Watch the 2018 UNIMA Council Meeting Online!


Starting Sunday, May 13, the 2018 UNIMA Council Meeting begins in Bochum, Germany at the 60th FIDENA Festival. For the first time ever, you can follow the Council Meeting live on the UNIMA Internationale Facebook.

Materials for the meetings, including agenda, reports, motions, and more, are located here on the UNIMA website. Council Meeting activities will take place Monday, May 13 to Wednesday, May 16. Wary of the time difference? The live broadcasts should remain on UNIMA's Facebook to watch at your leisure (and in your time zone)!

Thanks to UNIMA for offering this exciting look into the international workings of our organization!

Puppetry International Wherever You Want It


Starting here: Starting now! As an added benefit of your UNIMA-USA Membership, you can now access the current issue of Puppetry International on your phone, tablet or other connected device. Just go to the Current Member Portal on our website and enter the annual password.

Members, be sure to check your email for the current portal password. 

At last! You can leave your printed magazine on the nightstand, or stored in your Acme Safe in pristine condition, and still have all those pithy articles with you on your Uber ride, in the café, or backstage at the next Puppet Slam. As long as there’s WiFi, PI is there!

A big thank you to Editors Andrew and Bonnie Periale, Webmaster Donald Devet, Ads Liaison Honey Goodenough, and Publications Committee Chair Kurt Hunter (along with the rest of the UNIMA-USA staff and Board of Directors) for making Membership in UNIMA-USA more valuable than ever.



Bonnie Duncan from The Gottabees on Performing in Izmir, Turkey

 Bonnie and Squirrel being mobbed by fans after a performance. 

Bonnie and Squirrel being mobbed by fans after a performance. 

I’ve just returned from Izmir, Turkey where I performed Squirrel Stole My Underpants at the 12th Annual Izmir Kukla Günleri – Izmir International Puppet Days.  During the 18 days of the festival, 50 companies from 26 countries performed all over the city – at theaters, art centers, schools, shopping malls, refugee charities, and even on sidewalks.

I performed Squirrel four times (with lights and sound run by my husband, Dan, who also directed the show) – twice for families who brought their children, and twice for hundreds of wonderfully raucous school groups who came by bus to the theater. After each show, I was mobbed by fans wanting to meet Squirrel.  I felt like I was at home – sharing my own giddy, absurd delight in the world with both children and adults. 

Each evening, we’d return to the hotel for “Puppet Dinner Time.” Although this irresistibly conjured up images of tiny little tables with tiny little place settings, it was in fact a very simple concept: feed the guest artists at the hotel at the same time each day.  This one simple act opened our adventure up in wonderful ways.

We met puppeteers from the UK, Iceland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, India, and Italy.  We all shared tips on what to do, how to travel within the city, and how to get ourselves outside of it.  We organized evenings out.  We talked about contemporary puppet theater and our own approach to puppetry.  We talked about what is happening in the world and in our own lives. 

It’s where we connected, communicating in multiple languages, with hugs and laughter and depth. Our conversations flowed both easily and with some jolts, ranging from: puppeteers we admire; EU and US politics; family dynamics and experiences; corporate ownership of beloved stories and music; experiences touring to Iran, Japan, Palestine, and elsewhere; how we all struggle to make a living and define success; how our shows or workshops went each day.

I will admit that I was afraid of this trip – the US news is very quick to frighten us.  I looked to others who have traveled to this festival and to Turkey in the last year for thoughtful insight and a boost of confidence.  I am so glad I did.  

UNIMA-USA’s mission statement is to promote international understanding and friendship through the art of puppetry.  In keeping with that mission, I want to encourage us all to seek out opportunities to perform outside of the US.  I want to encourage us all to meet puppeteers from around the world and bring them to share their work in the US. 

Let’s share our love of puppet theater.  Let’s work harder to soften the borders that feel as though they might close us off to the world out of fear. 

We are the perfect representatives of the US – we work hard and we do what we love. We try to make sense of the world using common materials transformed into exquisite moments and stories.  We share the stuff of life together with a community of people we don’t know when the theater lights dim, but with whom we are connected by the end of the performance.

- Bonnie Duncan, The Gottabees

 Bonnie AND Dan with the many puppeteers they met in Izmir.  

Bonnie AND Dan with the many puppeteers they met in Izmir.  

