About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Thanksgiving Special

I hope that all my puppetry fans and friends had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  My family and I watched the Macy’s parade on television (where was  the Underdog balloon?), shared a delicious meal together, took a walk around our neighborhood to the playground, and enjoyed each others company.

Cyril and his puppeteer, Terrence Burke

Cyril and his puppeteer, Terrence Burke

Later in the evening I performed my puppet show at the Ronald McDonald House near Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.  I have been donating shows for the guests for two years now.  Every show I perform there is special. Why?  Because for thirty minutes or so I let the children and families forget about the reason they are staying at the Ronald McDonald House and share my imagination with them.  Nothing more.  Sharing my love of puppetry, singing a silly song, telling a goofy joke, having a bit of fun.

As I prepared to pack up the puppets and the stage, a noticed a young boy who was about four years old standing in the theatre with his parents.  I offered him one of our coloring pages to color.  He seemed rather shy, so I was sure to give him space.  Suddenly he perked up and asked to see “the blue puppet” (which is our “Monster of Ceremonies” Cyril).  The boy began to open up to Cyril, ignoring that I was operating and voicing the puppet.  He asked Cyril many questions about his purple beard, where does his voice come from, and how does he pop up from the puppet stage.  All along his father was snapping photos of his son interacting with the puppet.  It was a wonderful moment for me.  This is why I am a puppeteer.  I brought magic to this young boy’s life for half an hour.

When the gear was all packed up and ready to be loaded, I passed the reception desk to have one of the volunteers tell me she overheard many of the children exit the theatre saying, “That was an awesome puppet show!”.  She thanked me for spending my Thanksgiving evening entertaining the children and guests and asked if I would come back again.  You bet I will!

This made my Thanksgiving special.

Rest in Peace Fred Cowan

Rest in Peace Fred Cowan

The puppetry world has lost a dear family member.  I have just learned Fred Cowan passed away yesterday.  He was known and loved by many and will be missed.  I first met Fred back in November of 2002, at the Great Lakes Regional puppetry gathering Potlatch.  It was my first time there, and I was a “newbie” in the puppetry family.

Cyril the Sea Serpent performing at Potlatch 2002, Angola Indiana

At Potlatch, puppeteers are welcome to participate during potpourri event, think of it as an open-mic for puppeteers.  I was a bit nervous, my hands were not steady, and Cyril had not quite developed into the character his is today.  Yet I did my five minutes, by retelling an embarrassing true story.  The puppeteers in the audience chuckled and applauded.  I guess I was doing something right.  As I left the stage and went to sit down to watch the other puppeteers, Fred came up to me to offer kind words of praise.  I remember he said, “I like what you’re doing.”  That simple sentence boosted my confidence and made me happy.  At the time I didn’t know that Fred had been a puppeteer for many years.  I also learned that designed the Chuck E. Cheese costume characters.  He even performed at The White House!  Wow!

Several years later I drove to his home in Indiana with members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild for a Great Lakes Puppetry Guilds gathering.  He was very kind and showed us around his workshop filled with his puppets.  I was able to shoot this video of Fred performing his Dolly Parton puppet:

Sadly this was to be the last time I would see Fred in person.  Fred had many friends in the puppetry world.  I am happy that I can be counted as one of them.

Rest in Peace Fred.

Listen up! We were on the radio!

Wump Mucket Puppets on WVXU radio

We are thrilled to share that the Wump Mucket Puppets returned to the airwaves of WVXU 91.7 FM, Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate, as guests on the Around Cincinnati program.

We’ve created a slide show of sorts to accompany the radio program that was orginally broadcast on Sunday, September 8, 2013:

Many thanks to Robyn Carey Allgeyer for interviewing “us”, and to producer Lee Hay for her continued interest in our silliness.  Please consider making a donation to WVXU, thanking them for their help in promoting the arts in Cincinnati:  wvxu.org/support

Wump Mucket Puppets with WVXU host Robyn Carey Allgeyer.

Living the puppet life – Part 2

There was so much magic packed into our week at Swarthmore College, I must continue to share it with you!

Tonight’s blog focuses on a few of the puppet films that we watched on the lawn.  I love to laugh, and these films made me howl!  Here are a few previews:

Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas

MORE INFO

 

Hey Geronimo – Dreamboat Jack (aka The Greatest Puppet Chase Ever Filmed)

Film by Pete Kilroy and a younger Joe Brumm
Info about Hey Geronimo

Milano (Music Video) by Lolly Lardpop

Info about Lolly Lardpop and her puppeteer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph

These films were presented in the Handmade Puppet Dreams film series produced by Heather Henson.  I am trying to bring this film series to a screen in Cincinnati in the not so distant future.

I hope you enjoy these funny films as much as I did, sharing a blanket with my puppeteer pals -and a few insects.

