national puppetry conference

Pam Arciero, Artistic Director

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. Each June, participants gather from across the globe to create works that defy the bounds of contemporary theater and the imagination.

Download the 2020 PUP One Sheet for the full overview of the 2020 Conference.


The mission of the National Puppetry Conference is to encourage 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. 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.

artistic director

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. Pam is the Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Jim Henson Foundation. 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.

frequently asked questions

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 literary staff, you are more than welcome. The O'Neill's Literary Office can be reached at or 860.443.5378 x227. 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. What is the application fee to apply for the conference? $35.00 USD How do I pay the application fee? If you are using our online form to submit your script, 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 before you begin your online application.


Applications for the 2020 National Puppetry Conference are open January 23 - February 28, 2020, If you are interested in applying for 2020, please review the preplist that correspond to strands of your interest for a general idea of the application process. Please note that only complete applications will be considered for acceptance.

> Sign-up for PUP updates

faculty & staff

Pam Arciero, Artistic Director Jean Marie Keevins, Associate Artistic Director Tyler Bunch, Performance Coach Ronnie Burkett, Guest Artist Tom Cariello, Artistic Associate Sharon Challenger, Artistic Associate Dr. Melissa Dunphy, Director, Musical Composition Matt Dunphy, Music Composition Eduardo Felix, Artist in Residence Aymee Garcia, Performance Coach James Godwin, Performance Coach Alice Gottschalk, Movement Coach and Co-Director of the 30th Anniversary Festival Rachel Griffin Roccoberton, Stage Manager Kurt Hunter, Assistant to Mr. Rose Ulysses Jones, Master Craftsman Seth Koporksi, Stage Manager Jim Kroupa, Mechanisms Master, Guest Artist Jonathan Little, Shop Supervisor Jane Martineau, Co-Director, Resident Company Kalob Martinez, Assistant to Ronnie Burkett Tim McKeon, Guest Artist Fabrizio Montecchi, Guest Artist Jim Napolitano, Associate Guest Artist Bobbi Nidzgorski, Co-Director, Resident Company Bernd Ogrodnik , Guest Artist Yael Rasooly, Artist in Residence Bart Roccoberton, Production Manager Jim Rose, Marionette Master, Construction Edwin Salas, Guest Artist Calvin Tamura, Artistic Associate Richard Termine, Co-Director, Emerging Artists Derron Wood, Co-Director, Emerging Artists


All gifts toward puppetry scholarships are appreciated and go directly to support the next generation of puppetry artists. Click below to make a donation, or contact for more information. The application for scholarships is included within the application for conference attendance. Please note that scholarships are only awarded to applicants applying for a Main Conference strand. Allelu Kurten Generous Spirit Scholarship Please help us honor the memory of the one and only Allelu Kurtenwith a donation to the "Generous Spirit Scholarship" that has been created in her memory. > Give Now 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. > Give Now 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. > Give Now 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. > Give Now 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. > Give Now Eric Engelhardt Memorial Scholarship The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center offers this scholarship for anyone who is in financial need and shows a talent and commitment to the art of puppetry. The O'Neill Center recognizes the need to continue to support the art of puppetry while holding participants to a higher standard to further the development of puppet works. This is a need-based scholarship awarded to conference candidates who are in need of financial support. > Give Now Minority Scholarship The Minority Scholarship is intended to build and promote the community of minority 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. > Give Now Ralph E. Cheese Minority Scholarship The Ralph E. Cheese Minority Scholarship is intended to build and promote the community of minority 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. > Give Now

Funding for the National Puppetry Conference provided by: the Jane Henson Foundation and O'Neill Annual Fund donors

30 years of puppetry

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

Puppeteer in Workshop
Participant Presentations
Puppet Eyepieces
Puppet Manipulation


Eugene O'Neill Theater Center

305 Great Neck Road

Waterford, CT 06385

Administrative Offices: (860) 443-5378



  • Black Facebook Icon
  • Black Twitter Icon
  • Black Instagram Icon
  • Black YouTube Icon