Announcing the North American Tour of The Puppet Master: The Complete Jiri Trnka

The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Comeback Company announce The Puppet Master: The Complete Jiri Trnka, the first complete U.S. retrospective of the works of Czech animation master Jiri Trnka (1912-1969), April 20-25. Learn more at
Revered as the pioneer of a remarkable new genre of animation that utilized puppets, Trnka conveyed the drama and psychology of his characters through his figures’ body language, expressive lighting, and camera movement. The director’s approach to puppet film as a serious art form was borne out of the lively Czech puppet theater tradition, which helped preserve the language over centuries of Hapsburg rule when there were no Czech schools, theater, or books published in the language. Already a prolific artist, author, and beloved book illustrator in his country, Trnka made films that had enormous impact on the development of Czech animation, and he inspired the careers of generations of filmmakers and animators around the globe. 

  A Midsummer Night's Dream , courtesy Czech National Film Archive 

A Midsummer Night's Dream, courtesy Czech National Film Archive 

Trnka’s body of work as a director—18 short and six feature-length animated films in total—was rivaled only by Walt Disney Studios in output and brought him international acclaim, from Cannes to Venice and beyond. With his puppet animation studio, founded in 1946, he helped lay the groundwork for Czech animation predominance alongside stop-motion animation masters Karel Zeman, Hermina Tyrlova, Jan Svankmajer, and Jiri Barta. 

This essential series will present all 24 of the artist’s films, including 11 newly translated works and the U.S. premieres of two new digital restorations: Trnka’s Venice Film Festival prize-winning first feature The Czech Year and Old Czech Legends, a breathtaking collection of Bohemian myths. The lineup also features Trnka’s Shakespeare adaptation A Midsummer Night’s Dream, narrated by Richard Burton; his subversive, absurdist, anti-authoritarian trilogy The Good Soldier Svejk; and three distinct shorts programs featuring the filmmaker’s unique early work in hand-drawn cartoons (including Cannes Film Festival prize-winning The Animals and the Brigands), his magical family-friendly works, and his later, more formally and politically defiant films (featuring his final masterpiece, The Hand, about the plight of artists toiling under the restrictions of a totalitarian government). Also included is a two-program sidebar dedicated to Jiri Brdecka, a screenwriter and animation director whose close friendship with Trnka occasioned a number of short- and feature-film collaborations. 

After originating at the Film Society in April, the series will continue on in variations to tour North America. Trnka’s films will screen at the American Cinematheque (Los Angeles, CA), George Eastman Museum (Rochester, NY), Cleveland Cinematheque/CIA (Cleveland, OH), Harvard Film Archive (Cambridge, MA), Lightbox Film Center (Philadelphia, PA), The Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago, IL), The Cinematheque (Vancouver, BC, Canada), Cornell Cinema (Ithaca, NY), Speed Art Museum (Louisville, KY), and more to be announced. 

The touring retrospective is produced by Comeback Company, with support from the Czech Film Fund. Organized by Irena Kovarova with Florence Almozini and Tyler Wilson. Films provided by the Czech National Film Archive. 

Tickets go on sale April 6 and are $15; $12 for students, seniors (62+); $8 for kids under 12; and $10 for Film Society members. See more and save with the 3+ film discount package or All-Access Pass. Learn more at

Alex Zucker; Martina Raclavska; Marketa Santrochova, Czech Film Center; Michal Bregant, Katerina Fojtova, Tomas Zurek, Michaela Mertova, Czech National Film Archive. Special thanks to the Czech Center New York.

Open Call to Young Writers- Send Your Puppet Theater Scripts to UNIMA

Deadline: April 15, 2018

2019 marks the 90th Anniversary of the creation of UNIMA. To honour this date, UNIMA is holding an open competition for young writers aged 18-35 interested in authoring a script or concept for puppet theater. The script will be performed as part of the UNIMA 90th Anniversary celebrations.


UNIMA is in search of a special script/concept for the puppet theater. This creation will be workshopped into four distinct productions that will be performed in four separate geographical regions of the world: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Americas.

Authors are asked to use as theme, subject matter, point of departure, or inspiration for their work the values that UNIMA has sought to uphold throughout its almost 90-year-long history: namely, international friendship and a spirit of openness and cooperation across borders, social, cultural and religious affiliations or partisan beliefs.

