About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

What is a U.F. Oh Oh Oh!

Unidentified floating oatmeal?

Undocumented ferocious octopus?

How about a new tune for Coleman and G’Wazzl to sing while “flying” around in the groovy new spacecraft that is being built for the puppet show!  Yes, dear puppet pals, you will believe that a Sasquatch and a big Orange alien can fly!

G'Wazzl eyes a toy U.F.O. at Wump Mucket Puppets HQ

Why a U.F.O.?  Why not!  G’Wazzl has been visiting Earth, and the puppet stage, for too long.  I felt it was time to give our orange friend from the stars a bit more stage time, and launching a spacecraft seemed like the logical thing to do.  Logical.  Get it?

Back to U.F.O.s…   I have been a fan of science fact and fiction for almost as long as I have been puppet crazy.   I grew up with men landing on the moon, watching Star Trek, Doctor Who, and Far Out Space Nuts on television.  My father was very interested in the possibility of life on other planets, and shared that interest with me.

G'Wazzl reads a book about U.F.O.s at Wump Mucket Puppets HQ

 

One of the many wonderful things about puppetry, it that you can take the puppets anywhere your imagination can go.  We hope that you (and your imagination) will join us when we launch our U.F.O. on Fountain Square next month.  To the stars!

Big Bird needs YOUR help!

I am a huge fan of puppeteer Caroll Spinney.  Why this particular puppeteer?  Why not Jim Henson?  Why not Gus Alligretti?  Oh, believe me, I love Jim’s and Gus’s work quite a bit.  Yet for some reason, in 1969, my almost 5 year old eyes watched Caroll perform Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird on Sesame Street and loved them ever since.Oscar the Grouch autograph sent to Terrence Burke from Caroll Spinney

It was at that point in my life that I can say that I was bit by the “puppet bug”.  I do remember that one of the things that made the Oscar puppet so appealing to me was that he was originally orange, and guess what?  Orange is my favorite color!  I also enjoyed his sarcasm, yet probably didn’t quite understand what that was back then.  Not too long after seeing the premier of Sesame Street, my father took me to a puppetry convention in Boston to meet the orange Oscar and his puppeteer.  I did not know it then, but it was a life changing moment.  Meeting my puppeteer hero and his superstar puppet character would plant the seed in my very young head that one day I too would be a puppeteer.

Now let’s jump ahead a few decades to 2004.  I learn through the puppet grapevine that Caroll will be in the Cincinnati area to promote his book The Wisdom of Big Bird (and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch): Lessons from a Life in Feathers.  Of course I was in the audience to hear him read from the book.  I remember being so happy that I almost began to cry.  The early part of that decade was an emotional time for me.  My father had suddenly passed away in 2001, I was having a difficult time finding a job that I wanted to be at, and my wife Lara and I were expecting our first child.  During those years I was slowly laying the foundation of what would eventually become the Wump Mucket Puppets.  Caroll Spinney, Oscar the Grouch, Terrence Burke and a peeking Cyril the Sea Serpent.

Caroll’s reading was lots of fun, especially when he brought out Oscar and sang “I Love Trash” to the audience.  After the reading I hung around the reception area to get up enough nerve to say hello.  I am glad that I did, for Caroll was very kind and appreciated the fact that another member of the puppetry community had come to see him.

A couple of years passed, we were busy raising Eleanor, and expecting our son Tiernan’s birth.  I was still getting things together for the puppet show during my “free” time.  I mailed Caroll a letter with a photo or two to share my progress with him.  A while later he replied with a very kind note that included this message:  Note from Caroll Spinney to Terrence BurkeI was thrilled!  The puppeteer who’s work captivated me as a child and inspired me to become a puppeteer as an adult had just suggested that I “keep puppeteering!”.  Wow!  Now I really had to get my puppet show together and get my puppets out where children could see them, after all, Caroll Spinney had told me to!

I am very pleased that a documentary is being made about Caroll, his life, and his work as a puppeteer.  If any of our readers or audience members have the means to contribute to what I consider a very important film, please follow this link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/iambigbird/i-am-big-bird

I have made a contribution, and hope that some of you will too.  Thank you.

 

Bitter about Litter

Over on our Facebook page I recently shared with our fans where ideas from songs come from.  Sometimes the ideas pop into my head and I have to search for a pencil to scratch it down before it’s lost to time.  Other times ideas are more obvious and are inspired by daily life.

