About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Wump Mucket Puppets 300 Facebook pals contest

Wump Mucket Puppets 300 Facebook pals contest

We are thrilled to announce our first contest of 2013!

Really folks, this is going to be lots of fun!  We are trying to reach 300 (more would be fantastic!) likes on the Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook page.  To entice new pals we are offering a FUN-TASTIC prize of a custom made video tune for the winner to share their good taste in puppet troupes with the whole wide world!

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch with Tiernan Burke

Coleman the Sasquatch and his pal Tiernan Burke

You would simply not believe what we did to make this contest a special one.  First, we flew our furry puppet star Coleman the Sasquatch in from his vacation in Peru via Learjet.  Then we enlisted the help of our second oldest fan in the world, none other than the one and only Tiernan Burke.  Finally, brace yourselves, our camera crew were allowed into the super secret Wump Mucket Puppets Head Quarters!  It was amazing to see Terrence Burke’s “Desk/Mess”!  It was so exciting we are still covered in goosebumps.

Here’s the video we made at Wump Mucket HQ:

Amazing stuff!  We know that we can count on all our pals to help us reach this goal of 300 Facebook pals really soon.  Please share this with all your friends as soon as you can.  The suspense may keep us up all night wondering…

Wump Mucket Puppets Who Will Be 300 sign

Now what will the Wump Mucket Puppets do to reach 400 likes?   Hmmm….

Wump Mucket Puppets kicks into high gear for 2013

Wump Mucket Puppets kicks into high gear for 2013

What a week we are having at our super-secret headquarters!  It’s been a fantastic week for us.  All this activity is, well… FANTASTIC!

First, a HUGE thank you to Jim, Aretta, John, Sarah, and Lisa for taking the time to write letters of recommendation for my scholarship application to attend the 2013 National Puppetry Festival in August.  Your kind words of praise were truly moving.  I am very fortunate to know each of you.

Wump Mucket Puppets character G'Wazzl G'Wook created by Terrence Burke

G'Wazzl can't wait to introduce you to his new puppet pal!

I have been sworn to secrecy regarding the creation of a new puppet character that is joining our fun little troupe.  The idea has been in my sketchbook for years, it’s about time that I bring this puppet to our stage.  Be sure to come to our February 16th show to see our new puppet pal!

CAPG logo

And last, but not least, the date has been confirmed for Cincinnati’s 2013 National Day of Puppetry celebration!  Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 20th from 12 pm until 3 pm.  Members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild will be presenting a fun packed afternoon of puppet shows, demonstrations, and displays about the history of puppetry in Cincinnati at Happen 4201 Hamilton Avenue in always happening Northside.  You won’t want to miss this!

Book review of The Punch & Judy Show

Review of The Punch & Judy Show: History, Tradition and Meaning by Robert Leach

I have been reading books about puppetry almost as long as I have been interested in puppets.  Did I ever mention that two of first words that I learned to write on my own are the words puppet and circus?  I remember sitting at the kitchen table, asking my mother how to spell these words.  I guess I wrote them so often I was bound to become either a puppeteer or an elephant trainer in the circus (I LOVE elephants!).

Puppeteer Terrence Burke of Wump Mucket Puppets with Cyril the Sea Serpent

Terrence Burke reads "The Punch & Judy Show" to Cyril

The Punch & Judy Show: History, Tradition and Meaning by Robert Leach (1985 University of Georgia Press ISBN 0820308005) was a true delight to read and learn about Punch and his “professors” who have been delighting audiences for hundreds of years.  The author’s research is simply amazing, and follows Mr. Punch from his Italian roots to the streets and village fetes of England.  The show’s tradition has changed with the times, moving from the hustle and bustle of the street, to the Victorian drawing rooms, and finally to the holiday beach resorts.  Forever changing, yet forever part of the culture.  How many puppets can make that claim?  If you are interested in puppetry’s history, this is a great book to learn from.  I am fortunate to have found it among the collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County since it is out of print and rather pricey.