The foundation of UNIMA in 1929 took place a decade after the devastations of World War I in a spirit of reconstruction between a Frenchman, Paul Jeanne, and a Czech, Jindřich Veselý. Twenty-eight years later, in 1957, and again in Prague, the first post-World War II UNIMA Congress elected its Presidium (now known as the UNIMA Executive Committee). The German-born Max Jacob was appointed UNIMA’s president and his two vice presidents were the Soviet, Sergei Obraztsov (a former combatant in the war) and the Italian, Vittorio Podrecca (an anti-fascist). The Frenchman, Jean-Loup Temporal, who also fought in the war, would also become a member of the executive branch of UNIMA along with other committed international members of the organization.

These foundational moments in UNIMA’s history are open to your individual interpretation. The stories and themes they evoke can be adapted to any period and to any historical or fictional characters. Keep in mind as you conceive your play/concept that we also wish to promote both UNIMA’s core values as well as the puppetry arts.

The selected author will receive an award of 2,000 euros.

The awardee will also have the opportunity to have his/her script or concept performed, as described above, forming the basis for four productions that will be presented in an international network.

More information can be found here

Call for Entry: International Puppets Festival in Lugano, Switzerland

Interested in performing in Switzerland? The International Puppets Festival in Lugano is from October 13th - November 4th, 2018. 

The festival organizers are looking for children or family shows with little to no dialogue, or with Italian dialogue. Send your applications in to by April 30th!

Click here to learn more about the festival. 


The Jim Henson Foundation Collection of Puppet Theater at the New York Public Library, Theatre on Film and Tape Archive

"The Jim Henson Foundation Collection of Puppet Theater is located at the New York Public Library for the Performing ArtsTheater on Film and Tape Archive.  The collection has over 70 performances from the 1992, 1994, 1996 & 1998 International Festival of Puppet Theater."

You can see what this exciting collection holds on The Jim Henson Foundation website, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to view the collection. 

Call for Proposals: Micro-Festival of Unfinished Puppetry


Deadline for proposal: April 1st, 2018. Click here to learn more about the festival!

The 11th edition of the Micro-Festival of Unfinished Puppetry, organised by Les Sages Fous,
will be held from 20th to 27th of October 2018.

If you have an unfinished puppet project that needs to confront an audience, we would be delighted to know more.

Types of projects that can participate:
- An unfinished theatrical form, lasting 2 to 30 minutes, using puppet or object theatre

- An exhibition or installation project which revolves around the object or the puppet

-  A short film still in development using puppet, object, or stop-motion.

- Unusual proposals are also welcome!

Please send your projects to this address:
contact us by email:
or by mail to:  LES SAGES FOUS, 
80, Saint-François-Xavier, Trois-Rivières, QC, G9A 0A6


Nottingham Puppet Festival, March 22-25 2018,

Nottingham Puppet Festival.jpeg


A first for Nottingham, the Puppet Festival is a celebration of the artistry of puppets and puppetry along with the communities that inspire the stories they tell. The Festival has been put together through a partnership between Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, City Arts and Nottingham Trent University and made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England and additional support from Nottingham City Council, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Midlands3Cities.

Local, national and international artists, both upcoming and old-hands, will be bringing their talents and demonstrating their skills at locations across the city including the National Videogames Arcade, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, Broadway Cinema, Dance4 and the Malt Cross Caves as well as the partner venues.

The mix of shows includes the multi award-winning National Theatre production of War Horse, late-night puppet cabaret, political satire, as well as the retelling of classic stories, and family fun which includes imagined trips into space, a talking mushroom and a menagerie of cardboard animals. The performances will run together with talks and workshops for both aspiring puppeteers and professional practitioners. Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson and Spitting Image’s Pete Sinclair, Philip Pope and Steve Nallon - the voice of Mrs Thatcher - will be amongst those talking about the artform of puppetry and the many different roles it has to play.

As well as bookable events, there will be lots of free events including Pinocchio Puppet-Making workshops, drop-in talks and a host of sights, sounds and fun at the Pop-Up Puppet Village which will make its home in the Old Market Square from the Friday to Sunday of the Festival, and the closing spectacle of the puppet parade.

