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The Puppet Happening

The Puppet Happening :: Mission

The Puppet Happening, Pittsburgh's puppet festival and presenting organization, aims to strengthen the Pittsburgh puppeteer community by providing a support structure for puppetry performance. By promoting experimentation through collaborations with visual and performing artists of other disciplines, we aim to grow the audience for puppetry in the Pittsburgh region. We aim to establish a city-wide, year-round presence that challenges the definition of puppetry performance, promotes diversity, explores a dynamic scope of topics, and links Pittsburgh with the national puppetry scene.

Funding for Puppet Happening is provided by the A.W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Puppet Happening is a member of Puppeteers of America and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.


The Puppet Happening :: Events

PittsburghSunday, November 15, 2pm :: Three Rivers-Pittsburgh Puppetry Guild Meeting
A Pittsburgh puppetry guild is forming
Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. 6300 5th Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

A Pittsburgh puppetry guild is forming. The guild will be a regional chapter of Puppeteers of America. Puppetry enthusiasts and puppeteers of all levels are invited to participate. We will elect officers, discuss a possible grant, and have a "show and tell." Bring a puppet or object with which to introduce yourself and your work. This will help us get to know each other. As this is the first weekend of "Holiday Shop," featuring the work of local artists, you might want to come early or stay late to shop.

from Shadows of TrafalmadoreSunday, November 15, 8pm :: Detroit or Death Puppet Tour
A Caravan of Crankies, Critiques, and Cudgels
$8-$20 sliding scale (no one turned away for lack of funds), 3577 Bigelow Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (entrance on Bethoven street)

Here comes a High Art, Low Concept night of slow-moving picture shows, fast-moving puppet shows, and semi functional technology of the middle ages, all in 2 and occasionally 3 dimensions. A cabaret to make us laugh and/or cry about the state of everything, full of instantly gratifying puppet shows for a fiscally conservative and morally decaying society. Accompanied by the "When Will You Admit Your Mother Was Right" Brass Band.

Featuring works by: Bread and Puppet Theater, The Port Quincy Theater Collective, The SemiUpright Puppet Company, & The Better-Than-Never Theater Company. Acts include Shadows of Trafalmadore from "Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut, Weasel Vs. The World (an episodic rod puppet calamity), and TOSCA: The Complete Opera. Cabaret runs about one hour in total.

The Puppet Happening :: Past Events

The Girl Who Swallowed the SunFriday, November 6 - Sunday, November 8 :: The Girl Who Swallowed the Sun
Felicia Cooper presents a tale of light, courage, and strength
Various locations, see below

The Girl Who Swallowed The Sun, by Felicia Cooper, will be performed in Pittsburgh at a variety of locations over the weekend of November 6 through 8. With marionettes, shadow puppets, and one large-scale puppet that weaves together heliocentric mythology, Cooper tells a story with themes of light, courage, and strength. The show is made entirely out of repurposed and recycled materials, and while it's geared towards kids, adults will find it enjoyable as well. Performance details:
11/6 Children's Museum of Pittsburgh 2 & 3 pm
11/6 Irma Freeman Center for Imagination 8 & 9 pm
11/7 East End Book Exchange 12pm
11/7 House Show at the Mini Museum (Bloomfield) 8pm
11/8 Children's Museum of Pittsburgh 12 & 2 pm

Cubby and Rip Van WinkleSunday, October 25, 11am-3pm :: Westmoreland Museum of American Art Free Community Day
Including a new four-part puppet show, puppet building, and a parade
Free. Westmoreland Museum of American Art. 221 N. Main St., Greensburg, PA 15601. 724-837-1500

Speckled Bird and Mike KesselCelebrate the Grand Re-Opening of the remodeled and expanded Westmoreland Museum of American Art with a host of activities, a marching band, and puppets! Build your own puppet! Take part in the puppet parade! Watch a brand new four-part puppet show from Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro: Rip Van Winkle and The Crazy Quilt based on the Museum's very own collection. Meet Rip and Cubby the dog in Part 1: The Story of Rip at 11:15am in the Barclay Gallery. Part 2: Inside the Steel Mill at 12:15pm in the McKenna Gallery teaches about steel and stealing. Then, Part 3: Carnival Time! at 1:15pm in the Michael L. Nieland Gallery brings a mystery with colorful suspects. Finally, in the Cantilever at 2:15pm is Part 4: A Nautical Adventure where the whole story is brought together again. Come and check out all the new puppets, songs, adventures, and laughter!

