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national puppetry conference

The National Puppetry Conference provides a meeting and creating ground for master artisans to pass their craft and ingenuity to new artists in the field of puppetry.

Applications Coming Early 2023!

Pre-Conference

May/June 2023

Specific Dates TBA

Main Conference

Early June 2023

Specific Dates TBA

The National Puppetry Conference encourages puppet artists to create and communicate through the visual and kinetic form of the puppet, to push beyond their personal boundaries, and develop new works for puppet theater. Each June, participants gather from across the globe to create works that defy the bounds of contemporary theater and the imagination. Participants collaborate with renowned guest directors, puppet artists, and playwrights to develop innovative productions conceived by guest artists, as well as presentations initiated by the Conference participants.

 

Past conference participants have gone on to work in such venues as HERE Arts Center, Dixon Place, La MaMa, Redmoon, The Puppet Showplace, The Sandglass Theatre, Trouble Puppet, The Center for Puppetry Arts, Zeum, Automata Theater. Their work has also been seen in commercials; in films such as Being John Malkovich, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The Muppets; and on television, including Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Saturday Night Live, and Bear in the Big Blue House. On the global stage, our puppeteers have gone on to produce and perform in shows in Afghanistan, Iran, Australia, Scotland, India, Uganda, and China.

 

The O’Neill's National Puppetry Conference was established by key founding members Jane Henson, George Latshaw, Richard Termine, Bobbi Nidzgorski, Bart P. Roccoberton Jr., and Jim and Margo Rose and is dedicated to the legacies of Bill Baird, Jim Henson, Rufus and Margo Rose, Don Sahlin, Martin Stevens, Burr Tillstrom, Brad Williams, Nikki Tilroe, and George Latshaw in the spirit with which they shared their artistry and themselves.

Applications for the 2023 Conference will open in early 2023! 

Strands available to select from for the Pre-Conference and the Main Conference will be posted .

Preplists

If you are interested in applying for 2023, you can review old application preplists for a general idea of the application process. Please note that only complete applications will be considered for acceptance.

2023 Tuition Information Coming Soon!

 

2022 Tuition was as follows (for reference)- Includes Room & Board

  • Pre-Conference: $650 per strand

  • Main Conference: $1,250 per strand (excluding Emerging Artist)

  • Additional Fees

    • $50 Materials Fee for participants of Mechanism Workshop with Jim Kroupa (pre-Conference)

    • $50 Materials Fee for participants of Woodcarving with Carlo Adinolfi (pre-Conference)

Scholarships

The application for scholarships (except the O'Neill Puppetry Conference Grant, courtesy of the National Capital Puppetry Guild) is included within the application for conference attendance. If necessary, we highly encourage all applicants to apply for a scholarship. 

Jim Rose Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship honors Jim Rose, one of the great marionette masters, beloved Conference mentor, and son of Margo & Rufus Rose. This scholarship is awarded to puppeteers who have a special interest in marionette construction and manipulation.

Allelu Kurten Generous Spirit Scholarship

Please help us honor the memory of the one and only Allelu Kurten with a donation to the "Generous Spirit Scholarship" that has been created in her memory.

 

Lisa Simon Scholarship

On April 4, 2015, we lost a dear friend in Lisa Simon, longtime producer and director on Sesame Street, on her 64th birthday. Winner of 20 Emmys over a career spanning four decades, Lisa started with a summer job as a file clerk and a caretaker for children who appeared on the show during the early days and rose to supervising producer/director of Sesame Street. She directed shows for Between the Lions, Oobi and many humanitarian outreach projects. The Lisa Simon scholarship is awarded to a female director whose work is currently or is growing in the puppet arts.

 

Jerry Nelson Scholarship

This scholarship honors one of the great character puppeteers, Jerry Nelson, and is awarded to puppeteers who have a special interest in character and vocal development of puppet performances.

 

Alumni Grants

Alumni Grants are awarded to returning participants who display a desire to retool their thinking about their work in the art of puppetry. These artists display a strong desire to learn new skills or challenge themselves in unconventional ways thus bringing a newly invigorated desire for growth to the conference and to themselves. The Alumni Grants began through the efforts of alumna Honey Goodenough, the Conference indebted to this ardent artist and all who helped her to support this grassroots effort.

 

Connecticut Guild of Puppetry Scholarship in honor of Margo Rose

Given by the Connecticut Guild of Puppetry. Margo Rose was one of American Puppetry's pioneers, with over 60 years of contributions to the field. In 1931, Margo, with her husband Rufus, started the Rufus Rose Marionettes. They were founding members of the Puppeteers of America and organized the first festival in 1937. Rufus and Margo are perhaps best known for giving life to the marionettes of the popular television program Howdy Doody. The couple went on to win a Peabody Award for the best children's program for their series The Blue Fairy. In addition, Margo was a founding member of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in 1964 and one of the founders of the National Puppetry Conference at the O'Neill in 1991.

Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship

The Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship is intended to build and promote the community of historically marginalized puppeteers in this country. Past recipients have gone on to join the casts of many well known television and Broadway shows, as well as create and perform their own small works of puppet theater. All are encouraged to apply with passion.

O'Neill Puppetry Conference Grant, courtesy of National Capital Puppetry Guild

​The O'Neill Conference Grant is offered to guild members under the age of thirty who are accepted by the conference for first-time attendance. It is a need-based, partial scholarship designed to offset a participant's expenses while there. Application is open to all members in good standing of the NCPG. Applicants must apply directly to National Capital Puppetry Guild for consideration.

All gifts toward puppetry scholarships are appreciated and go directly to support the next generation of puppetry artists. Click here to make a donation, or contact development@theoneill.org for more information.