More rambling about my adventures in puppet festival land and thoughts on punk ukulele soon!

Living the puppet life!

This past week has both flown by, and moved so slow that it could have been a month.

It has brought me new friends, and reconnected me with old ones.

I have been introduced to new techniques, possibilities, and ideas.  Thus allowing me to review my own creativity with a fresh perspective.  Growth is good.

(r)evolution.  evolution.  Terrence Burke at 2013 National Puppetry Festival, Swarthmore Pennsylvania

Not the ending.  A new beginning.

Having been awarded a scholarship to attend this festival was certainly a honor, yet that was quickly passed by making connections with so many unique, beautiful, creative people.  I started the week knowing but a handful of those attending, and left knowing so many more people.  It was amazing.

Can I pick one event as a favorite, no.  I can share several though.

The human connection through puppetry would have to be what I consider the most important experience of the week.  We channel our souls and imaginations through objects, material, pictures, and words.  Some of us share more than others, and that is the choice of the artist.  To bare their souls, their hopes, their nightmares and dreams to an audience is something that I consider a very brave act.  Not all succeed, yet the attempt is something to be admired.  I applaud everyone who took to a stage, large or small and shared part of themselves with over 500 puppeteers.  You are all amazing human beings.

Meeting artists who’s work has inspired me as a puppeteer was all very thrilling.  To share a chuckle, a handshake or a hug, a chance to meet the person and learn more about them has already begun to change the way I look at my art. Terrence Burke with Wayne White

 

 

Wayne White  has left a mark on my way of creating puppets.  His rock n’ roll attitude, and language, may turn some people away.  NOT ME.  I love that he creates for himself, if others like it great.  If they don’t, BLEEP!

If you have not watched the film “Beauty is Embarrassing”, drop what ever you are doing right now.  Sit down.  Watch it. Now!  WARNING:  Wayne uses quite a few expletives.

Beauty is Embarrassing

 

Another of the magical moments was being invited to the studio of Chinese artist/rod puppeteer Hua Hua Zhang.  I truly believe that things happen for reasons.   Terrence Burke with Hua Hua ZhangFilmmaker/puppeteer/blogger Andrew Young, of PuppetVision blog, asked if I could drive him and his film gear to Hua Hua’s studio after some complications restricted his previous ride to take him there.  I quickly said yes.  The word is one that opens many doors.  For if I had said no, I probably would have never encountered her artwork, or spend part of my Saturday afternoon in her studio.  Thank you Hua Hua, you are a very kind and sharing person.  I look forward to meeting again.

Such a week may be a once in a lifetime adventure.  I have so many happy memories that this edition of my blog will have to be continued.  Here are a couple of photos of my dear friends, old and new, who make living the puppet life the best!  Thank you all, I cherish our friendships and time spent together.

Old friends from the Cincinnati puppetry community:

My new Puppet Pals from the East Coast:

 

Now it’s time to go to bed before 2 AM!  Keep rocking puppeteers!

 

 

 

 

Puppet week is almost here!

A major event in my life as a puppeteer is less than 24 hours away!  Tomorrow I will be at the 2013 Puppet Festival (r)Evolution in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.  I am so excited that I may not sleep tonight.

Terrence Burke with G'Wazzl G'Wook of Wump Mucket Puppets

My journey to the puppetry festival has been a long one.  It can be traced back to my childhood in Massachusetts, where I was first entranced by puppets on television.  It’s about time that my inner five year old enjoy a week of puppetry workshops, performances, lectures, and meeting other puppeteers!  I am happy that I still have quite a bit of “kid” in me, although my almost 50 year old body needs a kick in the pants now and then.

There are so many people that I must thank for their love and support over the last ten years, as I have slowly made my passion in life something to share with others.  My family (Lara, Eleanor, and Tiernan), my parents and siblings, my extended family, friends, fellow puppeteers & the global puppetry community (including the selection committee that awarded me a scholarship to the festival), and all the great people who come to see my little puppet troupe perform their silliness and songs.  You have all proven to me that I have something worth sharing with the world.  Thank you everyone!

Enough of me babbling.  Here’s a fun little video I made with my daughter at a rest stop along our long drive, enjoy:

As I say at the end of every show, “Puppets ROCK!”

Ramble On!

Ramble On, And now’s the time, the time is now, to sing my song.
-Led Zeppelin

Lots of different things happening in the world of Wump Mucket Puppets, and I would love to share a few with you.

FREE Coloring Pages!
Those of you who have attended our puppet show may have received a complimentary coloring page at the end of the show, well maybe not the folks reading this blog, but their children. I still can remember being a child, and the thrill of being given a small priWump Mucket Puppets coloring page by Eleanor Burkeze at a grocery store, the dentist’s office, or even a gas station. That’s why I always have a supply of hand drawn coloring pages for our young fans to take home with them to color. Understanding that some friends of our little puppet troupe live far away, or may live close by and feel the need to color Cyril, Coloeman, and G’Wazzl on a rainy Summer afternoon we are thrilled to have several of our coloring pages available for you to download and print out!