Longrellers and Big DoubleSaturday, February 28, 2pm and 3:30pm :: Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear
A puppet interpretation of Ken Kesey's children's book
Free. Sewickley Public Library. 500 Thorn Street Sewickley, PA 15143. 412-741-0937

As part of Tom Sarver's exhibition of puppets, Tom and Mike Cuccaro of Puppet Happening will bring back their version of the Ozark folk-tale by Ken Kesey, as taught to him by his grandmother. This humorous adventure is full of colorful woodland characters: Tricker the squirrel, Charlie Charles the woodchuck, Longrellers the rabbit, Sally Snipsister the marten, and of course, Big Double the double big and double bad and double double hungry grizzly bear. Shows are free, but those planning to attend are asked to call the children's department for a reservation or register online. The show is recommended for ages 5 and older. Seating begins 15 minutes before show time and the performers will conduct question-and-answer sessions after the shows.

2014 Events

Sunday, September 7, 5-9pm :: The Lovelace Puppet Festival

Part of the Weather Permitting Series
$10 (includes beverages w/ ID) Free for kids. Weather Permitting. 510 Maryland Ave, Shadyside 15232.
Rain location: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. 6300 Fifth Ave. Shadyside, 15232

The Lovelace Puppet Festival will be held on September 7, at the Shadyside Nursery on Ellsworth Avenue as a part of the Weather Permitting Series. It celebrates the legacy of local puppetry pioneer Margo Lovelace. Her work once transformed Pittsburgh's East End, but today is largely forgotten. Some of Pittsburgh finest puppeteers will come together this Sunday to present new works in honor of a Pittsburgh icon. Within this whimsical plant nursery the event will incorporate local puppeteers, musicians, and food trucks to create an environment replicating and celebrating the atmosphere of the Lovelace Marionette Theater. Performers include: Creative Citizen Studios, Fuzzy Boundary, Joann Kielar, Miko Miko, The Schmutz Company, 4th Wall Puppets. This is a rescheduling from the show postponed July 27. Rain location is Pittsburgh Center for the Arts.

The Occasional MarketSaturday, June 7, 6pm-8pm :: Puppet Slam at The Occasional Market
BYOP! Bring your own puppet!
Free, donations accepted. Tom Sarver: The Occasional Market. 707 Penn Gallery, 707 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412.325.7017

Mike Cuccaro and Tom Sarver will reprise their Dada puppet show Flight Out of Time and also host a puppet slam. What is a puppet slam? A puppet slam is an informal cabaret of both planned and impromptu performances. You can go just to watch or you can bring a puppet to perform with. Puppet slams are a great opportunity to get your feet wet in front of a small and supportive audience and try out a new idea or just something new to us. You can plan and rehearse something out or wing it, solo or maybe with another puppeteer. Acts should be between three and ten minutes with set and strike times under five minutes. Acts should be self-contained as there will be minimal options for lighting, sound, etc. Donations with be split between performers. If possible, please send a brief description of your idea by June 1st so we know what to expect but that isn't strictly necessary.

Kids at Family Day at CMA by Josh FranzosMonday, January 20, 11am-2pm :: Puppets at Carnegie Museum of Art for Kids
ARTventures: 2013 Carnegie International Family Day
free with museum admission. Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 412.622.3131

Explore the playful side of the 2013 Carnegie International with engaging artmaking, a self-guided gallery search, and inspiring performances. At 11 a.m., noon, and 1 p.m., Storyteller Alison Babusci performs Peace Tales and other stories in the museum galleries. At 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m., Puppeteers Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro of Puppet Happening chat with puppets about works of art featured in the exhibition, performing stories from the Middle East, Africa, and the USA.

Heather Henson's FLIGHT: A Crane's Story, Photo by Richard TermineSaturday, January 18 at 8pm and Sunday, January 19 at 2pm :: Heather Henson's FLIGHT: A Crane's Story
A brand new environmental spectacle from IBEX Puppetry, the company of Jim Henson's youngest daughter
$8-$25. Charity Randall Theater, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 407.422.8911

Heather Henson's Flight: A Crane's Story explores nature's deepest mysteries and the spiritual essence in the cycle of life on Earth through the story of a crane named Awaken. Due to environmental changes brought about by human activity, Awaken's family left abruptly on their annual journey south. Now orphaned, the young crane must somehow learn to fly and navigate in order to do what her family does naturally: migrate! Awaken encounters windstorms, directional loss, and loneliness without her mother and father. Yet even with the help of Mother Earth and ancient Turtle Wisdom to guide her onto her path, it isn’t until Awaken listens to her own heart, consults her inner compass, and discovers her special gifts that she is able to rejoin her family.Together, the crane family is able to complete their annual journey again and again.

