This is the first time we have brought together this many Puppetry Artists, in an online format, to bring you 10 days of fantastic content. The Puppetry Artists of the Northeast Region come from the USA and Canada, making this an International Puppetry Festival!
Here’s how it works:
When you Register, you are buying a ‘ticket’ for Virtual Puppet Con. This ‘ticket’ is good for all 10 days of content. You will use that ticket to create a password that you use to log into VPC, which is open 24 hours a day. You will only be able to use this password ticket on one device at a time. Now that you are here, what can you do now? Well, start with the schedules. There is an overview, if you just want to know what the hours of released content will be each day. For a more interactive experience, look through the Detailed Schedule, and learn a little more about the Artists and the activities each day. Most of the content is available for streaming until October 11, but the Slam and Open Mic/Potpourri and participating in the Question and Answer sections of workshops are only available at their time in the schedule.
There are Lobby ‘Rooms’ where you can go to interact with other attendees, sort of like being in a Zoom meeting. One of these Lobby rooms is designated as the ‘Meet-the-Artist’ room. Here, as content is released, the Artists will be here to talk with you about their work. This is a casual, informal setting, so if you want to talk with an Artist, you should go to the Meet-the-Artist Room right after their piece ends. The other rooms are places to to strike up conversations with other attendees, to network, to talk about Puppetry, and to meet people. These Lobby rooms will be open 24 hours a day, until the end of October 11.
Performances come in different lengths and also are the most varied in ways they are available. There are short form, long form, medium form pieces so be sure to check length in the schedules if that is important to you. Some performances are recordings of pre-COVID performances, both documentary-style and filmed for the small screen. Some were recorded during COVID-19 restrictions, and had to be done under limitations of time, tools, and people. Some are live performances, and these are different than the rest. The Puppet Slam and Open Mic/Potpourri performance time blocks are the ONLY time those performances can be viewed. These are short-form puppetry, performed by a variety of artists, and are not being streamed as the rest of the event offerings will be. These need to be experienced at the time of Performance.
Workshops are classes and talks about different topics on an aspect related to Puppetry. There are classes on how to make a Puppetry project, business aspects of running a Puppetry company, interactive discussions on a topic, presentations with Question and Answer sessions. Be sure to look around, and remember that you can watch the workshop again, but you only have a limited time during and just after the workshop to ask your questions directly with the Presenter. There are a few special guests who are not puppeteers, but are artists in their own art forms, who are here to share their art form with Puppeteers, and answer questions about the application of their art form to Puppetry.
There are some Unique Offerings. These are one-of-a-kind presentations, and are spread throughout the schedule.
Panels are discussions, with a moderator, on particular opportunities for joining the Puppetry Communities of the Northeast or training opportunities in the Art of Puppetry. These are scheduled once a day, and are a chance to ask questions and learn new things if you are familiar with them or ask questions if they are new to you. From our Puppetry Educators, there is a special panel on Teaching Puppetry using online methods. This is something between a Workshop and a Panel. Teaching Artists from the USA will be sharing their experiences with online instruction.
Puppetry is not just for adults. We have a special section of Virtual Puppet Con for Youth and Families, because an interest in Puppetry can happen at any age. The events in this part of the schedule are geared for viewing by young audiences, although they are also open to all to watch, to be enjoyed by the child within. We suggest watching anything else in Virtual Puppet Con to make sure it is appropriate for your child before streaming it and watching it with them. Many of the other offerings outside of the Youth and Families section are inappropriate because of imagery, language, or boringness to children.
“Puppeteers of America (PofA) was founded in 1937 at the second American Puppet Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio. Paul McPharlin organized the first American puppet conference in Detroit, Michigan, in 1936, which began the process of forming an organization. The organization provides information, encourages performances, and builds a community of people who love puppet theatre.”
– From the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts
“The specific purpose of Puppeteers of America, Inc. is educational: To instruct the public and raise awareness about puppetry as a means of communication, an extension of human expression, and as a performing art. This includes teaching the community about the importance of puppetry as well as enhancing the proficiency of the Art of Puppetry, both professional and amateur, by publications, educational materials, workshops, forums, conventions, festivals, panels, lectures, advisory services, and all other means and methods.”
– From the Puppeteers of America By-laws, updated – November 2014
At the local level, Puppeteers of America encourages its members to form local chapters, known as ‘Guilds’. These are independent organizations, frequently non-profit corporations in their own right. Guilds assist in the organization and support of local, Regional, national, and international puppetry festivals (like Virtual Puppet Con: Northeast Edition!) They also create their own projects, schedules, and activities, specific to the needs of their local membership.
Guilds charter with Puppeteers of America, becoming part of a Region. These regional groups form the internal structure of Puppeteers of America, as programs to encourage cooperation and communications amongst members of Puppeteers of America who live in the geographical areas of the regions, and among the Guilds of those regions. For individuals, this means that you can become a member of a Region either by being a member of Puppeteers of America who lives in the geographical area of a Region, or by being a member of a local chartered Guild that is based in that Region.
The Northeast Region presently has 3 Chartered Guilds and one newly-forming Guild: The Boston Area Guild of Puppetry (BAGOP), The Connecticut Guild of Puppetry, The Puppetry Guild of Upstate New York (PGUNY), and the newest Guild in the Region The Western Massachusetts Puppetry Guild.