the Muppet, Sesame Street, or saucy Avenue Q handbook and create your own character through the use of a professional hand and rod puppet. Work with “Little Creatures” puppet company founder Jonathan Little, and give life to your inner characters. Will your puppet character be sassy? Meek? A childhood hero or an inner demon? Explore an exciting, visual storytelling medium in a supportive classroom environment with fellow adventurers.

Jon Little of Little's Creatures, Fury Monsters 101 instructor at Puppet Showplace


Jonathan Little is the founder of Little’s Creatures, a full service puppet company based in Medford, MA. Little’s Creatures has built puppets and performed for individuals and companies across the United States and abroad. Current puppetry projects include the Time Machine Guitar TV series and the National Fire Prevention Association’s “Sparky the Fire Dog” fire safety videos. Jon has been a Puppet Showplace teaching artist since 2011.

Jon and Chris Little, Little's Creatures performing Sparky the Fire Dog.

He received his own puppetry training from some of the nation’s best television puppeteers including Muppeteers Martin P. Robinson, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Tyler Bunch, Tim Lagasse, and Jim Kroupa. For the past four years, Jon has worked as the teaching assistant in Jim Kroupa’s mechanism workshop at the Eugene O’Neill National Puppetry Conference. In addition to performing, Jonathan is skilled in the fine arts, including sculpture, film, video, drawing, and painting. He holds a degree from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He is a skilled dancer, with over 14 years of ballet training (Red Shoes Ballet, South Shore Dance, and Boston Ballet). He has also trained in comedy improv with ImprovBoston.


In Furry Monsters 101, participants will learn the proper technique of hand and rod puppetry. Professional puppeteers know how to make these characters appear as living, breathing beings with their own thoughts, desires, and motivations. After learning the basics (breathing, lip-synch, focus, and body position), participants will also be able to bring their own characters to life too. Their hands will start to have minds of their own!

For samples of last year’s students’ creations in the Furry Monsters class checkout Little’s youtube page:

Participants will also cover essentials such as character interpretation, rhythm and timing, storytelling, puppet-assisting , working with props, creating a puppet film, improv and comedy, television monitor technique, and puppet/actor interactions. This is an ideal class for actors, comedians, die-hard Muppet fans, dancers, animators, or anyone interested in learning puppetry.

For those ready to embark on the hilarious, rewarding adventure of bringing your own puppet character to life, “Furry Monsters 101” is the perfect opportunity!

You can find more info about upcoming classes at Puppet Showplace online. CICK HERE.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Behind the Scenes of "The Great Red Ball Rescue"

The Challenges and Rewards of Developing New Work
by Guest Blogger: Sarah Goone, Artistic Intern

Puppet Showplace Artistic Intern Sarah Goone shares her experience assisting local artist Faye Dupras with the creation of "The Great Red Ball Rescue." The show is part of the 2014, "New Year, New Shows" series of world premiere performances by local artists. VIEW CALENDAR

I started working with Faye Dupras on "The Great Red Ball Rescue" a few weeks ago at her studio in her home, which was such a wonderful experience. She let me design and build some important props for her show based off of my own artistic ideas, and really encouraged me to do what I felt was right for the show.

Props created by Sarah Goone for "The Great Red Ball Rescue"
It was another situation in which I would be allowed to have the opportunity to play such a big role and hold so much responsibility for the set of a show. I think that it challenged me as an intern, a student, and an artist in taking the risks to trust my own instincts and skills to create something for another artist’s piece.

Set piece painted by Sarah Goone for "The Great Red Ball Rescue"

Once we moved the show to the Puppet Showplace Theatre for tech week, I helped Faye with her pre-set and am now running the light board for the rest of the shows while I am here. It’s really interesting for me to work the lights because I have only ever been involved in theater as an actor or in stage/costume crews, never in the sound or light area. It’s also great because I get to see the show so many times, and as a new piece of work, I can witness the changes that keep happening.

Sarah Goone and her "The Great Red Ball Rescue" display.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Puppets and Tap Dancing at Puppet Showplace!

Puppets At Night for Adults and Teens presents...

"The Joshua Show" by Joshua Holden
Fri, Feb 28 at 8pm
Sat, Mar 1 at 8pm


Puppets At Night, a series of provocative puppetry performances for adult and teen audiences returns this February with an award-winning production by North Shore native, Joshua Holden! Join us for the amazing vaudeville infused puppets and tap dancing extravaganza that is "The Joshua Show," winner of the 2013 National Puppetry Festival "Fan Favorite," and "Best Performance" awards.

About the show:

Mr. Nicholas, a sock puppet and Joshua’s soulmate, makes an unnerving self-discovery that causes him to spiral down a path of loneliness and hopeless despair. How do you cheer up when life gets you down? Is it possible to be so different from everyone that you are truly alone? Explore these ideas as a world full of whimsy, magic, and abundant joy unfolds before you. The Joshua Show provides audiences with a loving friend to cheer them up and an acknowledgement that when life gets tough, they are not alone.

Blending puppetry, an original score of live musical numbers, physical comedy, and a smattering of tap dancing, the show empowers people of all ages to celebrate their differences. Joshua’s beautifully hand-crafted puppets help us understand the vulnerable feelings associated with the human experience and uncover the immense joy that surrounds us every day.

Joshua Holden in "The Joshua Show"
About the performers:

Joshua Holden is an award winning puppeteer, actor, and joy-maker based in New York City.
Most notably, he was on the Broadway national tour of Avenue Q, and was the Lead Puppeteer on the national tour of Peter Pan 360. Most recently, Joshua worked with international artist Banksy on his controversial NY "Sirens of the Lambs." In August 2013, Joshua was one of 24 puppeteers representing American puppetry at The Puppeteers of America’s National Festival, with The Joshua Show. This proud Massachusetts native is an alumni of the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and has a B.F.A. in Acting from The Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University.

Tim Hansen, composer/musician in "The Joshua Show"
Tim Hansen (b.1978) is an Australian composer and teaching artist. He has had pieces performed in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Belgium, France and Mexico, and has been a composition fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Institute and the Norfolk Contemporary Music Festival. In addition to being short listed for the APRA Professional Development award in 2010 and 2013, he has been awarded the Frank Ponton Memorial Prize, the Darwin International Guitar Festival Composition Prize and an ArtStart Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts. He is a founding director of both ExhAust New Music and the W4 New Music collective in New York.