Interviews with Slam Artists

From February 10th, 2012 – April 6th, 2013 I published a series of interviews with puppet slam artists and curators for the Puppet Slam Network. The Puppet Slam Network ran for a decade from 2005-2016. It’s focus was on cataloguing, connecting, supporting, and generating awareness for evenings of short-form puppetry for adults.

Subjects included Nick Hubbard (Seattle), Tommy Cannon and Nancy Smith (Phoenix), Res (Toronto), Dylan Shelton (Cincinnati), Christine Papalexis (Los Angeles), Blainor McGough (Portland, ME), Vanessa Gilbert (Providence), Evan O’Television (Boston), Alexander Winfield (London), Kat Pleviak and Jessica Simon (Chicago), Debrah Hunt (San Juan), Enda O. Breadon (Honolulu), Lana Schwarcz (Melbourne), Alissa Hunnicut (Brooklyn), Geppetta (Philadelphia), Carole D’Agostino, Honey Goodenough, and Cathy Shaw (NYC), Roxie Myhrum (Brookline), Valeska Populoh (Baltimore), Beau Brown (Atlanta), and Valerie Meiss (Asheville).

Interviews with Slam Artists

April 6, 2013  

Nick Hubbard + the Fussy Cloud Puppet Slam
Seattle

I think slams are shaking up the conventions of puppetry, in particular around who can make work. They are making the form more accessible to interested people who want an opportunity to test out their own ideas somewhere besides their garage, but may not be at a university or other venue that’s open to broad experimentation. Slams are generating energy and connecting puppeteers across state and international boundaries. Read More

July 4, 2012

Tommy Cannon on the Yanky Panky Puppet Slam
Phoenix

Puppet Slams provide a short form of visual theater that is satisfying in a way that no other entertainment is. They fill the gap of giving grown up audiences the same fun visuals you can get with children’s TV or an art museum visit in a live show. Read More

June 27, 2012

Nancy Smith

Nancy Smith on the Yanky Panky Puppet Slam
Phoenix

The pieces that would translate to other locales or times are monologues by characters, such as Fairytale Mother in which Rapunzel’s mother reflects on losing her child and how fairy tale mothers are overlooked. Turtle Talk is about an angst ridden turtle who talks about sexual identity and loneliness. Read More

 May 31, 2012

Res Plots Toronto Puppet Explosion
Toronto

Canadian theatre is already marginal, meaning Canadian puppet theatre is on the margins of the margins. I think  puppet slams get people who might not want to pay to see an elaborate theatre piece out for some fun, introducing them to what is often experimental art, and perhaps pushing them to seek out more puppet performances. Read More

 May 30, 2012

Dylan Shelton, Strung Out
Cincinnati

The growing popularity of puppet slams has given puppeteers license to showcase some of the most brilliant and innovative and sometimes absurd and bizarre pieces of theatre you will ever see.  Read More

May 27, 2012

Christine Papalexis Has Created A Monster!
Los Angeles

I interviewed Christine Papalexis, president of the Los Angeles Guild of Puppetry and curator of Puppetzilla Puppet Slam in Los Angeles. Christine works in the film industry with special effects and puppetryRead More

May 25, 2012

Blainor McGough

Blainor McGough on King Friday after dark
Portland, ME

King Friday is living in squalor – the castle is now a dilapidated vaudeville house and occasional flop-house for traveling puppets and exotic dancers. We recreated it in cardboard for the slam. Read More

May 14, 2012

"Some of the most memorable shows that we have presented were made by sculptors or visual artists who found their way to puppets as an extension of their art practice" - Vanessa Gilbert, Blood from a Turnip, Providence

Vanessa Gilbert on the Eve of Her Last Late Night Puppet Salon Providence

Some of the most memorable shows that we have presented were made by sculptors or visual artists who found their way to puppets as an extension of their art practice.   Read More

May 8, 2012 -May 10, 2012

Evan O'Television

Don’t change the channel – its Evan O’Television!
Boston

Part 1

As a live performer I had my head in a cardboard “TV-Shaped” box, directly across from the actual TV, and as a live performer claimed to be an animatronic puppet. The piece consisted mainly of the TV and I arguing about when the actual live performer was going to show up. Read More

Part 2

Maintain a spirit of adventurousness and experimentation but also never forget the importance of the audience.  What is the journey you are hoping to take them on?  How successful are you?  Whenever experimental work forgets to continuously engage or reward the audience then it misses the inherently conversational nature of live theater and risks being over-indulgent. Read More

April 24, 2012 – April 25, 2012

Alexander Winfield-1


Aargh!: The Alexander Winfield Story
London

Part 1

At no other slam I’ve attended were the acts interrupted by the actions of waves against the barge. Our sea-legs were sorely tested. Read More

Part 2

Inspiration can come from many sources: a banal occurrence seen while walking home, a dream, a piece from a history book. Who knows? Inspiration is a funny beast. Read More

