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.

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