On April 2nd, 2011, I presented The New American Vaudeville: The Puppet Slam Network, at Puppetry and Postdramatic Performance – an International Conference on Performing Objects in the 21st Century hosted by the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT. In The New American Vaudeville I contextualized growing field of puppet slams – evenings of short-form puppet and object theater for adult audiences. The presentation was informed by my position as co-founder of the Puppet Slam Network which ran from 2005 to 2016.
Underground puppet slams have been popping up everywhere. They feature contemporary short-form puppet and object theater for adult audiences, often late at night in small venues, nightclubs, and art spaces. Puppet Slams exist at the nexus of vaudeville, burlesque, and performance art through the intersection of experimental theater, art, music, and dance as a viable alternative to the culturally homogenous digital mass media.
When was the very first puppet slam? Surely there must have been Paleolithic Slams or something like them with cave people projecting shadows onto their walls by torchlight to communicate the location of food. (Read More)
- June 13, 2012 – National Puppetry Conference,
Eugene O’Neill Center (Waterford, CT)
- April 2, 2011 – Puppetry & Post Dramatic Performance,
University of Conneticut (Storrs)
- July 6th, 2010 – Winnipeg Puppet Collective (Winnipeg, Manitoba)
- July 2009 – National Puppetry Festival, Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
- July 2007 – National Puppetry Festival, Concordia University (St. Paul, MN)
The New American Vaudville was part of Puppet Theatre in New Contexts, a session chaired by Tim Dugan of St. Francis College. Panelists for Puppet Theatre in New Contexts included:
- Rick Mitchell from California State University, Northridge with The Ventriloqual Condition (Unplugged)
- Nenagh Watson from the Central School of Speech & Drama in the United Kingdom with, Ephemeral Animation
- Janni Younge of Handspring Puppet Company (best known for the puppets in War Horse) from South Africa with Creating Resonance in Emptiness with Puppetry
From the Puppetry and Postdramatic Performance website:
Contemporary developments in theatre, the visual arts, and new media are transforming the artistic, critical, conceptual, and commercial landscape for puppetry, one of the world’s oldest art forms. Today, the term puppetry can be applied to a wide range of objects and images presented in live and mediated performance. These performing objects and animated images continue to appear in traditional venues, but are also exploiting new territories, crossing between artistic worlds, even as traditional boundaries between the arts themselves break down. While theatrical theory is just awakening to the post-dramatic, puppetry has always thrived independently of a dependence on dramatic text. This conference seeks to explore new approaches to critical thinking and theorizing about puppetry and performing objects of all kinds and to bring new multidisciplinary views to bear on the subject of puppetry—conceived in the broadest terms—in order to enrich, expand, and enliven the field of discourse. This conference is the first international scholarly puppetry conference in the U.S.
THE NEW AMERICAN VAUDEVILLE PRESENTATION HISTORY
June 2012 – Eugene O’Neill Center (Waterford, CT)
April 2, 2011 – Puppetry & Post Dramatic Performance Conference, UConn (Storrs)
July, 2010 – Winnipeg Puppet Collective (Winnipeg)
July 2009 – Georgia Tech (Atlanta)
July 2007 – Concordia University (St. Paul)