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!

Thanks for the magic Jim Henson

Thanks for the magic Jim Henson

Statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog at University of MarylandMay 16, 1990.  I was working at a copy center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  I seem to remember that one of my co-workers had heard on the radio that Jim Henson had died.  I felt empty and as if a part of my childhood had just disappeared.

In those days I was creating and recording strange electronic music under the name Histatic Charge.  My interest in puppetry was put on hold for a while.  Yet somehow his death made me feel as if a good friend was no longer with us.  His characters had been a big part of my childhood,  as a young man I was thrilled to see that his work was exploring fantastic new worlds in the films Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.  I suppose I was still a fan back then, just one who focused on other things like music and my then girlfriend Lara, who in two years would become my wife and many years later a very important partner in this little puppet troupe.

I am sure many of us wonder what Jim Henson would have created in the last 23 years.  Would he make another film set in the world of Dark Crystal?  Perhaps he would have pioneered computer generated puppetry.  Would he have put puppetry aside to direct live actors?  We can only guess.  I am sure it would have been fantastic.

“My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.” – Jim Henson

Jim Henson display at University of Maryland

Thank you for sharing your imagination with the world, Jim.  You did make it better.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day G'Wazzl
My mother (Hi Mum!) was my first “audience” many, many years ago.  I learned how to spell the word “puppet” with her help. She helped me make a guitar out of cardboard so I could “play along” with my Banana Splits record…  a million times! She was the one who enrolled me in a puppetry class at the YMCA, and encouraged me to display the stop-motion animation figures that I made at our local library. Some how she agreed to allow me to make a plaster cast of her face (while breathing through a straw) so I could create latex prosthetic make-up appliances.

My wife Lara is very much the “mother” of our puppet characters. She helps refine my sketches and doodles of characters, then uses her many creative skills to make the puppets jump off the page and onto the puppet stage. Lara’s ideas and input help make Wump Mucket Puppets the family puppet troupe that we are. Whether it’s puppet building, script tweaking, or suggesting a theme for a song, Lara’s is very much a part of the Wump Mucket Puppets world.

Finally, thanks to all the moms who bring our young fans to see our shows. We really appreciate that you choose Wump Mucket Puppets to entertain your children.

A letter from Entertainers Camp

A letter from Entertainers Camp

Terrence Burke during the pie fightOn a cold gray morning this past winter I received a phone call from ventriloquist Bob Abdou.  I had met Bob a few times at puppet guild gatherings, and kept in touch with him via Facebook.  Not only do Bob and I love puppets, we share interests in The Beatles, and 1960’s pop culture (Bob’s just a few years older than me).  During the phone call he asked if I would come to Columbus and give an informative talk about puppetry for about 30 minutes at the Entertainers Camp that he was organizing.  Is that all?  I could yack about puppets for days, and often do.  Then he informed me that the day would end with a pie fight!  I was sold.  I told Bob to sign me up for Entertainers Camp!

Terrence Burke and Bob Abdou during the pie fight

Terrence Burke and Bob Abdou during the pie fight.

What is Entertainers Camp?  It’s a relaxed day of sharing experiences and information in what Bob refers to as “the variety arts”.  It’s meeting entertainers who bring happiness to people of all ages through clowning, balloon art, comedy juggling, face painting, magic, story-telling, ventriloquism, and of course puppetry.  It’s about having good, (mostly) clean, fun!

Entertainers Camp 2013 posterOver the Winter and into Spring I scribbled down notes to knock my words into an informal speech to inspire the audience to pick up a puppet and start their journey as a performer.  I do not claim to be a puppetry expert, I only hope to inform others with the knowledge that I have gained from my own experiences.

Terrence Burke and his "abstract baloon art"

Terrence Burke and his "abstract baloon art"

When the day of the event arrived, I got up very early.  Brewed an extra strong pot of coffee, and pointed the Wump Mucket mobile towards the capitol of Ohio… thank goodness for Doctor Who audio books (and auto pilot).

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day.  I did know that a few puppeteers that I know “electronically” would be there, and the chance to shake hands, give a friendly hug, and spend time together was a big enough thrill.  I am very pleased that I had the wonderful opportunity to meet many great entertainers.  If that wasn’t enough, I had the opportunity to get silly and perform a puppet lip-sync with young puppeteer Frank Cesario.  Remember his name, this guy is going to be a star!

Terrence Burke and Frank Cesario perform Abba's "Mama Mia"

Terrence Burke and Frank Cesario perform Abba's "Mama Mia"

As the lead off speaker for the day, I had the job of getting the day of to a good start.  If there was one running theme of my talk, it was my closing sentence, “share the knowledge, spread the joy.”  Of course I brought Cyril to sing a little to the audience, and have them shouting “Puppets ROCK!” at the end of my lecture.  Several “campers” came up to me afterwards to thank me for my suggestions and sharing the information that I have acquired during my time as a performing puppeteer.  Which makes me very happy, sharing what I have learned about puppetry with others.

Entertainers Camp 2013 attendees

Entertainers Camp 2013 attendees, and the top of Bob Abdou's head.

The day will always be a very happy memory for me.  Not only did I get to yack about puppetry, I was able to listen to other entertainers and learn from their experiences and talents.  Thanks for inviting me Bob, I hope you’ll have me back to camp next year.

The Three Puppeteers - Frank Cesario, Nate Puppets, Terrence Burke

The Three Puppeteers - Frank Cesario, Nate Puppets, Terrence Burke

Thoughts of Boston

Boston skyline

It is never easy to deal with headlines these days.  It is even harder when it’s about someone you may know, or a place you are familiar with.  Especially when it’s your hometown.  I was born in Boston, grew up in the suburbs, then moved back to the city as a young man.

The tragic events at the Boston Marathon this week, the people who have lost their lives, or have been seriously injured, have all been in my thoughts.  I have difficulty understanding the reasoning for inflicting such pain, especially during a sporting event that brings pride to the city of Boston.  Why did this happen?

How does this tie in with my puppetry?  Boston is a part of me, I am a part of that city.  My childhood memories of attending a puppetry festival in Boston with my father, or watching classic Boston kid’s TV shows “Boomtown” and “Major Mudd” are certainly a part of my inspiration to create fun puppet shows for families today.

Tomorrow the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild will present our National Day of Puppetry celebration.  While puppeteers can not solve this horrible act of violence, we can offer something that our world could certainly use more of these days, and that is joy.

I hope that you will join us.

Terrence Burke wins scholarship

Terrence Burke wins scholarship

Wonderful news everyone! 

I have been awarded the Emma Louise Warfield Memorial Scholarship for the National Festival of the Puppeteers of America.  I am very grateful to everyone who helped me including Linda Mason (Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild), Aretta Baumgartner (Center for Puppetry Arts), John Lewandowski (Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre), Lisa Davis (Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Cincinnati), Sarah Schellenger (Cincinnati Public Library), my father-in-law Jim Rumizen, Lara, Eleanor, Tiernan, and my family for inspiring me every day to do my best.  Puppets ROCK!

Here’s a silly video we cooked up to celebrate the occasion: