About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Is it STILL raining?

Now that the frame of the puppet stage has dried I thought I’d give our fans a heads up that there are several public performances in the pipeline for the Wump Mucket Puppets!

I promise that the dates (yes DATES!) will be posted very soon.  I want to iron out the small wrinkles in Cyril’s tail before I make an official announcement.  I hope you are as excited as I am!  I bet Coleman would rather stay in his box.

So try to stay dry (hey, that should be a song) and drop by this little bit of a blog real soon.  As always, thank YOU for your kind interest in the silly adventures of the Wump Mucket Puppets troupe.

Thank you for being a wonderful audience!

If you look at the smiling faces of the children that I performed for this morning you will see the reason why I am a puppeteer.  As I continue to develop my puppetry skills (and spills) I crave moments such as this when I can bring laughter and smiles to the people who are so kind to be my audience for half an hour.

Sure, the sky opened up and dropped a gazillion gallons of water on me while I was unloading to set up for the shows today, yet the show must go on!  A little rain never stopped the Wump Mucket Puppets!

Thanks to all the students and teachers in Room A3 at Winton Montessori School this morning, and the families who stopped by the Northside Farmers Market this evening to see the show. I hope to see you at our shows in the future.

Come out and see our first show of 2011!

A singing Sea Serpent, a picnic basket loving Sasquatch, and a large orange alien have been spotted in Northside!
The Wump Mucket Puppets return to the Northside Farmers Market for a free puppet show on Wednesday, April 27th at 5:30 PM.  The market is located at the North Presbyterian Church, 4222 Hamilton Avenue in Northside, of course.
The twenty-five minute live performance is family friendly and includes original songs, skits, and silliness written and performed by Northside puppeteer Terrence Burke.
Be sure not to miss this!
Here’s the snazzy poster 

Puppetry for my neighborhood’s silent auction

I am donating a child’s birthday party puppet show to the silent auction at the Northside Generations concert.  This fundraiser is to help replace the banners that hang over the Ludlow viaduct to welcome visitors to our funky neighborhhood.  In addition to the musical performances, that feature different generations of Northsiders, there will be a silent auction of goods and services donated by people in the neighborhood.

Here’s a photo of the “gift card” that I made:
Generations Silent Auction card

I hope that the auction goes well, and look forward to perform my one of a kind puppet shows at a lucky neighbor’s birthday party.

Here’s the info about the event:

7:00 – 11:00 PM
The Deaf Club
3938 Spring Grove Avenue
For information 513-542-2500
or timjeckering@fuse.net

One of my favorite Sesame Street songs has always been “Who Are The People in Your Neighborhood”.  I often sing it to my children, and still feel that children should know the various names and faces in their little world.  I love the feeling of a community.  I guess this started about the same time I started watching Sesame Street in 1969 on my family’s tiny black & white tee-vee set in Ballardvale, Massachusetts.  It was in that village, that is located in the town of Andover, that I learned about the people in my neighborhood.  Mr. Beacott ran the Corner Cupboard (a small variety store & lunch counter), Bill Miller fixed cars next to our house at Shawsheen Service gas station, Mr. Cronin owned the ice cream distribution business down the street (where I would later work for a Summer in high school),  Mrs. Sharpe was the village branch librarian, Mr. Trombly was the barber who gave me my first professional hair cut, and Henry the mailman delivered our family’s mail with a smile everyday.  These golden memories have stayed with me all my life, and I feel that my children may be missing some of that simple magic of what it was like to live in a neighborhood.  I guess we have some of it still.  Maybe it’s that the Sesame Street song brings back those memories?  In any case I’ll be happy to be known as the Northside puppeteer and I am proud to help my neighborhood.

In memory of my father Denis Burke

I was recently in a conversation with a neighbor and was asked who my influence was as a puppeteer.  My reply was quick, “Burr Tillstrom, Caroll Spinney, and Jim Henson“.  Those men created or performed puppets that I really enjoyed as a child.  I admire their work and have viewed hours of their performances on DVD, read many books written by them or about them, even had the pleasure to meet Caroll Spinney several times in my life.  Yet, as I thought about my answer more while driving in the car with my children, there is a man who was far more influential on my work than any of those brilliant puppeteers.  That man is my father, Denis Burke.

My dad would be celebrating his 74th birthday later this week, if he had not suddenly died 10 years ago in late January 2001.  I took his death quite hard.  It really did a number on my daily life.  I began a spiral down into a state of mind that I never wish to see again and eventually agreed to see a counselor.  It was in those sessions that I realized that I needed to find an activity that brought joy back into my life.  I can’t recall exactly how it happened, yet the idea of working with puppets kept popping into my head in the Spring of 2001.

Puppets have always interested me.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of watching puppets on television.  One of my most cherished memories from my boyhood, is when my dad drove me to Boston to attend a puppet convention (it was here that I first met Caroll Spinney).  My father was very supportive of my interest in puppets, and bought me a Musicians of Bremen finger puppet set to encourage my puppetry hobby.  Gosh, I wish I still had those little felt puppets today. 