2023 Pre-Conference Strand Information Coming Soon!

2023 Main Conference Strand Information Coming Soon!

Pam Arciero, Artistic Director of the National Puppetry Conference

Pam Arciero is a principal puppeteer with Sesame Street, performing numerous characters, most notably Grundgetta Grouch. She has worked on many adult and children's programs including Between the Lions, Blue's Clues Blue's Room, Chappell's Show, Allegra's Window, The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, TV Funhouse, Oobi, Eureeka's Castle and The Great Space Coaster. She has performed in many commercials and films, including Zappos, Fuze, Angel Soft, Sundance Myths, Sundance Film Festival; Extreme Measures, Little Monsters, and Follow That Bird.

 

As a stage director, she directed Iftah Ya Simsim-Sesame Street Saudi Arabia, Sesame Live Shows for Sesame Place, Beaches Turks and Caicos, Beaches Jamaica, Port Adventura, Barcelona, Spain; Sea World Orlando; Play with Me Sesame Live, US tours; and Disney's Wahoo Wagon at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles. Pam directed the film Whiskey Neat, and she has also directed Between the Lions and Oobi for television.

 

She has taught for the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the University of Hawaii, Sesame Street International; South Africa; remotely for Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Taipei National University of the Arts, the University of Connecticut, and California State University, Fresno. Pam holds a BA in Dance and Drama from the University of Hawaii and a MA in Puppetry from the University of Connecticut.

​2023 Faculty & Staff Coming Soon! 

Previous faculty and staff members have included:

  • Pam Arciero, Artistic Director

  • Jean Marie Keevins, Associate Artistic Director

  • Calvin Tamura, Artistic Associate, Participant Project Mentor

  • Carlo Adinolfi, Guest Artist, Wood Carving

  • Tyler Bunch, Resident Company/Emerging Artist Mentor, Participant Project Mentor, & Pub Host

  • Dr. Melissa Dunphy, Guest Artist, Director of Musical Composition

  • Matt Dunphy, Guest Artist, Music Assistant

  • Alice Gottschalk, Guest Artist, Materials Movement, Marionette Performance

  • Kurt Hunter, Guest Artist, Marionette Building

  • Ulysses Jones, Shop Supervisor

  • Seth Koprowski, Production Assistant, Mr. Lee

  • Jim Kroupa, Guest Artist, The Howdy Doo Show, Part Duh

  • Tim Lagasse, Guest Artist, Video Anarchy

  • Claude Lapointe, Counselor

  • Tom Lee, Guest Artist, Puppetry Manipulations

  • Jon Little, Assistant to Mr. Kroupa

  • Jane Martineau, Director of Resident Company and Participant Project Mentor

  • Bobbi Nidzgorski, Resident Company Mentor, Participant Project Mentor, Conference Co-Founder

  • Helena Pennington, O'Neill Resident Dramaturg

  • David Regan, Production Associate

  • Martin P. Robinson, Guest Artist, Video Anarchy

  • Bart Roccoberton, Director of Production, Conference Co-Founder

  • Rachel Roccoberton Griffin, Production Assistant, Mr. Kroupa

  • Luis Santeiro, Guest Artist, Writing

  • Richard Termine, Director of Emerging Artists, Participant Project Mentor

We assembled a list of frequently asked questions for your convenience, but should you prefer to ask your questions directly to a member of our staff, you may contact puppetry@theoneill.org.

 

If I’ve been to the National Puppetry Conference before, do I have to apply again?

Yes! A completed online universal application is always required.

Can I apply for both pre-Conference and Main Conference strands?

Yes!

 

What is the application fee to apply for the conference?

$25.00 USD

 

How do I pay the application fee?

If you are using our online form to submit your application, you will be guided through the payment process step-by-step as you finalize your application. We are glad to accept both debit and credit cards. There are a limited number of fee waivers on a first-come, first-served basis. If you would like to request a fee wavier, please reach out directly to us at puppetry@theoneill.org before you begin your online application.

If I'm selected to attend the conference, will the O'Neill provide housing?

Yes. Conference participants will be provided with dormitory-style housing in double or single rooms. All rooms include beds, desks, dressers, and closets. Community bathrooms, private bathrooms, and shower rooms are available. 

 

Are meals provided? And can dietary restrictions be accommodated? 

Yes. Three meals a day are served on-site by our resident chefs. Special consideration is given to accommodate dietary restrictions, and all applicants are asked to provide their dietary restrictions in our application form. The O'Neill cafeteria offers continual access to snacks and beverages throughout the day and into the evening. 

 

Does the O'Neill cover travel or provide transportation to the National Puppetry Conference? 

The O'Neill is unable to cover the cost of your travel to the National Puppetry Conference. 

 

Where are the nearest airports to the O'Neill? 

The O'Neill campus is located in Waterford, CT. If you are flying into the area, the nearest airports are Providence International Airport (PVD) and Hartford-Bradley Airport (BDL). We are able to arrange transportation from the airport to the O'Neill. Please reach out to the Company Management team at companymanager@theoneill.org to schedule a pickup. 

 

If I'm selected to attend, could I drive to the O'Neill campus? Is parking available on-site? 

Yes. Please reach out to our Company Management team at companymanager@theoneill.org. They will provide you with a parking pass upon arrival.

Funding for the National Puppetry Conference is provided by the Jane Henson Foundation.

30 years of puppetry

Timeline Photo Credits: Richard Termine, Jean Marie Keevins, Isaak Berliner, A. Vincent Scarano.

Participant Presentations
Puppeteer in Workshop
Puppet Manipulation
Puppet Eyepieces
Object Manipulation
NatPup988
NatPup93
Crave by Ronnie Burkett