Category Archives: Puppets

Bread & Puppet heading to Pittsburgh

For Immediate Release!

BREAD and PUPPET THEATER to perform at The Brew House

Bread & Puppet Theater presents The Decapitalization Cabaret

Where: Brew House Space 101 Gallery, 2100 Mary Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203

When: Saturday, April 23rd, 7:00 PM

How Much: “Pay what you wish.”

Puppets are on a roll in Pittsburgh this year. Two shows in as many months! On Saturday, April 23rd, internationally-recognized puppetry activists Bread & Puppet Theater (Glover, Vermont) will be making a stop on their Mid-Atlantic tour on the South Side for a show at the newly re-opened Brew House Space 101 Gallery.  This latest edition of Bread & Puppet Theater’s cabaret series features the Kaspars’ interpretation of justice, an operatic argument about farms vs. jails, instructions on how to nab that alien, the can cans (and can’t can’ts) of universal health care, and much more. The Decapitalization Orchestra will provide soothing sounds for winter weary nerves.

Several organizations including the Brew House, ArtUp, Puppet Happening, Schmutz Co. and “Joy Toujours & The Toys Du Jours” partnered to make this show possible.   The event will be open seating and “pay what you wish.”  The troupe will pass a hat at the end of the cabaret.

As with all Bread & Puppet shows, a “Cheap Art” sale will follow the performance.  This is a rare chance to pick up memorabilia, puppet how-to booklets and hand-pulled prints.

Founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet Theater is an internationally renowned company that champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art filled with music, dance and slapstick. Its shows are political and spectacular, with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard.

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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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Puppet Happening

Along with fellow puppeteers Mike Cuccaro and Flora Shepherd, I have begun developing a new Pittsburgh Puppet Festival.  Puppet Happening is the name.  We aim to establish a city-wide presence and to produce events throughout the year.  With an intense amount of start-up activity, I have had little time for blogging.

Our promotional activities begin tomorrow night (March 4th, 2011) at the Unblurred first Friday gallery crawl in the Garfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  We are occupying a studio at the Glass Lofts through March 19th and will have an open house at the Unblurred, followed by cabaret shows on March 17th and 19th.  Check out our new web page for details.




















Our temporary home at the Glass Lofts, Pittsburgh.







Puppet Happening crew.

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Brew House Studio 2005

This was my studio at the Brew House, a non-profit artist co-op located on the South Side of Pittsburgh.  Below are some photographs of the space from 2003 –  2005.  I was creating puppet shows, paintings, drawings and lots of kinetic sculpture at the time.  To get to the studio, I had to take an old freight or passenger elevator. (depending on which one was working)  The window looked out on a dilapidated wall of rusty pipes in a corridor of the 1890 brewery building.  To visitors, I probably seemed like the Sebastian character from Blade Runner, living in an old industrial structure with a bunch of puppets!

This was the “kitchen” area.








Puppets and props.


Below, the spice rack.  The yellowed paper on the wall was a list of

Duquesne Brewery employees that I discovered in the room.








My puppet group completed the show Perseus, Medusa and the Magic Frisbee in the space.  The hour-long production involving ten puppeteers, four voice actors, two musicians and twenty puppets was featured at the Black Sheep Puppet Festival in 2003.









I constantly thought the place was haunted.

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(2010) Puppet made with plastic bottle, glue, wood, paper, glue, nuts, bolts and paint.

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more puppets on the way…

When “in doubt” or “down and out” make puppets!  I may or may not be on the verge of one, both or neither, but at least I’m having fun.  Puppet exhibit will be announced soon.

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Life in the Big Cities

1999 – Twelve years ago in Pittsburgh.  I was as knowledgeable about puppetry as I as was about mechanical engineering.  For the first Black Sheep Puppet Festival, I built life-sized puppets out of inch-thick plywood.  Music was a mix of Sonic Youth, Pixies, Talking Heads and contemporary jazz samples that I captured with a tape recorder.  The only smart move was making the giant snake out of foam core.  The plot was ridiculous.  (Most likely comparable to an episode of Beverly Hills 90210)  The following year, I found help in recording original music.  Puppets evolved into lightweight creatures with movable parts.  The plots became more complex.

I recently converted my documentation of the show. (from VHS!)  Above are a few stills.


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