This interactive performance uses puppetry, kiting, and music from indigenous North America. As Awaken the crane crosses from adolescence to adulthood, let us be reminded to care for the Earth and for one another. We are all connected in this great circle of life.

Hugo BallThursday, January 16, 5:30pm-9pm :: Puppets at Carnegie Museum of Art for Grown-ups
Culture Club: These Aren't Your Kids' Puppets!
$10 (includes one drink ticket). Carnegie Museum of Art, 4400 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 412.622.3131

Pittsburgh-based puppeteer Tom Sarver, who participated in Polish artist Paulina Olowska's puppetry performance Museum Piece (For Margo Lovelace) for the opening of the 2013 Carnegie International, leads a fun-filled evening of puppetry for adults. Join Tom and original cast members Kristen Barca and Joann Kielar for a reprise of Museum Piece and go back to the birth of Dadaism with Tom's brand new show, Flight out of Time, with fellow puppeteer Mike Cuccaro. Chat with others about why puppets are so fascinating and create an original puppet of your own for the stage. Events are ongoing throughout the evening.

2013 Events

It Was the Coldest YearTuesday, December 31, 6:30pm-10:30pm :: Small and Tall Puppets at First Night 2014
Miniature Curiosa's It Was the Coldest Year and Fed Ex Ground Parade
free with First Night button. Catholic Charities, 212 9th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (It Was the Coldest Year)

Celebrate the turning of the year with Miniature Curiosa's new show It Was the Coldest Year in the Catholic Charities building. Explore a miniature city created from medicine cabinets, desk lamps, Victorian dollhouses, and repurposed junk. Inside, amongst the tiny copper-wire trees and within the cramped bedrooms of the pocket-sized residents, puppeteer Zach Dorn reveals the miniature city's hidden stories. Shows every half hour starting at 6:30pm and last show at 10:30pm.

At 8pm, be sure to be outside for the Fed Ex Ground Parade. "Special Delivery" is the theme for this year's First Night Parade, directed by Cheryl Capezzuti. The parade kicks off this year with special guest Mr. McFeely followed by a giant puppet dance drill team. Hundreds of additional puppets will be dancing in the street along side Art Cars, floats, and eight marching bands! Would you like to join the fun? Show up at 7:30 on 10th Street under the convention center to grab a puppet and join the parade.

Birds of AmericaSaturday, October 12, 8pm :: Birds of America
Miniature Curiosa, featuring Zach Dorn & Murphi Cook, presents their Largest, Strangest, and Most Horrifying Spectacle Yet!
$20. New Hazlett Theater, 6 Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. 412.320.4610

Birds of America is a multi-media exploration into scale and suspense. Cameras soar through miniature scenery, dollhouses, and frightful dreamscapes to create a Hitchcockian nightmare of Rosemary's Baby proportions.

When working together, Zach Dorn and Murphi Cook operate under the title Miniature Curiosa. Miniature Curiosa explores the underbelly of childhood nostalgia with the disappointed eyes of adulthood. Through low-fi technology, puppetry, and non-linear storytelling, Miniature Curiosa presents fast-moving, fast-talking (sometimes malfunctioning) live action comic books. Their most recent spectacle, Tonight A Clown Will Travel Time premiered at FE Gallery in Pittsburgh and toured across America this summer for five weeks.

The PigeoningWed, Thu, Sat, October 9, 10, 12, 7pm :: The Pigeoning
Robin Frohardt, as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts
$25 or see it with It's Dark Outside for only $30! 937 Liberty Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15222. 412.456.6666

The Pigeoning is a full length live performance that uses bunraku puppetry, video and original music to explore the ideas of obsessive compulsion, safety, and order in the context of the end of the world. The story is told through the main character "Frank" an bunraku style puppet working in an office in the early 1980's who is absorbed and ultimately transformed by his pigeon obsession. Pigeons are a part of Frank's daily life and serve as the embodiment of the chaos and filth of the natural world. As his story progresses, they seem to act against Frank, behaving as a continual source of aggravation for him, until he begins to believe that the birds are actually plotting against him. The Pigeoning invites the audience to laugh at our clinging to safety and order in the face of the end of the world that is always and never coming.

"I would be remiss if I did not single out the work of puppet designer Robin Frohardt... simply astounding." The Brooklyn Paper

It's Dark OutsideWed, Thu, Sat, October 9, 10, 12, 9pm :: It's Dark Outside
Perth Theatre Company (Australia), as part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts
$25 or see it with The Pigeoning for only $30! Pierce Studio, 805-807 Liberty Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15222. 412.456.6666

Inspired by experiences and research into Alzheimer's and Sundowner's Syndrome, Tim Watts', Arielle Gray's and Chris Isaac's newest play is a heartfelt, fearless, and inventive adventure about aging, getting lost and trying not to be found. Puppetry, mask, animation, and live performance are all expertly intertwined by the Perth-based, superbly talented cast to create a grand epic western about adventure, redemption, and dementia. Audiences will be drawn in by the perfect mix of enchanting, beautiful, and uplifting moments that are woven throughout this must-see theatre event.