April 20, 2012

Kat Pleviak is having a Puppet Meltdown!
Chicago

A note to producers: Your slam performers are your guests and it should be your number one goal to help them succeed and have a great experience. A note to performers: be true to your work. If you walk into an event and can see your piece won’t work, pull it. It does not help you to do a piece that disappoints based on a technicality. Know your work and show it to it’s best. Read More

April 18, 2012

"Slams are 'breeding grounds' for further work. They give me a new chance to experiment with a new technique, mechanism, or personal challenge" - Deborah Hunt, Noches de Cabaret, San Juan
The Deborah Hunt Interview
San Juan

slams are “breeding grounds” for further work. They give me a chance to experiment with a new technique, mechanism, or  personal challenge. Read More

April 16, 2012 – April 17, 2012

Enda O. Breadon Interview
Honolulu

Enda O. Breadon curates the Kolohe Puppet Slam in Honolulu and has worked as an actor, director, movement coach and playwright across the United States and Europe.  As a teaching artist in creative drama, Enda employs both clowning and puppetry.  His lifelong love of puppets has led him to include them in a number of shows that he’s written and directed.  While living in Atlanta, he was mentored by Clint Thornton and Spencer Stephens, who he met at the Center for Puppetry Arts.  Read More Part 1,
Read More Part 2 

April 10, 2012

Lana Schwarcz

Down Under with Lana Schwarcz
Melbourne

Most of our slams are no tech, and we ask the audience to bring torches to light the artists.  It’s slightly shambolic but a really great way to present the night and the audience stays engaged and interactive. Read More

March 14, 2012

Alissa Hunnicutt

Serving up New Brew: Alissa Hunnicutt
Brooklyn

I couldn’t have gotten the pieces ready without using puppet slams as my development sandbox.  Read More

March 11, 2012

Geppetta
Geppetta on Puppets, Flammability & High Maintenance Alter Egos

Slams are like magnets for innovative weirdness. Read More

March 10, 2012

Is this Pandemic Goodenough?
NYC

I think of puppet slams as more than just one show, but a rather a collection of shows that the audience gets to see in one sitting. I think the format really appeals to today’s audience. And it can give wings to young artists who are learning how to create full-length works. Read More


"I think 'slam' is a great word to describe this: a puppet slam is a high-impact event." - Roxie Myhrum, Puppet Showplace Slam, Brookline

March 9, 2012

Chatting with Slam Curator Roxie Myhrum
Brookline

I think “slam” is a great word to describe this: a puppet slam is a high-impact event. Read More

February 16, 2012

 

Jessica Simon
Jessica Simon Gets Nasty, Brutish & Short
Chicago

slams are a great way to introduce audiences to many different styles of puppetry and get them to realize that it’s not just kid stuff.  Also, it helps audiences develop their palate.  If there is a short piece that sucks, maybe they’ll learn that the piece itself was bad, not that all puppetry is bad. Read More

February 14, 2012

Valeska Populoh
Valeska Populoh serves Baltimore flavor with Puppet Slamwich!, Baltimore

Go watch a lot of performers. See what makes people laugh and respond. See what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be discouraged if your first performances flop or have flaws. Keep performing and making more work and seeing more work and talking to other performers in order to learn and grow! Read More

February 14, 2012

Geeking out on Puppet Slams with Beau Brown
Atlanta

The structure of the slams gives me the kick in the pants and I need to write something.  Since puppetry is the synthesis of all art forms (visual art, voice, and movement), it opens so many doors to so many different kinds of artists.  Read More

February 13, 2012

Valerie Meiss

Lives of the Slam Artists:
An Interview with Valerie Meiss
Asheville, NC

M: What inspires you to create a puppet slam piece?
VM: beauty, chaos, unfinished stories in my head, songs, friends of mine, relationships, odd facts I recall from history class… anything and everything! Read More

February 11, 2012

Carole D_Agostino

Lives of the Slam Artists
An Interview with Carole D’Agostino

young people who can be labeled “hipsters” love the new puppet world. I think older folks who always loved theater can enjoy a slam. I think yes- the slam IS important but what needs to be emphasized is that yes- there is a scrappy nature to the show but there MUST be some attempt on the part of the performers to grow, rehearse, develop, refine. It can’t always be scrappy- or the audience will turn away. Read More

February 10, 2012

Jane Catherine Shaw

Cathy Shaw in Conversation
NYC

Its important to me that artists earn something for their work. Its important that it be part of what we know bout ourselves as artists, and that we begin to make it a part of what audiences know too. We contribute something important to culture and society. We earn our living doing it. Puppet Art Attacks receives a Puppet Slam Network grant and a good portion of it pays the artists for participating. We also give them a percentage of the door (the theater takes its cut first). This is real important to me, so I share that with you. Read More

 

 

 

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