As I remember back to those darker days in early 2001, I recall feeling so empty.  I was in my mid-30’s and was not prepared to lose my father so suddenly.  Is anyone?  Perhaps my brain kicked into a survival mode to help the rest of me survive the loss of my father.  Maybe the childhood memories of attending that puppet convention with my dad were waiting to be remembered fondly to release a feeling of happiness during that hard time in my life.  I may never know. 

The fact is that my father’s death brought on my adult interest of puppetry, which has brought me to the creation of the Wump Mucket Puppets.  That Spring I joined Puppeteers of America and the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild.  I began drawing ideas for puppet characters, writing down bits for scripts, all of that creative activity helped me to keep my mind off the aftermath of a parent’s death.
Sure, it took me a while to get those sketches and scribbles into the form of a live puppet show, yet I did it.

Back to the influence topic.    I guess I get the performer gene from my father.  He was a radio broadcaster for many years, and could cook up some very silly schtick for his radio shows in the early 70’s and into the 1980’s when schtick could still be found on the radio.  For those of you who have heard my Cyril the Sea Serpent character shout “SCHPAK! SCHPAK!”  during the show, I am borrowing it from my father as a bit of a tribute to him.  My Dad introduced me to Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Ealing Studio comedy films, and the work of Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.  The man KNEW what was GOOD comedy.  I really hope that some of his comic awareness has rubbed of on my puppet show scripts.  I think that some of it has since I do hear people laughing at my puppets during the show. 

And that’s what got me started in puppetry in the first place, finding joy where there was sorrow.  Turning a frown into a smile.  Making people laugh is possibly the greatest thing that I can hope to accomplish as I try to do my very best as a puppeteer.  I know that my father would like that.

Dad & Terry December 1991
Denis and Terrence Burke, December 1991

Puppets & Projects for 2011

We are almost half way into January 2011 and I am happy to report that the Wump Mucket Puppets are entering the new year with several exciting projects and upcoming performances.

The projects:

“The Legend of the Last Kelpie” puppet play is “stewing” in my brain a little longer. At first I envisioned this as one of my quick little shows for children, yet as I scrawled down ideas it is beginning to look like a much more involved production, and will take more time to write, build, and perform. To tease you a little, it’s the story of a young girl growing up near the Atlantic Ocean at the beginning of the 20th century. The play will appeal to families, not just the tots.

“G’Wpunzel” will be the Wump Mucket spin on the Brothers Grimm tale “Rapunzel” featuring our resident orange alien puppet G’Wazzl G’Wook in the starring roll…wearing a purple wig.

WUMP MUCKET PUPPETS – The Comic Book! You read that correctly. I have sketched and rough drafted a mini-comic to sell at our shows in glorious black & white! Issue #1 tells the tale of how Cyril and Coleman first met.

Speaking of Coleman, his new fur arrived last week from California ,which makes sense since he’s a Sasquatch. His rebuild should be ready for the Spring shows.

Spring shows? Yes, dear reader, SHOWS! I’ll post the exact dates and venues as we get closer to that lovely season.

And on a more boring note, but cool for me, I have ordered business cards to help promote this little puppet troupe.


2010 was the year the puppets got out!

I am very proud that this year was the year that I finally got my little puppet show out in front of an audience with a grand total of seven shows performed in 2010.

Thanks to everyone who came out and clapped and laughed at the puppet’s silliness. I really appreciate your interest in my puppet shows.

Here are a few photos from the “first annual” Wump Mucket Puppets Holiday Sing A Long Puppet Show:

Our puppet stage is ready for the show

Cyril & his tail.

Cyril & Coleman singing holiday tunes.

So what does 2011 hold in store for the Wump Mucket Puppets?


Excellent question. The idea gears are already turning for an Irish themed skit to perform around St. Patrick’s Day. The “Coleman” puppet will be rebuilt, and I have found a faux fur that looks GREAT! I have had a request from my daughter Eleanor to figure out a way to rig the puppet stage to drop ping-pong balls onto the puppets…so that will be a fun challenge.

So 2011 will be filled with exciting projects to keep this little puppet troupe rolling along into new and exciting adventures in live family friendly puppetry.

A big thank you to YOU, our audience. When I hear your laughter and applause I smile knowing that you know that the Wump Mucket Puppets ROCK!

Wump Mucket Puppets Holiday Sing-A-Long & puppet show

You read that right. We’re squeezing one more show into 2010!

What: Wump Mucket Puppets Holiday Sing-A-Long & puppet show. Join the puppets as they sing some of their favorite Christmas time tunes, and perform an encore presentation of the soon to be a classic “Lil’ Red Sasquatch Hood” skit.

When: Thursday, December 30th at 11 AM

Where: Sidewinder Coffee & Tea
4181 Hamilton Avenue in Northside -Cincinnati’s “hippest” neighborhood!

How much: FREE!

Arrive early so you can get a good seat and bring your Jingle Bells!