"A rare triumph of theatrical ingenuity and human compassion" - The West Australian

CI13Saturday, October 5, ~3pm :: Puppet performance developed by Paulina Olowska
Part of the opening day events of the 2013 Carnegie International
Included with museum admission. Carnegie Museum of Art. 4400 Forbes Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15213. 412.622.3131

2013 Carnegie International artist Paulina Olowska has developed a new puppet performance with local puppeteers Kristen Barca, Joann Kielar, and Tom Sarver to be performed in the cafe area around 3pm, subject to change. Check out the rest of the 2013 Carnegie International opening weekend events.

Ishi's Brain: photo by Michel AndesonFriday, April 12, 8pm :: Ishi's Brain and excerpts from Aristophanes' Peace
New puppet shows from Lisa Krause (of Baltimore's Black Cherry Puppet Theater) and Eamon Espey, plus Pittsburgh artists Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro present excerpts from Aristophanes' Peace
$10. ModernFormations, 4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224. 412.362.0274

Ishi's Brain is a show by Baltimore MD artists Lisa Krause and Eamon Espey that incorporates shadow puppets, a marionette, masks and a liberal use of painted cardboard. It's based on a chapter in Eamon Espey's new graphic novel, Songs of the Abyss, published by Secret Acres. The inspiration comes from the true story of a man that has often been referred to as "the last wild Indian." Krause and Espey's version turns the story into a science fiction ritual where a lone spirit spends his final days and an alien shaman helps guide the dead into the next world. Original soundtrack by Stephen Santillian (of Baltimore bands Ghost Life and Thank You).

Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro will open the show with some excerpts from their interpretation of Aristophanes' comedic play Peace. Their new adaptation of the rarely performed, 2400-year old play is a work-in-progress.

Tonight A Clown Will Travel TimeThursday, February 28-Saturday, March 2, times var. :: Tonight A Clown Will Travel Time
Miniature Curiosa, featuring Zach Dorn & Murphi Cook, presents their newest show
$8 online and $10 at the door. Fe Gallery, 4102 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15201

Clown, archivist, and amateur scientist Albert Billows has built a time machine. Disguising his garage as an exclusive memorial for the popcorn luminary, Orville Redenbacher, Mr. Billows invites an unsuspecting audience to participate in its initial voyage. Followed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, haunted by a bloodthirsty execution of a lawbreaking pachyderm, and inspired by a mysterious woman from a century earlier, Albert Billows escapes to the past in order to change the course of human history and finally do something useful with his life.

Showtimes are February 28th at 8pm, March 1st at 8pm, and March 2nd at 7pm & 9pm. There is limited seating, so pre-ordering tickets is strongly suggested.

Art Olympic TheatreSaturday, February 23, 5pm :: Art Olympic Theatre
As part of the Mattress Factory's 35th Anniversary, join Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro as three teams of artists go for the gold!
$20 admission ($10 members). Mattress Factory, 505 Jacksonia St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. (412) 231-3169

A revival of one of our most popular events returns to the place it first started! Watch three teams of artists led by Julia Cahill, Nina Marie Barbuto and Christiane Leach compete to build sculptural installations out of the provided materials while you enjoy food and beverages, audience participation, games, and music. At 7pm our special guest judges announce the winning installation.

Come early! From 1-4pm, the museum is open to pay-what-you-can with a special community party. Bring the family, design your own party crowns, make scribble machines, go on a gallery scavenger hunt, share your favorite Mattress Factory memories and eat some anniversary cake! Admission to museum and community party are pay what you wish February 23.

2012 Events

Tom SarverSaturday, December 1, 1pm - 4pm :: Holiday Puppet-Making Workshop with Tom Sarver
$45. Click here to register.
Society for Contemporary Craft, 2100 Smallman St # 1B, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412) 261-7003

Tom Sarver of Puppet Happening returns for an afternoon of puppet making. Students will create a painted wood rod puppet for performance or decoration. Basic wood skills will be covered, along with articulation methods, embellishment techniques and display options. Participants are encouraged to bring wood scraps or repurposed materials to use themselves or share with others.

Zach Dorn StudioFirst and Third Wednesdays, November through ?, times TBA :: Live Streaming Puppet Shows
Free. Click here to watch online from Zach Dorn's home studio.

