I had planned to create an entertaining end of year review of Wump Mucket Puppets adventures in puppetry over 2013, then I caught the flu. Ugh. I am happy to share that I am on the mend, and will do my best to keep you interested in a look back at what was a FANTASTIC year for me performing my puppets. Let’s get rolling…
Looking back at my goals for 2013 I see that some were met, some were lost, and a few popped up while the year was in full swing. Wump Mucket Puppets had the pleasure of performing all over Greater Cincinnati to thousands (yup –THOUSANDS!) of children and their families. Not too shabby for a little puppet troupe fueled by a dream.
January was cold in Cincinnati. It’s a very good time to stay inside and build a puppet. You should try it! The design team (Terrence, Lara, and Eleanor) put on their thinking caps to create a pet for our space traveling puppet pal G’Wazzl G’Wook. What did we come up with? Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua! Learn more about Kitty here.
February started with a meeting with the producers of the local variety/talk show Cincinnality for Wump Mucket Puppets to make a possible television appearance. A few good ideas were bounced around, yet sadly the program was canceled before anything was recorded. We didn’t make it onto television this year, which is something that Coleman plans to change in 2014.
With the hope of the television appearance on the back burner, the puppet troupe kicked into gear for the public debut of our new puppet character Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua at Happen in Northside on February 16th. What a night! What a crowd!
Here’s a video clip from the show:
Keeping things rocking and rolling, the puppets (and their puppeteer) where interviewed on the Ted Clark After Dark show at the rock club MOTR. The audience were a bit older than our usual crowd, and may have been drinking something other than chocolate milk. Perhaps that explains their choice of words? Still it was fun to bring our brand of silliness into a rock club, and Ted was a cool host. Big thanks to fellow puppeteer Ryan Moore that night.
Enjoy Cyril singing “A Song About Cryptozoology”:
Valentine’s Day was a little over a week late at Wump Mucket Puppets H.Q. It’s not that we forgot the date, it’s the news that was received on Tuesday February 26th…
Yes fans and friends, we had been awarded our first scholarship! We were really going to the 2013 Puppeteers of America National Puppetry Festival! Yipee!!!
Marching along into the end of Winter, the troupe performed at St. Boniface School in Northside. We were part of the school’s Right to Read Week, and from what we’ve been told were a big hit! Here’s part of the kind thank you note we received from the children’s teacher:
Dear Mr. Burke,
Thank you so much for bringing your Wump Mucket Puppets to St. Boniface. We loved them! We were even inspired by your program to make our own hand puppets.
It was around this time that I gave a bit of thought to my philosophy of puppetry, it’s very simple: “Share the knowledge. Spread the joy.”
We dodged a few rain showers in April to begin a very busy Spring. The puppets entertained guests at the Voice For the Innocent/Connections: A Safe Place event at Sharon Woods. And while the television cameras were looking elsewhere, the microphones at Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate, WVXU were on -inviting us into their studio three times over the year! Here’s our April interview with host Jim Stump, as we talk about Cincinnati’s National Day of Puppetry:
The members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild presented a fantastic National Day of Puppetry with help from our host Happen, Inc. It was marvelous to see so many happy people interested in puppetry! I was a very proud father that day. My daughter performed with me, and even up-staged me to get BIG laughs! Way to go Eleanor!
If you have never attended a National Day of Puppetry, here’s a short video made by puppeteer Bill Yost:
At the beginning of May, we pointed the Wump Mucket mobile towards Columbus Ohio. I was invited to speak about puppetry at Entertainer’s Camp, organized by our pal Bob Abdou. What is Entertainer’s Camp? It’s a day long, low-key, networking event for members of the variety arts (clowns, magicians, jugglers, balloon artists, and even puppeteers).
It was great to hang out with puppeteer pals and talk about…puppets!
Best of all, the end of day pie fight was a SMASHING success!
Then our Summer schedule blasted off like a rocket on it’s way to Mars! It seemed like we were everywhere, well we were! Libraries, schools, festivals, there was no stopping our mighty little puppet troupe. Somewhere we even found the time to give another chat, this time for the Cincinnati Women’s Connection. It was during this speaking engagement that a member of the audience told me that my puppetry and love of using one’s imagination reminded her of one of my heroes, Fred Rogers. I was flattered.
August popped up quicker than you can say Puppetry Festival five times fast! The car was loaded, the puppets safe in their cases, off to Swarthmore College we went. We did make a stop along the way, Coleman gets hungry when traveling:
Now I won’t review an entire week, that’s been covered HERE. However, I will repeat that attending the 2013 National Puppetry Festival was one of the happiest weeks in my life. I was free to be my five year old self (more or less) for an entire week of nothing but puppets and puppeteers! Will i be attending the 2015 festival? You bet your Bert bedsheets I will!
Of course Cyril got into the spirit of the festival to perform during Potpourri:
We were even “heckled” by several Sesame Street puppeteers!
As Autumn made it’s way to Cincinnati, the puppets and I kicked into festival season which brought us to the Edgewood Kentucky Fall Festival, CliftonFest, and a very special performance for our new pals at Saint Joseph Orphanage. The big news for us was our new stage!
The stage was a planned project over 2013, and started late 2012 with the guidance and knowledge of California puppeteer Charles Taylor. The construction of the stage was a team effort that included my neighbor, and fellow puppeteer, Jesse Mooney-Bullock.
Jesse opened his workshop to me and shared his woodcrafting skills as we constructed the stage together over a few Saturday mornings.
After I painted the frame, my wife Lara, and mother sewed the curtains for the new stage.
We had our share of troubles, yet in the end things were worked out and the new puppet stage made it’s debut performance at Smale Riverfront Park on Sunday September 15, 2013. This was a very special show for me. I was performing on the same stage as my friend Jesse, who had helped me so much with the stage over the summer. I was also performing my show for my mother, who lives in New England and has never seen my puppetry -as an adult that is.
As we rolled out the new puppet stage, we also stopped by WVXU again to chat about our trip to the Puppetry Festival and upcoming performances. Cyril considers this the best interview he has given, enjoy:
In puppetry you must be ready to improvise in a split second. Sometimes this means changing the show a little to engage the audience, sometimes it means packing all your staging and sound equipment away when the weather suddenly changes! Our second performance at CliftonFest 2013 was in danger of being canceled due to the rain. What could we do? There were children waiting for a silly puppet show, I had puppets… it’s showtime!
With our outdoor shows finished for the year, we began to wind down and prepare songs and skits for our silly holiday shows. I have always loved watching the television Christmas specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Year Without a Santa Claus, and love to perform my puppetry at Christmas time. This year I donated a performance to another of our non-profit friends, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati. The clients are a lovely audience, and always have kind words about my puppet show.
But wait, there is something very special that arrived in today’s mail -speedy delivery:
And there is is, more or less, Wump Mucket Puppets had their busiest year ever! We thank all our clients, audience members, fellow puppeteers, friends in the media, neighbors, friends, and family. YOU are the reason I do my very best to create a family friendly puppet show that I would want to see with my children. Thank you for your interest and allowing me to share my puppetry with you. Puppets ROCK!