The full programme, Festival information and booking for tickets can be found here, where there is also a sign-up to the e-newsletter

Call for participation at the 58th International Children's Festival in Šibenik, Croatia

Want to perform at the 58th ICF in Croatia? Click here to learn more about this international festival and the application process! The festival lasts from June 16th- 30th, 2018. Applications are due February 1st, 2018

ICF Croatia.png
The first festival was held in 1958, the result of the initiative and efforts of several children arts enthusiast. During the years Festival has turned into a big complex multidisciplinary multimedial cultural event, which not only displays but invites participation actively. It is a review of the best works for children as well as of the best works by children.
The basic cultural and pedagogical justification of the festival is that it promotes aesthetical education of children and young adults, and develops all artistic forms of children creativity. The festival not only initiates but also stimulates many ideas in art forms for children and by children: dramatic and music arts, puppetry, film, literature and visual art. The festival has the full support of UNICEF and UNESCO and continuing patronage of the Croatian President.
— Ivana Badzim, Festival Manager

Sesame Workshop & International Rescue Committee Awarded $100 Million for Early Childhood Education of Syrian Refugees

Exciting news! Sesame Workshop has partnered with the International Rescue Committee to receive the first-ever 100&Change grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Their project will implement evidence-based, early childhood development intervention designed to address the “toxic stress” experienced by children in the Syrian response region—Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. The project will improve children’s learning outcomes today and their intellectual and emotional development over the long term.

You can learn more about the grant and the project here

sesame workshop & IRC.jpg

Apply for the UNIMA-USA Scholarship to Study Abroad!

Study abroad. Hone your craft. Applications are due December 1st. You can find more information about eligibility and requirements here

A Note from 2017 UNIMA-USA Scholarship Recipient: Dustin Curtis

I was very lucky this year and was honored to be a recipient of the UNIMA-USA scholarship for 2017.

After several years of trying to balance my non-profit arts career and establishing myself in the puppetry arts, I chose to leave my full time job and commit to my career in puppetry with a focus on shadow puppets. Around that time, I saw an international workshop listed on an UNIMA-Europe web page which caught my attention. Teatro Gioco Vita was offering an international workshop, "The Soul of Things."

  Teatro Gioco Vita designer Nicoletta Garioni leading a lecture on colored shadow puppets. Here, she demonstrates the use of glass paint on polycarbonate. Photos provided by Dustin Curtis. 

Teatro Gioco Vita designer Nicoletta Garioni leading a lecture on colored shadow puppets. Here, she demonstrates the use of glass paint on polycarbonate. Photos provided by Dustin Curtis. 

I was immediately drawn to the concepts they proposed and the workshop timed with my plans of going abroad and building my experience. I decided to apply. I cannot stress enough how this opportunity changed my life and my career goals.

The workshop was intensive and introduced me to the way that Teatro Gioco Vita approaches shadow puppetry, both in the dramaturgy and in the construction of their puppets. I am still evaluating the impact this has had on my own work, and I am very excited to see how it plays out. The workshop started with understanding the relationship with the shadow through exercises, continued with an art history lesson in shadow work, had modules on puppet construction, and provided several performance opportunities. The entire workshop culminated with a twenty minute show built in collaboration with chosen classmates. I both premiered in Italy and was featured in a local Italian magazine!

  Dustin and fellow student Stefano Ulivieri working with color application on their puppets. Photos provided by Dustin Curtis.

Dustin and fellow student Stefano Ulivieri working with color application on their puppets. Photos provided by Dustin Curtis.

The biggest take away was the sense of community and family that I have established through this workshop. Not only was I welcomed and treated like a member of the TGV family, but I truly consider it a home away from home. The theatre welcomes past alumni to join upcoming workshops and to continue your own exploration while contributing to the current course being offered. The classmates I started with have become close and dear friends. We stay in touch and offer support in many things puppet.

My course included members from Sweden, Russia, Ireland, Malaysia, Japan, France, Germany, and many parts of Italy, including an American who recently moved to Rome (and also attended the O'Neill shortly after). Already, there is talk of working to bring each other to festivals and planning when we can expect to see each other again. I am proud to have such talented global peers.

None of this would have been possible without the support of the UNIMA-USA scholarship, and I will remain grateful of the investment made into my art and career. If you are considering applying, do it!

Eyes on Kenya: The 9th International Puppetry Festival, Kenya 2018

The Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre (KIPT) is organizing the 9th International Puppetry Festival“IPfest ” Kenya 2018 which will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from 17th to 21th October 2018.