Every first and third Wednesday, beginning November 7, 2012, puppeteer Zach Dorn will live stream a *new* short puppet show from his home studio. He will perform it in rotation over an hour. Previous episodes are available here.

Zach Dorn has been very active in the Pittsburgh puppet community with recent projects including Puppet Photo Booth, Tonight a Clown will Travel Time, and The Luna Park Project.

Little FinnWednesday-Sunday, September 12-16 :: The Life & Death Of Little Finn
$30 general admission, $25 senior/student. Click here to purchase.
Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. 10 Children's Way, Allegheny Center on the Northside, (412) 322-5058

CORNINGWORKS' presentation of the world premiere of THE LIFE & DEATH OF LITTLE FINN - a dancetheater/puppet show, for adults 18 years of age and older - is a collaboration with the multi-disciplinary Canadian COMPANY X from Nova Scotia, led by Marina Harris. This touching account of the life and death of Finn, one ordinary, mistreated little man, is told through original puppetry, animation, dance, and voice over.

THE LIFE & DEATH OF LITTLE FINN inhabits an intimately scaled multi-dimensional landscape, performed by three live professional dancers - Beth Corning, artistic director of CORNINGWORKS, Melinda Evans, former principal dancer with Utah Repertory Dance Theater, Marina Harris, classically trained dancer, award-winning choreographer, costume designer and writer - who partner two traditional 20-inch marionettes, three 15-inch rod puppets, one 11- inch hand manipulated doll, and other various moving objects, all hand made by Marina Harris.

Supporting the "live" action is an innovative use of original animation, also created by Ms. Harris, that runs throughout the hour-long production providing the moving scenery, commentary, and internal monologue for all the "performers".

The irony of an adult dancetheater/ puppet production, performed after hours in the Children's Museum, for an intimate audience of 30, promises a provocative, moving, and highly personal theater-going experience. A unique snapshot of memories and emotional ruminations that run the gamut from poignant to sad, funny to cruel — a bouquet of love's fickle serenade.

Luna ParkFridays and Saturdays, July 27-August 11, 8pm :: The Luna Park Project
$12 advance/$15 door. Click here to purchase.
The Brew House, 2100 Mary St., Pgh PA 15203, (412) 381-7767

Presented by The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa
(The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa was founded by Murphi Cook and Zach Dorn.)

"Come see Frederick Ingersoll's lost spectacle, The Mystic River! Eat the very same hot dogs first premiered at the 1904 World's fair! Examine Luna Park in magnificent miniature! Luna Park's electric dreams came to a smoldering close in 1909. Over one hundred years later, two explorers came across the cinders of Frederick Ingersoll's fantastic Mystic River ride. This ride was Ingersoll's greatest work, and traverses his wildest dreams and most reviled nightmares providing a real live look inside of the brain of a genius of amusement. The Luna Park project is an excavation into Pittsburgh's past, present, and future. Take a ride on the hour long Mystic River spectacle for the fantastic Luna wonderland experience, then visit the gallery and examine the trolley park's artifacts. Bathe in nostalgia! Revel in excitement! Let the amusement seeker inside out to play!"

Funding for The Luna Park Project project was provided by the Robert C. Smith Fund and the Betsy R. Clark Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation. The Luna Park Project is also supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.

MF Community Garden PartySunday, June 24, 1pm - 4pm :: Puppet-Making Workshop with Tom Sarver
$45. Click here to register.
Society for Contemporary Crafts, 2100 Smallman St # 1B, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412) 261-7003

Tom Sarver of Puppet Happening returns for an afternoon of puppet making. Students will create a painted wood rod puppet for performance or decoration. Basic wood skills will be covered, along with articulation methods, embellishment techniques and display options. Participants are encouraged to bring wood scraps or repurposed materials to use or share.

Sunday, June 17, noon - 5pm :: Mattress Factory Community Garden Party
Free. Activities for the entire family!
Mattress Factory, 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. (412) 231-3169

Let your imagination run wild as you frolic in the magical garden with Alice and her pals at this year's Community Garden Party. Enjoy the musical stylings of the North Side Urban Pathways Sounds of Steel and the edgy sound of The Options. Emcees Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro of the Puppet Happening lead you through all of the arts, games, activities, and events during your visit to Wonderland.

Beans! Beans! Beans!Sunday, May 27, 8pm :: Beans! Beans! Beans!
Philadelphia's PuppeTyranny presents an original and exciting melodrama, a comedy of manners for a modern era long forgotten. Plus accompanying cabaret of salacious lounge singers and cross dressing troubadours.
ModernFormations, 4919 Penn Avenue. Pittsburgh PA 15224. 412.362.0274
Suggested $5-$10 donation. No one turned away for lack of funds.