Coleman at our info table at the Taft Museum of Art

Here’s the first verse of a tune that Coleman sings in the show:

Oh it make’s be kinda bitter,

To see all this litter thrown all over the ground-ground-ground.

It makes me wanna scream, to see tires in a stream,

when they should be spinning round-round-round.

This song was inspired by the litter that I pick up nearly every morning while taking my daily walk around my neighborhood.  It makes me sad that the people who throw their trash on the ground do not care about the place where they live enough to keep it nice and clean.

When I was growing up I remember watching TV public service announcements that featured the costumed character Woodsy Owl (another way to say BIG puppet).  Back then children were encouraged to “Give a hoot, don’t pollute”.  Are today’s youth missing that message?

When Coleman introduces his song in the show, he expresses how sad it makes him feel when he finds litter strewn about the forest and picnic grove. I hope that a little bit of his song is lodged in the minds of the children watching my puppet show so they remember that “every litter bit helps”, and help keep our planet a cleaner place.

Here’s Woodsy Owl’s tune that found it’s way into my childhood memories:

Woodsy Owl PSA from Youtube

 

Sharing Joy

On Tuesday evening I had the pleasure of performing for the guests at the Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati.  I am honored that the staff invited me to entertain the children and their families and share my love of puppetry with them for an hour of their day.

Wump Mucket Puppets stage at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

When I was a young boy I made a few trips to the hospital.  I remember that they can be very scary place for children.   As an toddler I found the open cellar door and rode my walker straight down the cellar stairs.  Luckily I can’t remember this.  My parents told me that I was cut up pretty bad.  As I grew up I had my share of stitches and other common childhood bangs & scrapes, nothing serious enough to stay in the hospital.  Our community is very fortunate to have the Ronald McDonald House available to families who’s children need special care.

Bulletin Board at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

The Bulletin Board at Ronald McDonald House with Wump Mucket Puppets photo.

Meeting with the children in the audience after the show was a very heart warming experience.  One little girl told me that she was going to make a sister for Cyril when she went home.  Several of the children let their imaginations wander and pretended to swim around the theatre with Cyril and his tail.  It was a magical moment that I will never forget.

Wump Mucket Puppets at Ronald McDonald House Cincinnati

After the puppets were packed into the Wump Mucket mobile, I took a tour of the Ronald McDonald House with volunteers Rhiannon Jones and her grandmother (who’s been a RMHC volunteer for over 10 years!).  What an amazing place it is!  Not only do they have a children’s theatre that is perfect for a puppet show (and swimming with sea serpents), but there is a library, large lounges to relax or read in, a game room, and guest rooms for the families staying there.  Everyone who volunteers, donates, and helps in what ever way that they can are “fab-tastic” people!  Thanks again to the guests and staff for allowing me the opportunity to share my talents with you.

We ROCKED June 2012!

 

My goodness, what a month June has been for our little puppet troupe.  We performed seven shows to HUNDREDS of smiling faces, made our radio debut on WVXU, and even performed our first “Living Room” puppet show.  Wow!

Wump Mucket Puppets with some young fans at Taft Museum of ArtEver wonder what we use to bring our silliness to the puppet stage?  Let’s review some of our “supplies” in June:

  • 2 bags of Honey Lemon Ricola – the puppeteer “lives” on these things
  • 14 Constant Comment Green Tea bags
  • 327 Wump Mucket Puppets coloring sheets
  • 2 rolls of red duct tape
  • 1 tank of gas for the Wump Mucket Mobile
  • 7 Thank You cards with 7 postage stamps

G'Wazzl with his jar of Play-Doh  -  Wump Mucket PuppetsOh, how could we forget?  One (empty) jar of Play-Doh!

Thank you to everyone who came to see us in June, and to the kind folks who booked our show.  We had a wonderful time and hope to see you again.  Come see us in July!

 

 

Loveland Frog found in the Puppeteer’s Sketchbook

Performing our shows at Julian’s Deli in Loveland, Ohio (next show on 7/15 @ 2 pm!) has inspired me to create a new puppet character based on the one and only Loveland Frog!  What?  You’ve never heard of this strange creature?   The Loveland Frog hasn’t been seen in many years, so I am writing a skit for the show titled “The Legend of the Loveland Frog” and hope to bring this little cryptid some long overdue recognition.

