Thank you 2013! You ROCKED!

I had planned to create an entertaining end of year review of Wump Mucket Puppets adventures in puppetry over 2013, then I caught the flu.  Ugh.  I am happy to share that I am on the mend, and will do my best to keep you interested in a look back at what was a FANTASTIC year for me performing my puppets.  Let’s get rolling…

Happy New Year 2013 photo collage from Wump Mucket Puppets

Looking back at my goals for 2013 I see that some were met, some were lost, and a few popped up while the year was in full swing.  Wump Mucket Puppets had the pleasure of performing all over Greater Cincinnati to thousands (yup –THOUSANDS!) of children and their families.  Not too shabby for a little puppet troupe fueled by a dream.

Terrence Burke of Wump Mucket Puppets displays tools while building new space cat puppet.

Terrence Burke displays his measuring and cutting skills while helping build the Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua puppet.

January was cold in Cincinnati.  It’s a very good time to stay inside and build a puppet.  You should try it!  The design team (Terrence, Lara, and Eleanor) put on their thinking caps to create a pet for our space traveling puppet pal G’Wazzl G’Wook.  What did we come up with?  Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua!  Learn more about Kitty here. 

Cyril and Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua rehearsing.  Wump Mucket Puppets

Cyril and Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua rehearsing.   Performed by Terrence and Eleanor Burke.

February started with a meeting with the producers of the local variety/talk show Cincinnality for Wump Mucket Puppets to make a possible television appearance.  A few good ideas were bounced around, yet sadly the program was canceled before anything was recorded.  We didn’t make it onto television this year, which is something that Coleman plans to change in 2014.

Cyril and Terrence Burke on the set of Cincinnality television show, February 5 2013.  Wump Mucket Puppets

Cyril and Terrence Burke on the set of Cincinnality television show, February 5 2013.

With the hope of the television appearance on the back burner, the puppet troupe kicked into gear for the public debut of our new puppet character Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua at Happen in Northside on February 16th.  What a night!  What a crowd!

Here’s a video clip from the show:

Keeping things rocking and rolling, the puppets (and their puppeteer) where interviewed on the Ted Clark After Dark show at the rock club MOTR.  The audience were a bit older than our usual crowd, and may have been drinking something other than chocolate milk. Perhaps that explains their choice of words?  Still it was fun to bring our brand of silliness into a rock club, and Ted was a cool host.  Big thanks to fellow puppeteer Ryan Moore that night.

Enjoy Cyril singing “A Song About Cryptozoology”:

Valentine’s Day was a little over a week late at Wump Mucket Puppets H.Q.  It’s not that we forgot the date, it’s the news that was received on Tuesday February 26th…

Yes fans and friends, we had been awarded our first scholarship!  We were really going to the 2013 Puppeteers of America National Puppetry Festival!  Yipee!!!

Marching along into the end of Winter, the troupe performed at St. Boniface School in Northside.  We were part of the school’s Right to Read Week, and from what we’ve been told were  a big hit!  Here’s part of the kind thank you note we received from the children’s teacher:

Dear Mr. Burke, 

Thank you so much for bringing your Wump Mucket Puppets to St. Boniface.  We loved them!  We were even inspired by your program to make our own hand puppets.

It was around this time that I gave a bit of thought to my philosophy of puppetry, it’s very simple:  “Share the knowledge.  Spread the joy.”

We dodged a few rain showers in April to begin a very busy Spring.  The puppets entertained guests at the Voice For the Innocent/Connections: A Safe Place event at Sharon Woods.  And while the television cameras were looking elsewhere, the microphones at Cincinnati’s NPR affiliate, WVXU were on -inviting us into their studio three times over the year!  Here’s our April interview with host Jim Stump, as we talk about Cincinnati’s National Day of Puppetry:

Terrence Burke and Wump Mucket Puppets on WVXU-FM

Bob Abdou, Linda Mason, Terrence Burke at Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild's National Day of Puppetry celebration

Bob Abdou, Linda Mason, Terrence Burke at Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild’s National Day of Puppetry celebration, April 20 2013 at Happen, Inc.

The members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild presented a fantastic National Day of Puppetry with help from our host Happen, Inc.  It was marvelous to see so many happy people interested in puppetry!  I was a very proud father that day. My daughter performed with me, and even up-staged me to get BIG laughs!  Way to go Eleanor!

Eleanor and Terrence Burke give a pre-show warm up.  Wump Mucket Puppets

Eleanor and Terrence Burke give a preshow warm up at Cincinnati’s National Day of Puppetry celebration 2013.

If you have never attended a National Day of Puppetry, here’s a short video made by puppeteer Bill Yost:

At the beginning of May, we pointed the Wump Mucket mobile towards Columbus Ohio.  I was invited to speak about puppetry at Entertainer’s Camp, organized by our pal Bob Abdou.  What is Entertainer’s Camp?  It’s a day long, low-key, networking event for members of the variety arts (clowns, magicians, jugglers, balloon artists, and even puppeteers).

Terrence performs

Terrence performs “Dancing Queen” with Frank Cesario Entertainer’s Camp 2013

It was great to hang out with puppeteer pals and talk about…puppets!

Frank Cesario, Nate Brown, Terrence Burke at Entertainer's Camp 2013

Frank Cesario, Nate Brown, Terrence Burke at Entertainer’s Camp 2013

Best of all,  the end of day pie fight was a SMASHING success!

Terrence getting a pie in the face!  Entertainer's Camp 2013

Terrence getting a pie in the face! Entertainer’s Camp 2013.

