Premiere Event for the Puppet Happening


New Puppetry Organization Offers “Open House Cabaret” at the Glass Lofts March 17th and 19th

Pittsburgh, PA – March 6, 2011 – For a city that has been missing an arts organization dedicated to puppetry performance for more than two years, good news is on the way. The Puppet Happening, a nascent collaboration featuring past organizers of the Black Sheep Puppet Festival, is rolling out plans to bring puppets to the city not just at an annual Fall festival, but all year long. As the new company is shaped, the organizers are staging two performances of local puppeteers to reconnect with the city’s diaspora of puppet artists and fans. The two cabaret evenings will feature work from organizers Tom Sarver, Flora Shepherd, and Mike Cuccaro, along with Pittsburgh newcomer and recent UConn Puppetry Arts graduate Zach Dorn. The performance dates are: Thursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19 at 8pm at the Glass Lofts (2nd Floor Retail Space, 5485 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206). The performances are geared for a mature audience. Suggested donation is $10 but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. Thanks to our community partner, Friendship Development Associates.

Long-time puppetry performer and organizer Tom Sarver (who will also serve as Puppet Happening’s Executive and Artistic Director) will perform Punchinello vs. the Schmoovaggios, a semi-traditional “Punch” hand-puppet show where the rascally and violence-prone Punchinello takes on his high-class neighbors in a fight to the death.  Lewd and rude, Punchinello gains and loses body parts as he tangles with angry shih tzus, combative conductors, amorous ladies, and… unicorns?

New Orleans-native and lifelong puppeteer Flora Shepherd brings us In the Night, a one-woman puppet show.  This dark, adult fairy tale features magic, hidden secrets, and a red accordion.  A young girl is called forth to save one she loves from deep inside the forest.  But first she must navigate menacing abstract shapes, unfamiliar sounds, and her own fears. Her journey is brought to life through a combination of string, table-top, hand, and rod puppetry techniques. Will she escape from the forest? or will its shadowy figures absorb her into their dark unknown?

Puppeteer Zach Dorn makes his Pittsburgh debut with Real Live Puppets! A collection of short puppet performances that employ the fashionable Victorian tradition of Toy Theater. Armed with paper dolls, a VCR, and a miniature stage, Dorn plans to entertain guests in attendance. Following the toy theater performance, Dorn will project moving, intricate paper cut-outs onto the wall of the loft space with overhead projectors from local Pittsburgh Elementary schools. Guests are encouraged to bring a pair of their finest field glasses in order to inspect the hand crafted quality of the moving objects in this theater of miniature.

While the Puppet Happening plans to make the October 13-15 festival (location tba soon) the official “launch” of the organization, there will be several more opportunities to showcase puppetry throughout the city before then. Keep an eye on or search “Puppet Happening” on Facebook for updates. For press graphics, please visit:

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