Sketch of Loveland Frog puppet idea

Here are a few sketches that Lara and I have come up with as we develop this new character for the puppet show.

Sketches of Loveland Frog puppet ideas - Wump Mucket Puppets      Sketches of Loveland Frog puppet ideas - Wump Mucket Puppets

And here is a short video with me working out the puppet’s voice with a snippet of a song:

The ball is rolling for this new puppet character, soon we’ll need a name.  Any thoughts?

Send your name ideas to our official Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/wumpmucketpuppets

Ribbit!

Puppets on the radio?

Who ever heard puppets on the radio?  That’s preposterous!  Perhaps, yet somehow it worked for Bob Smith and Edgar Bergen.  Last night Wump Mucket Puppets made the leap from the puppet stage to the air waves on Cincinnati’s NPR radio station WVXU 91.7 FM.

Here is a link to listen to our interview on WVXU’s “Around Cincinnati” program: http://www.wvxu.org/schedule/aroundcincinnati_archiveview.asp?ID=6/17/2012

Thanks for listening to the interview, and thanks to WVXU producer/host Lee Hay for inviting me and “the gang” on the show.  As they used to say, “Stay tuned…”

Wump Mucket Puppets ROCKS the Taft Museum of Art

Short and sweet blog tonight since I am tuckered out.  Rockin’ puppets is hard work, honest.  Our two performances at the Taft Museum of Art were wonderful!  We had 108 people come and see us, which may be a record for this little puppet troupe.

Everything about today’s shows was great.  The audience, the Taft’s staff, and even The Reds helped by sweeping The Mets!  What was really special is that it was on Father’s Day.  My Dad was very supportive of my interest in puppetry as a child, and to pay tribute to him I had Coleman perform a new tune titled “For Dad”.  I hope that in some way he heard it.

In addition to the shows, my interview aired on Cincinnati’s NPR radio station WVXU 91.7 FM.  My puppets really are popping up all over the town!  A heartfelt thank you to everyone who came to see the shows today, we hope that you’ll come see us again real soon.

Terrence Burke and Cyril the Sea Serpent at the Taft Museum of Art

 

 

W-U-M-P in Cincinnati!

Baby, if you’ve ever wondered,
Wondered whatever became of me,
I’m rockin’ with the puppets in Cincinnati,
Cincinnati, WUMP.

Cyril at the WVXU FM studios

Don’t touch that dial!  Wump Mucket Puppets are coming to a radio (or computer) near you!  You read that right puppet pals, the Wump Mucket Puppets will be guests on Cincinnati radio station WVXU (91.7 FM) during the “Around Cincinnati” program that will be broadcast Sunday June 17th from 7 to 8 pm.  Don’t worry if you miss the show, WVXU will have a mp3 archive of the program available on Monday June 18th.

Cyril, puppeteer Terrence Burke, and Coleman at WVXU FM

The puppets and I had a grand time being interviewed by host Lee Hay and hope that you will tune in to hear the program.  Some of you may know that a few years before the puppets came into my creative life, I produced and hosted “Doctor 13’s Audio Lab” on Cincinnati’s community radio station WAIF FM from 1993 to 1999.  It was fun to be back in a radio station again.

Puppets ROCKED at Summerfair 2012!

What a wonderful day it was to be a puppeteer in Cincinnati, Ohio!  The Wump Mucket Puppets made their debut performance at the Youth Arts Stage at Summerfair Cincinnati and it was LOTS of F-U-N!  Many thanks to our GREAT audience, you were a pleasure to perform for.

Not only was this performance fun to do, it adds Wump Mucket Puppets to the list of fine puppeteers who have performed their act at historic Coney Island Park where Summerfair is held every June.  What list is that?  You may have heard of a couple of these folks:  Tony Sarg, Sid & Marty Krofft, Larry Smith, and I am sure many others.  WOW!  That’s practically a “who’s who” of American puppeteers!

Wump Mucket Puppets at Summerfair 2

As Coleman sings in his “Things That I Dream” song, “These are the things that I dream, and somehow they seem real to me”.  I am now living my childhood dream of being a performing puppeteer, and it is very real to me.  May this dream never end.