This will be the first time that International Puppetry Festival of this magnitude will be held in Kenya.

Alongside hosting the 9th IPFest2018, the Kenya puppetry fraternity will be celebration it’s Silver Jubilee Celebration – a celebration of 25 years of the existence of puppetry and folk media programmes for health, social justice and political change in Kenya.

Every aspect of the IPfest 2018is being designed with long term sustainability in mind and with a commitment to building partnerships between different embassies, cultural centres, theatre companies,  governments and all stakeholders across the worldinterested in investing in the future of art for children and young people.

The 2018 festival theme is Towards Breaking Barriers. The theme, “ Towards Breaking Barriers” emanates from a conscious desire to deconstruct the idea of place and space of performances through cross-border and cross cultural mixed ability puppetry, physical and object theatre presentations.

The festival also intends to create a platform of expanding, sharing and enhancing skills and knowledge of Kenyan puppeteers as creative entrepreneurs.  As such, IPFest2018 will seek to integrate and present multimedia and mixed ability puppet theatre works involving able and disabled people drawn from across the world,  through a collaborative partnership aimed towardsbreaking social, political and economic barriers across the world.

We believe that hosting the 9th International Puppetry Festival 2018 will bring about increased awareness and enhanced bilateral relationship toward development of puppetry and artistic programmes through, Cross-Border and Cross Cultural Partnership

We invite you to this memorable event as we marks 25 years of the existence of community-based puppetry programs in Kenya.

For more information on how to participate, visit be in touch with us.

Phylemon Odhiambo Okoth,
Director – Kenya Institute of Puppet Theatre


The Complete History of the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts

The Complete History of the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts

History of WEPA 1978-2017
The Online Encyclopedia in French, English and Spanish

Encyclopédie Mondiale des Arts de la Marionnette
World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts
Enciclopedia Mundial del Arte de la Marioneta


The Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) was founded in Prague, Czecholslovakia, in 1929. The organization is rich in history, friendships and achievements. Never, however, have any of the organization’s projects been so enthusiastically awaited nor demanded so much effort, dedication and financial resources as its world encyclopedia of puppetry arts (WEPA). And now it is freely available online in three languages! Whether one opens the Encyclopédie Mondiale des Arts de la Marionnette, the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts or the Enciclopedia Mundial del Arte de la Marioneta, the reader has access to the broadest trove of information regarding puppetry, its history, practitioners, literature and influence ever available in one place. This great dream of UNIMA was initially conceived nearly forty years ago, and the course of its development is fascinating and worth retelling.

Read More

New Victory LabWorks - Currently Accepting Applications

The New Victory Theater, New York City’s premier nonprofit performing arts theater devoted year-round to kids and their families and classmates, announces the call for applications to the 2017-18 New Victory LabWorks program. This unparalleled initiative fosters the creation of new work, offers professional development and advocates for high-quality performing arts and arts engagement in the lives of young people. By providing the necessary resources and mining opportunities for professional exchange among a broad spectrum of arts professionals living and creating work in NYC, New Victory LabWorks champions innovative, venturesome performing arts for audiences of all ages.  

New Victory LabWorks is seeking applications from New York City-based artists and companies interested in creating new work for family audiences in the areas of theater, dance, music, circus, and puppetry arts.

Primarily based in the New 42nd Street Studios, artists selected for the program receive rehearsal space and a stipend as part of an experience tailored to their specific needs and individual creative processes. In addition, artists have access to the feedback and support of New Victory Artistic Programming staff as well as professional development/networking events and the chance to meet with New Victory administrative staff to learn more about how to build or enhance their company's operations and visibility. Artists may also have an opportunity to share their work with other LabWorks Artists and New Victory Member families, experiences which provide the invaluable response of peers and target audiences.

Current and previous New Victory LabWorks Artists include:  Puppet Kitchen; Blessed Unrest; Drew Petersen; Only Child Aerial Theatre; Zachary Fine; Louisa Thompson; The Civilians and Taylor Mac (commissioned by Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis); CollaborationTown; Dead Puppet Society; James Ortiz; Spellbound Theatre and The Village of Vale.

For more information, program requirements and the 2017-18 application, visit

For questions, email Applications will be accepted through March 10, 2017.





229 W 42ND STREET, NEW YORK, NY 10036