Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Hey Puppet Fans! The PIP is starting a CONTEST!! Our posters are going up around town. The first FIVE people to find a poster posted around town in a DIFFERENT location, take a picture of it, and share or post it here on our Facebook page will get a FREE TICKET! To our upcoming show, ELF EMPLOYMENT!! (One winner per person, please.)
Our "Elf Employment" poster looks like this
click me to go to the FACEBOOK page

Good Luck!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PIP's 2012 Calendar Sneak Peek!

The PIP Company members this weekend and discussed our calendar for 2012. Though we are still fuzzy on some of the details, here are the 3 shows we will be producing in 2012:

  1. Experimental (Summer) -- Though I am trying to make each of our shows unique, this "experimental" show is for us to test new technologies and directions for the company. IN 2011, we discovered that the experimental Blacklight part of Puppet Katamari was a big enough hit to make it into its own show. The 2012 show is pushed back into the summer so that we have time during the Winter and Spring to research and develop the technology.  We are still working on what the Experimental show of 2012 will actually be, but it will include something you haven't seen us do before -- something NEW.
  2. Underwater Blacklight Adventure (Fall) -- We found that the blacklight undersea adventure we did in Puppet Katamari was a really big success. Enough so that we are building the idea out into its own show, with additional puppets and an extended training period for our puppeteers.  This will be our biggest production of 2012.
  3. Holiday Musical (Winter) -- This year it's "Elf Employment". The show is an improvised puppet musical set in Santa's workshop. Each performer playing one elf throughout the run of the show.  We are also having a new Guest Star each night playing the role of Santa. Depending on what we learn from the 2011 "Elf Employment" show (and from our other 2012 shows), the 2012 "Holiday Musical" will be a narrative show of some sort set in a holiday setting.

American Short Fiction Launch Party

The PIP is doing a bit of Puppet Improv at the upcoming "American Short Fiction" event on Nov. 19th! They will be reading the animal-themed stories they've recently published. The event is at Domy Books, a really cool arts bookstore at 913 E Cesar Chavez.

Perhaps we will see you all there!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Art of the Musical

This holiday season the PIP is bringing you an improvised musical set in the magical landscape of the North Pole and Santa's Workshop. Each night we will have a Special Guest Star playing the role of Santa, while all the elves and woodland creatures will be played by puppets.

Though the PIP has created puppet musicals in the past, this show will be unique in its focus.  We are trying some new skills with that will make it unlike any other improvised puppet musical we've done. First, we are really focusing on character development and will be creating puppet characters that will have a life of their own outside the show.  We are doing this by developing character histories, and working closely with a small cast who will consistently play the same puppet character(s) throughout the show.

In addition to building our character skills, we are bringing in Susan Dias -- a veteran Sesame Street writer, and NYC musical theater improvisation instructor -- to help train the cast to strengthen the "book musical" quality of the show. We also hope to be joined by a few new musicians and musical guests.

"Elf Employment" (title by Valerie Ward) is directed by Sara Farr, who will join the cast in playing in the show. Other cast members include: Kate Bojanek, Topping Haggerty, Howard Katz, Patrick Knisley, Amy McKenna, Jesse Overright and Chadwick Smith.

The show is presented by Gnap Theater Projects in their mainstage show for the first 3 weekends in December. For more info and tickets, visit the website.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Puppet and People FLASH MOB!

Wanna make your OOB experience
Come help Puppet Improv Project shoot a video spoof of Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams (I Walk Alone).

In the short, a singer (a person) is singing about being isolated and alone. Some friendly puppets here his/her lament and come up trying to make friends. The singer, despondent, pushes them away. New puppets keep trying to come up and make friends or give hugs, but the singer keeps pushing, then punching, and finally booting them off frame. However, the puppets keep coming and they overwhelm the singer, who starts running and trying to hide from them. But the puppets, and now pedestrians, keep finding the singer and trying to get close to him/her. Until (final lines, final shot) there is a mass of people and puppets chasing the singer down Congress Ave to the gates of the capitol where he/she sings the last lines to the crowd.

We are going to be filming the CROWD SCENE at the end during the Out Of Bounds Comedy Festival that takes place during the week before and weekend of Labor Day.  THE FLASH MOB part will take place on
Saturday 9/3
If you want to participate, send an email with “ALONE” in the subject to:

Monday, August 15, 2011

PIP Video Short - shooting on Thursday

Hey all you PIP lovers! This Thursday night, we are shooting some video for a montage in the video short "Stolen" for the upcoming Puppet Katamari show. Our goal is to get a bunch of ppl with puppets going to SoCo, 6th Street, Amy's Ice Cream, the Broken Spoke, Alamo Drafthouse and some other "Austin" places.

If you wanna help and play a puppet (or a person) in our short, please let me know so I can plan on who is coming - email me at We will meet at Fran's Hamburgers on South Congress at 7pm.

Cya there!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Puppet Katamari Cast is Set, & PIP Gains Sponsored Project status under ACA

Cast is set for the upcoming show. We had a lot of fun people audition for this show which made my decision difficult, for which I was very grateful.