Cover of The Punch & Judy Show by Robert Leach

Cover of The Punch & Judy Show by Robert Leach

Reading about Mr. Punch and his poor wife Judy has inspired me to come up with my own variation of this time tested puppet play in the future, with a 21st century American twist of course!  My wife Lara has even expressed interest in helping perform it!  Be sure to check back to this blog for future developments of the Wump Mucket Puppets version of Punch & Judy.  Keep in mind that originally Punch was a street show and very adult in content.  We shall see what we come up with.  A puppet slam piece?  Perhaps something for a Fringe festival?  Maybe we’ll just busk our merry way through the streets of Cincinnati.

Mister Punch picture by The Owl

Learn more about Punch & Judy: www.punchandjudy.com

Don’t swallow your Swazzle!

Happy Birthday Andy!

Today is my youngest brother Andy’s birthday!

Happy Birthday Andy from Coleman and Wump Mucket Puppets

Did I ever tell you about my brother Andy?  He’s a puppeteer too!  Not only is he a puppeteer, but he often works with very large parade puppets.  And if puppets weren’t enough to keep him busy, you can sometimes find him walking on silts or playing drums.

Andy Burke and his One World Puppets

My brother Andy Burke with a few of his puppets

In celebration of Andy’s birthday, I am dedicating today’s blog to him.  We’ve had our differences over the years, as many siblings do, yet as our hair gets grayer and our backs ache a bit more we find that it’s best to agree on the things that we agree on, and button our lips when we need to on other topics.  Let’s stick to things we agree on, most importantly… PUPPETS!

Andy Burke's puppet Kuumar

Andy Burke's puppet character Kuumar

How we both ended up puppeteers as adults I am not sure.  We both watched many of the same television shows as children, so that may have something to do with it.  Regardless, it’s great that Andy creates his own puppets and performs them at fairs, festivals, and concerts.  Keep rockin’ the puppets Andy!

Have a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANDY, from you big brother Terrence

For more info about my brother’s puppetry check out the One World Puppetry and Performance Art Facebook Page

Flexitube ROCKS!

Wump Mucket Puppets loves the new Flexitube TV puppet show!

It’s been a very long time since I have been excited about watching something on television.  Nothing offered by the networks and cable channels seems worth my time.  However, through the magic of the internet we can watch television shows that are broadcast in other parts of the country!

When I learned that New York puppeteers Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher of Flexitoon Puppet Theatre were creating a new television show “for children and other people” I was very excited.  The show is called Flexitube and it is FANTASTIC!  I felt like I was an eight year old boy again while I was watching the show on our computer with my daughter Eleanor and son Tiernan.  The jokes are funny, the music is catchy, and the puppetry is simply brilliant.  I loved all of the different styles of puppetry used in the show, and the “winks” to famous TV puppet shows from yesteryear.  Bravo Craig & Olga and company!  Here’s a a Vlog that I made this morning with Eleanor and my puppet character Cyril:

You too can watch Flexitube when ever you wish, I think I’ll watch every Saturday morning, by clicking this link: Flexitube On Demand

Gerry Anderson, your shows were FAB!

Wump Mucket Puppets pays tribute to Gerry Anderson

Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke and children

Gerry Anderson fans Eleanor Burke (hiding behind a Stingray DVD), Terrence Burke, and Tiernan Burke

Our world begins 2013 (so much for that Mayan calendar!) without a man who’s puppet and science fiction television programs made many boys and girls happy in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  British television producer Gerry Anderson passed away on December 26, 2012.  His programs featured fantastic futuristic vehicles, realistic looking aircraft, and some cheesy humor too!  I became aware of the show Thunderbirds some time in the early 1970’s when I was a boy growing up in the Boston area.  I don’t recall exactly how I learned about it, yet I do remember that the television station that broadcast the show (WSMW TV-27) was too far away from where my family lived to watch the show with any form of clarity.  Being the A/V club member that I was back then, I figured out that our cousins lived in the broadcast area of TV-27.  FAB!  When we would visit I would attempt to convince my mother that I “had” to watch this show.  Sometimes I was able to convince her of this need, sometimes I would be told to go outside and play with my siblings and cousins.  From the bits of the program that I could view, I could determine that something remarkable was being broadcast, and it had puppets!

