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!