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Since 1975 UNIMA-USA has awarded Citations of Excellence (the "UNI") that recognize and reward the best of the puppetry arts in this country. In addition to encouraging worthy puppeteers, the goal of the Citations program is to provide credible recognition that will aid puppeteers as they seek audiences in this country and abroad. The Citations are awarded to shows that touch their audiences deeply; that totally engage, enchant and enthrall. In meeting the criteria for excellent puppetry, Citation-worthy shows must also stand as prime examples of excellent theatre.
(If you think you have a show that meets these criteria, let us know.)

There are approximately 43 reviewers throughout the country who are charged with seeing shows and nominating those that, in the opinion of the reviewer, are the best of our art. A reviewer can make as many nominations as he or she wants. Once a production has been nominated it must receive a total of 3 votes to receive a citation. There is no limit on the number of citations that can be awarded in a given year and so no production is ever in competition with another. (If you would like your work nominated, fill out our online Request for Review Form.)

41 YEARS OF CITATIONS by Steve Abrams

20010 Citations of Excellence Souvenir Book

The 2014 Citations of Excellence winners are...

Read Review Panelists' comments in our virtual
Citations of Excellence Recipients Souvenir Book 2010.

Citations of Excellence Recipients Souvenir Book 2009
Citations of Excellence Recipients Souvenir Book 2008

 The Goal

The UNIMA-USA Citation recognizes excellence in the art of puppet theatre. Citation-quality shows exalt-- and exemplify the best of-- the art of puppetry in North America. Through these awards, UNIMA-USA seeks to stimulate and reward excellent puppet theatre.

 The Review Panels

The UNIMA-USA Citations Committee includes 43 reviewer/members located throughout the United States and Canada. A separate committee of 18 film/video experts review Recorded Media applicants' works. Reviewers are nominated to the committee by the UNIMA-USA Board but, once nominated, their names are kept confidential. Only the Committee Chair maintains contact with the reviewers.
(If you would like your work nominated, fill out our online Request for Review Form.)

The Process The Criteria

Reviewers are asked to view as many shows as possible throughout the year, particularly shows that play in their local areas and shows that have received a request for review. When reviewers see a show they wish to nominate for a Citation, they complete a Citation Recommendation Form and send it to the Committee Chair. If possible, they send the chair information on future play dates, so the information can be passed along to other reviewers in time for them to view the show. At the end of the year, reviewers are asked to send a brief report on shows viewed during the year, as well as any recommendations not previously submitted. Reviewers cannot nominate a production in which they are personally involved.
Tastes differ. Few shows will be acclaimed by all. Many reviewers nominate at most one show a year, and very few nominate more than three. Although many reviewers will see a show at a Festival and many may like it, it is typical for few to recommend it. To award a show with a recommendation, it must touch a reviewer deeply. It must totally engage, enchant, and enthrall.

The criteria generally used by reviewers include:

  •  Script (plot, character development, dialog, structure)
  •  Direction (blocking, pacing, tempo, flow mood, focus)
  •  Acting (manipulation, emotional range, characterization)
  •  Design (sets, costumes, puppets, lighting, props, special effects)
  •  Sound (music, voices, balance, effects)
  •  Overall (dramatic effect, appropriateness, originality)


With no PoA national festival in 2012 and few regional festivals, the Board of UNIMA-USA decided to award the certificates next year at the 2013 National Festival in Swarthmore, PA. Recommendations for next year's Citations are due by February 28. Send to: Marianne Tucker, Citations Committee Chair, 2026 Susquehanna Rd., Abington, PA 19001-4006 or e-mail: tucktale@aol.com.

 Puppetry in Film and Video


To be eligible for this category, a puppet show or documentary must be produced for a recorded medium (primarily, but not exclusively, film and video), rather than a live performance that is taped for archival purposes -- or for purposes of qualifying in this category. To the fullest extent possible, criteria of the existing Citations in live theater apply, i.e.: Citation-quality shows exalt--and exemplify the best of--the art of Puppetry in North America. They must score high on script, direction, acting, design and sound. Additionally, they should represent a superior example of videography, cinematography or relevant recording technology.

The live theater category excludes puppetry for other uses (therapy, education, religion, etc.). Similarly, this category recognizes recordings of puppetry intended as dramatic, artistic. documentary, or theatrical entertainment (primarily, but not exclusively, television and motion pictures.). As with the live theater category, this category gives primary recognition to a production and producing organization, but individual performers may be recognized as well.

The theater category recognizes work in which puppetry is the central, not peripheral, element -- although puppetry may mix with other elements, such as human actors. Similarly, this category recognizes recording of puppetry in which puppets are the central, not peripheral, element. That excludes entries centering on human actors or other non-puppets, with puppets used only for isolated special effects.

Definition of Puppetry:

For the purposes of this Citations category, Puppetry is defined as the manipulation and animation of an object to create the illusion of life. This definition eliminates 2-D cel animation and computer graphics, when those graphics do not originate in the manipulation of an object, such as an "electronic Waldo."

The Process:
Reviewers are asked to view as many candidates as possible throughout the year. They can nominate any recorded performance they see that meet the criteria. Puppeteers and producers can request reviews of any work scheduled for presentation, and viewing information can be sent to reviewers on a timely basis. Candidates can also request that directors of regional and national festivals schedule their video for viewing in video rooms at those festivals. At least once per year, the Committee Chair will distribute tapes submitted for consideration. (Note: A television series -- regardless of the number of individual episodes – will be considered as a single entry for nomination.)

Any production (meeting all other criteria) is eligible for two years after its first public viewing, and has to receive three nominations during that time. Citations will be awarded coincident with the awarding of Citations in the live performance category.

Review Panel Structure:
The Citations Committee Chair is authorized to recruit and maintain an anonymous panel of at least 15 experts in the field of Puppetry for film and/or video. The Chair will solicit nominations from the panel at least once per year.

 Special Citations

From time to time the Board of UNIMA-USA presents a "special citation" to individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the organization and to puppetry,

Special Citations have been presented to:
Andrew and Bonnie Periale 2007
Cheryl Henson 2005
Albrecht Roser 2001 (joint proclamation: UNIMA-USA and Puppeteers of America)
George Latshaw 1999
Allelu Kurten 1993
Vince Anthony 1989
Jim Henson 1987
Nancy Laverick 1985
Nancy Staub 1984
Mollie Falkenstein 1983
Martin Stevens 1982

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