The future, as seen in 1975

Several years later, in which I was firmly a sci-fi fan,  I got word on the playground that a cool new television series was going to be on the air featuring two of the actors from Mission: Impossible (another show I loved).  It was 1975 and I was eleven years old when Space: 1999 was launched.  I recall that my brothers and I went crazy for this show.  We were fans of Star Trek, Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea, Batman, almost anything sci-fi related.  Space: 1999 was exactly the show for us, it had lots of spaceships, laser guns, explosions, plus a woman who could change into animals and monsters too!  WOW!  We would often pretend to be members of Moonbase Alpha in our backyard.  Lucky for us, and many other kids, there were a number of toys made to promote the series.  Of course, it was a “Space: 1999 Christmas” at our house that year!  I do wish I still had those toys. Sadly only a tiny part of my Eagle spaceship has survived from my youth to middle age.

Thank Goodness for DVD

Good thing that the future turned out a little different from how it was depicted on Thunderbirds and Stingray, on those shows everything was saved on magnetic tape!  With the invention of digital media adult fans of Gerry Anderson’s programs could now “stand by for action” once again and re-watch the shows that they loved as children.  For me many of his older programs were completely new since I was only familiar with Thunderbirds, UFO, and Space: 1999.  I have since enjoyed watching the children’s shows on DVDs with my children, who in their own ways have become fans of Stingray (Eleanor) and Thunderbirds (Tiernan).  We’ll have to wait a few years before we watch UFO and Space: 1999, as these were adult programs with adult themes and situations.

Wump Mucket Puppets G'Wazzl with UFO toy

G'Wazzl wonders if Commander Edward Straker ever encountered a UFO like this

So thank you Gerry Anderson, and all the puppeteers, designers, actors, model makers, and crew who created these FAB-ulous visions of what the future may have looked like.  You’ld be happy to know that the shows you made are still entertaining children, and their geeky daddies in the 21st century!

Happy New Year!

Wump Mucket Puppets wish everyone a very HAPPY New Year!

What a fab-tastic year 2012 has been for me and the puppet troupe.  All of the activity has proven to me that there is definitely a place in the puppet universe for my style of silliness.  Thanks to everyone who booked my show, laughed and clapped in the audience, interviewed me on television and radio, chatted on-line, rubbed elbows at puppetry guild meetings, or even recognized me around my neighborhood and elsewhere as “that puppeteer”.  YOU made my year a great one.  Let’s do it again in 2013!  Puppets ROCK!

Wump Mucket Puppets creator/puppeteer Terrence Burke

Wump Mucket Puppets creator/puppeteer Terrence Burke at Wump Mucket HQ

What a Year! 2012 remembered

2012 was a remarkable year for Wump Mucket Puppets.

I performed the final show of the year last night for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati.  It’s one of my favorite places to perform.  Why? Read on…

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch at Ronald McDonald House

I was about to bring all of my puppet gear into the children’s theatre when all of the guests and staff were exiting the building. The fire alarms had been set off inside due to smoke in the kitchen area,  luckily no one was hurt and the situation was under control quickly.  I am glad I was still wearing my Oscar the Grouch hoodie.

Wump Mucket Puppets stage in holiday show mode

When everyone was allowed back inside, I set up the puppet stage and prepared to perform the show.  Guests gradually entered the children’s theatre to see the show.  Then it was showtime!  Everything went well, the guests sang along to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, joined in for a few knock-knock jokes, and had some fun.  During our post-show meet & greet the puppets met a few of the children in the audience and passed out coloring sheets (with a few extras for later).

Wump Mucket Puppets with a young fan

I then began to pack up the puppets, sound equipment, and stage when a volunteer brought three children into the theatre.  She told me that they were with a sibling who had just been admitted to Children’s Hospital and had driven from Portsmouth, Ohio, about a two hour drive from Cincinnati.  The volunteer asked if I would bring the puppets back out for these children.  I didn’t miss a beat and brought out Cyril for some friendly chit-chat and a tune. Coleman then shared a couple of his knock-knock jokes and talked about the Bengals with the two boys and The Reds with the young lady.  Finally G’Wazzl barked “Jingle Bells” for the kids and wished them a good night and happy new year.  They left the theatre with some of our coloring sheets and smiles on their faces.

Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke with Coleman the Sasquatch

Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke with Coleman the Sasquatch at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

This is exactly why I am a puppeteer.  To bring a bit of happiness and joy to children through my puppet characters.