Go HERE to find our coloring pages

 

 

Jim Henson – The BiographyTop of page 192 Jim Henson biography
I am enjoying reading this new bio written by Brian Jay Jones. I was not very familiar with Jim Henson’s early life, and the relationships that he had with his parents, grandmother, and brother.  As I write this blog, I am at page 206 in the book. Jim is trying to get a television network to produce a variety show featuring puppets! I wonder how that will turn out?  The author has been given access to Henson’s diaries, interviewed his family, fellow puppeteers and associates to allow the reader into Henson’s world as he created it. Without giving a spoiler, I must say that at times I feel a bit uncomfortable reading some of the details of Henson’s life. Overall, I enjoy it very much.  Now who’s going to write a biography of Burr Tillstrom?    This book is on  available 9/24/13  Pre-order from Amazon

The Puppet Revolution is almost here! 
In nearly three weeks I’ll be pointing the mighty Wump Mucket mobile towards the East, on my way to my first Puppet Festival! I am arriving a bit early to help out with the registration, and anything else that the staff can throw at me. It will be great to meet so many puppeteers, and shake the hands of people that I have only met “electronically”. You can bet your boots that I’ll find my way onto the stage during the week. Be sure to check back here for all the exciting details, I plan to document as much of the festival, and my experiences, as possible. As my puppet pal Micha has said so eloquently, “Viva la Sock!”


Thanks for reading my blog.  I really appreciate all of the kind folks that I encounter through my journey in the world of puppetry, you ROCK!    Now I plan to read a few more pages of the Jim Henson biography before bed.

 

 

Talking about puppets

What is it about puppetry that I love so much?  Terrence Burke talking with students at Compass School Mason, Ohio

Is it seeing my doodles and sketches climb out of my sketchbook and onto the puppet stage?  Maybe it’s hearing the audience laugh and applaud at the silly songs that I write and sing?  I do look forward to meeting folks after the show and have them chat a little with the puppets.  Honestly I love to do all of these things, and my time as a puppeteer would not be the same without the production, performance, and interaction with the audience.  Puppetry has so many great things going for it, I could talk about it for days!

It seems some folks have heard me mention this, and want to hear more!  Don’t get me wrong, I love to perform my puppet characters quite a bit.  Yet if a group or school would like me to yack a bit about my love of puppets, I am on my way!

Later this month I have been invited to speak to the members of the Cincinnati Woman’s Connection during their monthly luncheon.  I look forward to sharing my story with them, and perhaps make a few new friends for the Wump Mucket Puppets.  I hope they know how big an appetite Coleman has!  Maybe I had better bring a snack for him?

This all began when I was invited to talk to a class at the Compass School in Mason Ohio last September.  The students where told to select someone that they would like to meet, and they chose a puppeteer – ME!  With some help from their teacher of course.  Since then I have also been invited to lecture about puppetry at the Ohio Entertainer’s Camp, that was organized my my puppeteer pal Bob Abdou in Columbus, Ohio this past Spring.  It was a BLAST!

Here’s a photo of Bob and I during the pie fight:

Terrence Burke and Bob Abdou

Terrence Burke and Bob Abdou

If your class, group, or organization would like to learn more about my friendly tale of becoming a puppeteer, feel free to contact me.  I love to chat about puppets!

Jim Henson – The Biography

I enjoy puppetry quite a bit. I enjoy reading books too. When you combine these two interests of mine…. OH BOY!
Terrence Burke reading "Jim Henson - The Biography"
I have recently acquired an advance copy of Jim Henson – The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Last night I finished chapter one and I am happy to say that this book will be on the wishlist of many puppeteers and fans of Henson’s work.
Jones interviewed many of the famous puppeteer’s family, associates, and friends to provide the reader with over 400 pages to tell the story of Jim Henson’s life.
I promise to share more about this book with you soon, there’s a book waiting for me to read!

Summer 2013 is rolling!

My goodess June is nearly over and Summer 2013 is in full swing at Wump Mucket Puppets.
Cyril the Sea Serpent reviews script
So far this summer we have brought our fun to a couple of Cincinnati’s excellent libraries, returned to Summerfair, and made our debut on the stage at Smale Riverfront Park’s “Family Summer Fun” series. It was great to see so many happy faces in the audience at all of our shows. Knowing that I can make you smile makes me happy.
July will be our busiest month EVER! We hope to see some of our old pals, and make some new friends as the Wump Mucket Puppets rock their little puppet show around Great Cincinnati.
Thank you for being a part of the fun!