A Macabre tale, full of tom-foolery and folly. Two dueling dandies vie for social status as they throw an unexpectedly explosive party. Attended by a rag tag ensemble of guests that include unemployed falconers, aeronauts, avant-garde sand painters, a world famous chanteuse, and more. Three performers and two musicians blend animation, puppetry, music, irreverent cardboard abuse, dance and Lo-Fi shenanigans. Somewhere between Agatha Christie and Federico Fellini lies this satire of steam-punk, high society, and war. Some adult content and language.

Joining us, as opening act and musical accompaniment, will be the insatiable and experimental lounge styling of Charmaine's Names. Original Songs developed in collaboration between PuppeTyranny and Rosie Langabeer (Composer for Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theater Company)

PuppeTyranny is Philadelphia's premier purveyors of multimedia and object theater. A cross discipline collaboration of artists combine to create original and experimental works of theater and performance. PuppeTyranny seek to misguide and aggravate, as well as induce the shaking of the hips and the fists. Whimsy and Melancholy, marinated in craftiness and multimedia-ness, all in a soft shell taco. Beans! Beans! Beans! concludes a run of three new plays developed in 2011. The first, a farce exploring explorers, animals, and sandwiches, entitled BrotherSister + SisterBrother was performed as part of 70 Rupees to Paradise Road, a festival aboard the Tall ship Gazela. Then, as part of the 2011 Philly Fringe Festival, the sold out run of the microscopic adventure saga, Water Bears in Space, which, "may not be the strangest Fringe show I've ever seen, but it at least makes the top three." (Wendy Rosenfield, Philadelphia inquirer). PuppeTyranny can often be seen up and down the eastern seaboard, traveling with their World Famous Mouth Show, where they "stage a number of hilarious scenarios in a mouth". (Village Voice)

Below and BeyondThursday, May 3, 8pm :: Below and Beyond
Presented by Ramshackle Enterprises, The Missoula Oblongata, and Kelly Strayhorn Theater
Alloy Studios, 5530 Penn Ave. at Stratford
Pay-What-You-Can, $5-20 in advance or at the door

Inspired by the long-submerged Mill Creek of West Philadelphia and current debate about fracking in Pennsylvania, BELOW and BEYOND explores the complications of what lies beneath our feet. Using puppets, pulleys, movement, and maps, the performance unearths the intricacies of extraction and recognizes a waterway that continues to resurface. Tree house, houseboat and bunker dwellers unite amidst an invasion of urban water buffalo. All this plus a one man band!

"...ingenious, poignant, crucial visionary work about complex topics, all the while never taking themselves too seriously. [They] are doing the people's work, bringing to light the issues that we need to understand, and presenting them with absurdity, laughter, and vulnerability." -Gina Renzi, Director of The Rotunda

The performance is geared toward adult audiences but is enjoyable for ages 10 and up. BELOW and BEYOND is a performance directed by Donna Sellinger (of The Missoula Oblongata), and created by Beth Nixon (of Ramshackle Enterprises) and Sarah Lowry (also of The Missoula Oblongata). Original musical score by accordionist Matthew Schreiber. Opening act: Layne James and The Bang Gang!

Lucky PuppetsSaturday, March 3, 5pm - 11pm :: Luck of the Puppet
Puppet Happening takes on Vegas in a night of performance & spectacle!
Future Tenant Art Space. 819 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. (412) 325-7037

See puppets in action! Make a puppet! Get married!

Puppet Happening enters its second year with a festival night of performance and spectacle presented as part of the Future Tenant Trespass Series. This event features a dynamic new format, a carnival atmosphere where puppet shows happen spontaneously in a mix of pageantry, live music and hands-on activities.

Shows and spectacle will range from the wild and racy, to the edgy and critical. Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro are the hosts. The Society for the Advancement of Miniature Curiosa (Zach Dorn & Murphi Cook) unveils Puppet Photo Booth. Book some time at Mime Share (Kristen Barca). Mr. & Mr$. Funky Vegas incorporate puppets into their rock show. Check out a Puppet Peep Show (Kate Mickere, Megan Morrison & Murphi Cook) or Liquid Escort 5000 by Scott Andrew and Erin Womack. Make Your Puppet Mate (with Rose Clancy, Brandi Welle and Kara Skylling) or get married by a puppet! Check out Dave English and Paul O'Brien's Big N' Scratchy, a critical look at scratch-off lottery tickets. Gabe Felice will be conducting Psychic Puppet Readings. Megan Morrison, Jeremy Frazier, Brittany Thurman and Sophie Hood collaborate on a performance, Body Language: A Puppet Seduction. Spontaneous art and puppetry will emerge throughout the evening. This is an 18 and over event.