As I think about 2012, I have so many happy puppetry memories, here are a few:

  • The puppets performed to HUNDREDS of children and their families.
  • We brought the puppet show to the inner city and out to the country.
  • Two Cincinnati morning television shows and a radio program has us on the air as guests!
  • The first issue of Wump Mucket Puppets Comics was published and given away on Free Comic Book Day.
  • G’Wazzl and Coleman “launched” a U.F.O. from Fountain Square and Cyril sang a version of the WKRP in Cincinnati  theme during the same show.

Best of all, I had a fantastic time sharing my love of puppetry with so many happy people.  Thank you for an amazing year,  come see the  “puppets rock” again in 2013!

Wump Mucket Puppets puppeteer Terrence Burke with his puppets

 

Happy Birthday Caroll Spinney!

Happy Birthday Caroll Spinney from Wump Mucket Puppets!

Today is Caroll Spinney’s birthday.  He’s 79 years young!  Those of you not in the puppetry world may wonder who he is.  Perhaps you have heard of the puppets that he’s performed on Sesame Street since 1969.  I am sure you’ve heard of Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird.

Little did I know it, Caroll Spinney was entertaining me several years before I watched his puppetry on Sesame Street.  You see, we are both from New England.  He performed as Mister Lion on the “Bozo the Clown” show that aired on Boston TV station WHDH.  I watched it almost every morning.  I remember being upset when my older sister started kindergarten.  Not only was she my first playmate, she watched Bozo with me.   Now we had to walk her to the bus stop BEFORE Bozo was on the air.   Not fair!

Here’s a video of Bozo that I probably watched in 1966:

Then in November of 1969, I  discovered something so wonderful and unique it would capture my imagination for the rest of my life…  Sesame Street, especially Oscar the Grouch!

My father was the morning radio announcer on WCCM in Lawrence, Massachusetts around the time that Sesame Street started.  His show was the usual news updates, weather reports, sprinkled with pop music of the 60’s & 70’s.  My dad knew that we would often have his show tuned in at home and would play “I Love Trash” for me now and then.  It was a special feeling, being 5, to have your Dad play one of Oscar’s songs for you on the radio.

As an adult I have had the pleasure of meeting Caroll several times.  He has always offered very encouraging words to me about my puppetry.  In 2004 I met him at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  I brought along my Cyril puppet to show him.  One of the university staff spotted the puppet as I brought it out of my bag to snap a picture with Caroll and Oscar.  She came up to us and firmly said “No outside puppets!” or something similar.  Caroll turned to her and calmly replied, “It’s okay, he’s another puppeteer with the puppet guild”.

Caroll Spinney and Oscar the Grouch with Terrence Burke

Caroll Spinney and Oscar the Grouch with Terrence Burke at Miami University 2004

Not only has Caroll helped educate and entertain millions of children through his puppetry, he has been the inspiration to many puppeteers, myself included.  Thank you Caroll, have a wonderful birthday.

Want more info about the life and career of Caroll Spinney?  Then you will want to check out the new film that is being made: http://www.iambigbird.com/

 

 

Happy! Happy! Jolly! Jolly!

With Christmas less then a week away, I find myself remembering when I was a boy growing up in New England.  Our family would often buy a live tree at a tree farm in New Hampshire.  In early to mid-November we would pile into my mother’s VW bus (without heat!), drive to the farm, and try to agree on a Christmas tree, and eventually tag it.  A few weeks later we would return to have the tree cut down and tied to the roof of the car.  Although my memory of what decorations we used is a bit foggy, I do remember that my parents had sets of Christmas lights that had large bulbs, possibly from the late 1950’s.  When the holidays were over we would drag the tree to the compost pile that sat at the edge of our yard to return to the soil.

My children have only known an artificial tree.  They have never complained about this. Years before we had children, my wife and I bought one because we just couldn’t justify buying a Christmas tree every year, to throw it away.  It seems wasteful.   Once we had a small potted Norfolk Pine tree -one of our cats peed on the tree and killed it!  The cats have since passed away, yet the plastic tree lives!

Puppeteer Terrence Burke of Wump Mucket Puppets

Whether you use a “paper or plastic” Christmas tree, I hope that you enjoy the fun times had around it with your family and friends.  Happy Holidays!

Here’s a fun holiday video I found that i hope you get a chuckle out of:

Watch Santa Claus’ Punch and Judy in Documentary | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com