UNIMA-USA (Support)

In 2008, I was the recipient of funding from UNIMA-USA for the run of Growing Up Linda at the Edinburgh Fringe

Growing Up Linda - Edinburgh, poster design: Anne Mills Coté
Growing Up Linda – Edinburgh, poster design: Anne Mills Coté

Growing Up Linda was an ensemble actor-puppetry performance in which a woman who believes she’s the daughter of a famous ice cream mogul must come to terms with her troubled past.  

I used The Scholarship for Foreign Study to attend the Edinburgh Festival Theater Program, a two week long residency-workshop which was jointly administered by the Royal Welsh Academy of Music and Drama (RWAMD) and California Institute for the Arts for the past several years during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which I attended August 4th – 19th, 2008. The Edinburgh Festival Theater  Program fosters on-going international artist relationships and professional enrichment through theatre practice.

There was a good deal of blood, sweat and tears which extended months before the residency-workshop – writing, building and rehearsing LINDA with an initial workshop run at CalArts in early May. I spent the summer editing down the show with guidance from my mentor, Janie Geiser and helpful feedback from the CalArts community and attendees of the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. I trimmed the run time from 80 minutes to just under an hour keeping what was most essential to the story.

I worked closely with a production manager (who became my left hand) to see exactly what could fit into a crate (shipped weeks in advance) and suitcases, all within weight and international fire code. We made tough choices, cutting scenes and puppets, and deciding whether or not to remake some.  A couple of the set pieces were even recreated on the fly after we arrived.  I learned a great deal about thinking on my feet, looking at the big picture, managing an entire team, with hands on experience with timelines, budgeting, marketing, fundraising, making compromises and how to best capitalize on peoplesʼ strengths and work within their limitations (including my own).

Growing Up Linda, Edinburgh, 2008, Photo: Ian Garett

I departed with a talented team of 15 dedicated performers, designers and managers August 4th, 2008 on an overnight flight and it wasnʼt soon after we arrived in Edinburgh that we hit the ground running. We met with Scottish students who staffed and managed Venue 13 (a community center turned make shift black box performance space every year during the Fringe) with shows that performed around the clock every hour in rep throughout the week. We had a limited number of tech hours, but between our team and the Welsh students we managed to set up the entire show in under half an hour (including installing and striking a cyc, dance floor, lights, and a mountain of puppets, pop-ups and performing objects). I was amazed each time that this was even possible and within just a couple of days, we opened for previews.

I networked with students from the RWAMD and theatre artists from around the world (including U.S. puppeteers like Lake Simons who just happened to be doing laundry in the hostel where I was staying at the exact same time). I  saw some eye-opening shows – my favorite was a hilariously inspiring anti-Disney themed puppet musical from Australia. I got real life practice in what it takes to make a long form puppet piece transportable for touring, including the development of the necessary self- producing, marketing and fund-raising skills.

I learned the importance of good P.R. and what that looks like at a Fringe Festival . The actors would reenact excerpts on the Royal Mile daily, while the designers barked at passers-by, and plastered the city with posters.  I have taken the valuable insights I have learned during this program into the planning stages of my next production, Bride of Wildenstein – The Musical, which will be a one-person touring production with an eye on planning and budgeting for a multi- year, multi-city tour.

Having the opportunity to create and tour my first full-length puppet-actor hybrid show to Edinburgh Fringe Festival went beyond my wildest dreams and what I could have learned in the classroom. I am eternally grateful to UNIMA for its Foreign Assistance Scholarship, which helped enormously with the expenses of attending the Edinburgh Fringe.

UNIMA-USA Logo Grants Scholarship 2008 2011 2012


Based in Atlanta at the Center for Puppetry Arts, UNIMA-USA  is the North American Center of Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the oldest international theatre organization in the world. UNIMA-USA’s mission is to promote international understanding and friendship through the art of puppetry.

Founded in 1929, Union Internationale de la Marionnette is an organization in which all those people in the world concerned with the Art of the Puppet Theatre associate voluntarily in order to serve through their art the idea of peace and of mutual understanding without distinction as to race, political ideas or religion.


Since 1982, UNIMA-USA has issued funding to over 40 individuals to pursue puppetry enrichment opportunities abroad, including:

2012 Nick Hubbard
Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany

2011 Erik Finck
Puppets in Prague

2010 Lisi Stoessel
Jankai Ranpura
Puppets in Prague

2008 Marsian DeLellis
CalArts program in Edinburgh

2007 Yvette Edery

2006 Yvette Edery
Academy, Stuttgart

2004 Emily DeColla
Academy, Stuttgart

2003 Sarah Frechette
Academy, Stuttgart

2003 Dmitri Carter

2003- Serra Hirsch

2001 Vivian Appler
Dell’Arte Course, Bali

2001 Emily Wilson

1997- Victoria McCreary
Central School of Speech + Drama London

1997 Cathy McCullogh

1997 Julie Morrison
Summer Academy, Stutttgart

1996 Wendy Passmore
Beth Peterson

1995 Brigit Burnes Charleville

1994 Bill Stout Charleville

1993 Blair Thomas Charleville

1991 Aaron Bowie
Preston Foerder
Mindy Donner

1990 Rolande Duprey
Dirk Hays
Brigit Burnes
Suzy Ferris

1989 Susan Bettmann
Patti Smith

1988 Terry Snyder
Tony Palumbo

1987 Michael Nelson

1986 Barbara Nidzgorski

1985 Preston Foerder
Andrew Periale
Frances Silenzi

1984 John + Carol Farrell Will Cabell
Barbara Pollitt

1983 Susan Clark
Daniel Tamulonis

1982 Sarah Germain
Debra Kaufman
Paul Mesner
Shirley Roman