Terrence Burke at Entertainer's Camp 2013

Who wants pie?!?

Then our Summer schedule blasted off like a rocket on it’s way to Mars!  It seemed like we were everywhere, well we were!  Libraries, schools, festivals,  there was no stopping our mighty little puppet troupe.  Somewhere we even found the time to give another chat, this time for the Cincinnati Women’s Connection.  It was during this speaking engagement that a member of the audience told me that my puppetry and love of using one’s imagination reminded her of one of my heroes, Fred Rogers.  I was flattered.

Terrence performs Cyril at the Cincinnati Women's Connection luncheon, July 18 2013.

Terrence performs Cyril at the Cincinnati Women’s Connection luncheon, July 18 2013.

August popped up quicker than you can say Puppetry Festival five times fast!  The car was loaded, the puppets safe in their cases, off to Swarthmore College we went.  We did make a stop along the way, Coleman gets hungry when traveling:


Now I won’t review an entire week, that’s been covered HERE.  However, I will repeat that attending the 2013 National Puppetry Festival was one of the happiest weeks in my life.  I was free to be my five year old self (more or less) for an entire week of nothing but puppets and puppeteers!  Will i be attending the 2015 festival?  You bet your Bert bedsheets I will!

Terrence Burke at 2013 National Puppetry Festival

Keep this puppeteer AWAY from sugary cereal!

Of course Cyril got into the spirit of the festival to perform during Potpourri:

We were even “heckled” by several Sesame Street puppeteers!

The Potpourri

The Potpourri “judges”:  Telly Monster, Grundgetta Grouch, and W. Performed by Martin Robinson, Pam Arciero, and Tyler Bunch. What’s in those cans?

As Autumn made it’s way to Cincinnati, the puppets and I kicked into festival season which brought us to the Edgewood Kentucky Fall Festival, CliftonFest, and a very special performance for our new pals at Saint Joseph Orphanage.  The big news for us was our new stage!

Wump Mucket Puppets perform in their new stage at Smale Riverfront Park

Wump Mucket Puppets perform in their new stage at Smale Riverfront Park, Cincinnati September 15 2013.

The stage was a planned project over 2013, and started late 2012 with the guidance and knowledge of California puppeteer Charles Taylor.  The construction of the stage was a team effort that included my neighbor, and fellow puppeteer, Jesse Mooney-Bullock.
Jesse opened his workshop to me and shared his woodcrafting skills as we constructed the stage together over a few Saturday mornings.

Wump Mucket Puppets stage being built at Bullooney PuppetWorks

Wump Mucket Puppets stage being built at Bullooney PuppetWorks, August 2013.

After I painted the frame, my wife Lara, and mother sewed the curtains for the new stage.

Sewing the curtains for the new Wump Mucket Puppets stage.

Sewing the curtains for the new Wump Mucket Puppets stage.

We had our share of troubles, yet in the end things were worked out and the new puppet stage made it’s debut performance at Smale Riverfront Park on Sunday September 15, 2013.  This was a very special show for me.  I was performing on the same stage as my friend Jesse, who had helped me so much with the stage over the summer.  I was also performing my show for my mother, who lives in New England and has never seen my puppetry -as an adult that is.

Backstage at Smale Riverfront Park

Backstage at Smale Riverfront Park. Looks like the puppeteer wants you to like his Facebook page.

Terrence Burke with the new Wump Mucket Puppets stage.

Terrence Burke with the new Wump Mucket Puppets stage.

Puppeteer with his Mum

Puppeteer with his Mum at Smale Riverfront Park.

As we rolled out the new puppet stage, we also stopped by WVXU again to chat about our trip to the Puppetry Festival and upcoming performances. Cyril considers this the best interview he has given, enjoy:

WVXU has been a fantastic friend to Wump Mucket Puppets.

WVXU has been a fantastic friend to Wump Mucket Puppets.

Here we are with WVXU’s Around Cincinnati host Robyn Carey-Allgeyer.

In puppetry you must be ready to improvise in a split second.  Sometimes this means changing the show a little to engage the audience, sometimes it means packing all your staging and sound equipment away when the weather suddenly changes!  Our second performance at CliftonFest 2013 was in danger of being canceled due to the rain.  What could we do?  There were children waiting for a silly puppet show, I had puppets…  it’s showtime!

Wump Mucket Puppets perform a very odd version of Cinderella (in the rain) at CliftonFest 2013.

Eleanor warms up the audience with Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua at Northside Farmers Market.

At our final outdoor show of 2013. Eleanor warms up the audience with Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua at Northside Farmers Market.

With our outdoor shows finished for the year, we began to wind down and  prepare songs and skits for our silly holiday shows.  I have always loved watching the television Christmas specials such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Year Without a Santa Claus, and love to perform my puppetry at Christmas time.  This year I donated a performance to another of our non-profit friends, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cincinnati.  The clients are a lovely audience, and always have kind words about my puppet show.

Terrence and Coleman the Sasquatch are in a mood for Christmas shows.

Terrence and Coleman the Sasquatch are in a mood for Christmas shows.

But wait, there is something very special that arrived in today’s mail -speedy delivery:

And there is is, more or less,  Wump Mucket Puppets had their busiest year ever!  We thank all our clients, audience members, fellow puppeteers, friends in the media, neighbors, friends, and family.  YOU are the reason I do my very best to create a family friendly puppet show that I would want to see with my children.  Thank you for your interest and allowing me to share my puppetry with you.  Puppets ROCK!

 

 

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!”