Puppet WorkshopSunday, February 12, 1pm - 4:30pm :: Puppet Festival! A free one-day puppetry workshop
Course #[MM021212] Registration deadline: February 3

Society for Contemporary Craft. 2100 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. 412.261.7003, x25

Puppetry is an art form accessible to artists of all skill levels. Instructor Tom Sarver will cover techniques for planning, constructing and performing a portable puppet theater show. Visual and performing artists of all disciplines and curious others are invited to explore a dynamic scope of topics through puppet collaborations in this fun and free workshop. Tuition: Free, registration required. Materials Fee: $20. Call the number above, visit in person, or email the Society for Contemporary Craft to register.

2011 Events

Lascaux to Garfield Friday, December 2nd - Saturday, December 3rd :: Lascaux to Garfield
Gallery Reception: Friday, December 2nd, 6 PM – 10 PM
Puppet Happening Cabaret: Friday, December 2nd, 11 PM – Midnight
Daytime Reception: Saturday, December 3rd, Noon – 5 PM
Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. 5006 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224. 412-924-0634

Lascaux to Garfield features a small works art salon including the works of fifty local artists exploring a broad range of mediums and techniques. Works will be available for sale "off the wall" at the Gallery Reception and at the Saturday, December 3rd Daytime Reception. A portion of proceeds of art sales will benefit a Puppet Happening festival in 2012.

Exhibiting artists include: Sheila Ali, Alberto Almarza, Ashley Pixelle Andrews, Tommy Bones, Dean Cercone, Victoria Cessna, Matthew Conboy, Thommy Conroy, Murphi Cook, LEX Covato, Mike Cuccaro, George Davis, Tirzah DeCaria, The Dirty Poet, Sam Ditch, Zach Dorn, Kirsten Ervin, Gabe Felice, Irma Freeman, Claudia Giannini, Karen Hartman, Doug Hill, Jennifer Howison, Renee Ickes, Carolyn Kelly, Jessica Langley, Chris Lisowski, Maria Mangano, Jean McClung, Anna Mikolay, David Luis Montano, John Morris, Lindsay O'Leary, Organza Orgazmica (Scott Andrew, Elin Lennox and Michael McParlane collaboration), Larry Rippel, MJ Sadeghi, Nicole Sarver, Tom Sarver, Jessica Scott, Kate Sherman, Moshe Sherman, Kara Skylling, Steve Smith, Oliver Southgate, Jim Storch, Laurie Trok, Robert Zehmisch & Bob Ziller.

Friday Night Puppet Happening Cabaret Performers:

A Clown Will Travel Time!Friday, November 18 :: Tonight, A Clown Will Travel Time!
Part of Light Up Night.
929 Liberty Avenue, Pittsbugh, PA 15222

Zach Dorn and Murphi Cook will perform a ten minute puppet spectacular on rotation starting at 7pm. Come see a time travelling clown! There will be tea and cookies and a clown. Photo from Lascaux to Garfield peformance, courtesy of Larry Rippel.

Market Square Saturday, September 24, 1pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of Your Place at the Banquet. Free!
Market Square: Downtown, Pittsburgh, PA

What happens when the children of the world send away their healthy food? The bad snacks take over! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save the children from the clutches of evil? Find out as Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro, along with Unfinished Symphonies, present this puppet show as part of Your Place at the Banquet, a group exhibition at Future Tenant Gallery focusing on issues of food safety and sustainability. Free and open to the public, kid-friendly. There will be two performances, one at 1pm and another at 2pm, total run time 20 minutes.

Captain CarrotSaturday, August 13, 1pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of the New Hazlett Theater Community Celebration. Free!
New Hazlett Theater: 6 Allegheny Square East, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, 412-320-4610

What happens to good children Fit Felix, Kind Kinesha, and Laser Lonnie when they send their healthy food away? They fall under the power of Pop Dragon, Monsterburger, and the evil Dr. Donut and get out of shape, hyperactive, and lazy! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save them from the evil snacks? Probably not, but you'll have to watch to find out! Kyle Costello and Mike Cuccaro perform with the puppet creations of Tom Sarver as part of a free community day celebration at the New Hazlett Theater with fun, food and activities both inside and outside from 10 am to 8 pm. Puppet show at 1pm! Click here for more event info!

Mysterious Rabbit Puppet ArmyThursday, July 21, 7pm :: The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army presents: What are prisons for?
Artists Image Resource: 518 Foreland St., Pittsburgh PA 15212, (412) 321-8664

The Mysterious Rabbit Puppet Army rolls into town as part of its whirlwind, month-long excursion across the continental United States to raise awareness about the prison system. The tour stop will include a few different shows. What are prisons for?, the feature show uses shadow puppets to outline the history of the Prison Industrial Complex, from chattel slavery in the south to where it is today. The other show is a modernized Hansel and Gretel. All of the shows are child friendly. The tour is being co-sponsored by the Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective, a part of the books to prisoners network. Donations will be accepted at the show.

Burgermonster Monster BurgerSunday, June 19, 1:15pm and 4pm :: Vegetable Island Rescue
Part of the Mattress Factory Community Garden Party. Free!
Mattress Factory: 500 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212, (412) 231-3169

What happens when the children of the world send away their healthy food? The bad snacks take over! Can Captain Carrot, Black-Eyed Pete, and Anna Banana return in time to save the children from the clutches of evil? Find out as Tom Sarver and Mike Cuccaro present this new puppet show as part of hosting a full afternoon of free entertainment, activities, and fun for the whole family at the Mattress Factory. The Community Garden Party is open from noon to 5pm. Come on down!

Bread & Puppet TheaterSaturday, April 23, 7pm :: Bread & Puppet Theater
Internationally-recognized puppetry activists present The Decapitalization Cabaret
The Brew House Space 101 Gallery, 2100 Mary St., Pgh PA 15203, (412) 381-7767

This latest edition of Bread & Puppet Theater's cabaret series features the Kaspars' interpretation of justice, an operatic argument about farms vs. jails, instructions on how to nab that alien, the can cans (and can't can'ts) of universal health care, and much more. The Decapitalization Orchestra will provide soothing sounds for winter weary nerves.

Several organizations including the Brew House, ArtUp, Puppet Happening, Schmutz Co. and "Joy Toujours & The Toys Du Jours" partnered to make this show possible. The event will be open seating and "pay what you wish." The troupe will pass a hat at the end of the cabaret.

As with all Bread & Puppet shows, a "Cheap Art" sale will follow the performance. This is a rare chance to pick up memorabilia, puppet how-to booklets and hand-pulled prints.

Founded in 1963 by Peter Schumann, Bread & Puppet Theater is an internationally renowned company that champions a visually rich, street-theater brand of performance art filled with music, dance and slapstick. Its shows are political and spectacular, with huge puppets made of paper maché and cardboard.

Winter CabaretThursday, March 17 and Saturday, March 19, 8pm-10pm :: Puppet Happening Open House Cabaret
Two nights of local puppetry for adult audiences. $10 suggested donation.
Glass Lofts: 3rd Floor Residential Space (A301), 5485 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Long-time puppetry performer and organizer Tom Sarver will perform Punchinello vs. the Schmoovaggios, a semi-traditional "Punch" hand-puppet show where the rascally and violence-prone Punchinello takes on his high-class neighbors in a fight to the death. Lewd and rude, Punchinello gains and loses body parts as he tangles with angry shih tzus, combative conductors, amorous ladies, and… unicorns?

New Orleans-native and lifelong puppeteer Flora Shepherd brings us In the Night, a one-woman puppet show. This dark, adult fairy tale features magic, hidden secrets, and a red accordion. A young girl is called forth to save one she loves from deep inside the forest. But first she must navigate menacing abstract shapes, unfamiliar sounds, and her own fears. Her journey is brought to life through a combination of string, table-top, hand, and rod puppetry techniques. Will she escape from the forest? or will its shadowy figures absorb her into their dark unknown?

Puppeteer Zach Dorn makes his Pittsburgh debut with Real Live Puppets! A collection of short puppet performances that employ the fashionable Victorian tradition of Toy Theater. Armed with paper dolls, a VCR, and a miniature stage, Dorn plans to entertain guests in attendance. Following the toy theater performance, Dorn will project moving, intricate paper cut-outs onto the wall of the loft space with overhead projectors from local Pittsburgh Elementary schools. Guests are encouraged to bring a pair of their finest field glasses in order to inspect the hand crafted quality of the moving objects in this theater of miniature.

Friday, March 4, 2011 6pm-9pm :: Puppet Happening Open Studio at the Unblurred Penn Ave Gallery Crawl
Glass Lofts: 2nd Floor Retail Space, 5485 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
As we prepare for our introductory Open House Cabaret, stop in to visit the space, see puppets being built, check out our art, and talk shop with local puppeteers Tom Sarver, Mike Cuccaro, Zach Dorn and friends. Find out what's going on with The Puppet Happening!