CAST - John Brewster, Jay Byrd, Topping Haggerty, Howard Katz, Patrick Knisely, Nancy Lyon, Amy McKenna, Menelaos Prokos, Chadwick Smith, Leng Wong; LIGHTING & VIDEO TECH - Gene Joe; DIRECTOR - Sara Farr

Also, I learned this week that the Puppet Improv Project's application to become a sponsored project under the Austin Creative Alliance was accepted. This is great news as it takes the pressure off me to fund everything, and we can now start looking for funding to help bring in training, sponsor workshops, help us enter festivals and travel, and generally share our art form with a larger crowd.  In the immediate future, this could mean that some of the things we planned but were doubtful we could do in the upcoming show, can now happen. Yay!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Puppet Katamari - Video and Auditions

Whew! What a GREAT day. :-) The PIP had a morning video shoot in Zilker Park for a comedic short film we are working on for the upcoming Puppet Katamari show. It included a bunch of kids and Schave & Reilly and it went off splendidly. The rain clouds threatened - it was humid - but as usual, no rain. Good for us, bad for Texas.  We also got to then shoot some video of the puppets riding the miniature train!

That was really fun. I've never ridden the Zilker Zephyr, and even though a small child fell off the train (and was scared but did NOT get seriously hurt, and in fact finished the ride), both the ride and the puppet filming was MORE than I had hoped it would be. I really do LOVE trains, and have a dream of someday opening my own PUPPET THEATER with a little toy train that circles the room on a elevated track when it's time to open house for shows. This imaginary theater will be called "The Depot" and have a train station theme. Doesn't that sound AWESOME!! So imagine my joy at getting to ride a tiny train in Zilker with a bunch of friends acting silly with puppets.

BTW! Those awesome puppeteers today were: Jayme Ramsey, Gene Joe, Topping Haggerty, Cody Melcher and Amy McKenna. And I had great acting and production assistant support from the fabulous Jenn Baldillez.

After that, the PIP held auditions for the upcoming Puppet Katamari show. We had a nice big group auditioning and everyone was really strong. It is going to be a tough decision to narrow down the list -- which is a success in itself.

Next up for the PIP? More filming and finishing our puppet building. Once the cast is set, our rehearsals begin. Look to the site soon for ticket sales, and look to the newspapers soon for our ads. THIS SHOW IS GOING TO BE GREAT!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blacklight Puppets

Here are some blacklight puppet designs for the 3rd quarter show, Puppet Katamari.








Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Puppet Katamari" Casting Call

The Puppet Improv Project is ramping up production on it's next show, "Puppet Katamari" (directed by Sara Farr).


The show will be a puppet variety show lasting 1 hour and 40 min, (with a 10 min intermission). There will be pre-filmed puppet video shorts, some games/scenes created like Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, filmed live over the players heads, and an underwater themed black-light narrative (3 acts interwoven into the show).


"Uncensored Shows" Fri. 9/23, Sat. 9/24, Fri. 9/30, Sat. 10/1 @ 8PM
This show will be rated "T [Teen]" for audiences ages 13+
(1 hour 40 min with a 10 min intermission)

"Family Matinees" Sun 9/25 & 10/2 @ 2PM
This show will be rated "E [Everyone]" for audiences ages 6+
(only 1 hour, no intermission)


We will rehearse once a week starting in August (time/date pending).
Rehearsals will be split into skill sets to maximize rehearsal time. Though the best effort will be made to set an accommodating rehearsal schedule, cast members will be REQUIRED to attend all rehearsals relevant to their role in the show in order to be cast into the show.
* Tech (just tech ppl) - 7pm Tue, Sept 20th
* Full Tech - 7pm Wed, Sept 21st
* Full Dress - 7pm Thu, Sept 22nd


Principle cast includes Topping Haggerty, Patrick Knisley and Bob Khosravi. We will have a stage manager and tech assistant to Sara Farr (director & lead tech). However, we need a SEA] of supporting players to help create our PUPPET KATAMARI show.


Sat. July 30th 2-4pm.


Yellow Room at the Dougherty Arts Center, 1110 Barton Springs Rd


Come wearing comfy clothes that allow you to move freely. Knowledge of puppet manipulation and puppet improv basics are a PLUS!


We are reaching out to all of Austin in search of people who SERIOUSLY want to PLAY with puppets, and be a part of the BIGGEST puppet improv show in Austin. Some puppet manipulation skills with Fleece & Foam puppets is helpful. BUT, if you'd like to be a part of this show and learn more about puppet improv, this will be a good learning opportunity.


You *must* reserve an audition slot and let me know you're coming to make sure we have room for everyone. The Auditions will run 2 hours, but you will not be required to be there the entire time. Each persons slot will be a limited time.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Super Fun @ "Nerd Nite"

The PIP made an appearance last night at Nerd Nite to talk about our passion for puppets.

This monthly event is really cool because it's a bunch of people talking about the THING that they are obsessed with. Last night the 3 speakers talked about birds watching, hydroponic plants and puppet! I was the one talking about puppets. Patrick Knisley went with me to do a puppet improv demo. We also brought up a nerd from the audience to play with us. It was SUPER fun!

So, here is a BIG thank you to the organizers - Dan Rumney, JC Dwyer and Lewis Weil- who were kind enough to let us share our love of puppets and improv. Check out their site for info about upcoming shows.

Here is their website - NERD NITE AUSTIN - and you can find their Facebook page HERE and join their group HERE.

If you are sad you missed us, come on over to the Puppet Improv Project Facebook page HERE so that you can learn about our next shows and appearances.

Puppet "Magic"

I got to work with a new group of puppet improvisers in the recent PIP Workshops. Watching these guys pick up and improvise with puppets was delightful. It seems a bit "magic." I remember learning about this "magic" on my trip to Atlanta and the Center for Puppetry arts back in September. Puppets act on our psyche in two ways.

First, they act on our intellect. We understand they are not real, and we suspend our disbelief and see them for what they are -- symbols. And since our brain is already in a mode to see everything in a puppet show as symbolic, it really messes with us when the other punch lands. (Punch! Ha ha!)

Second, they act on our spirituality. The "base" puppets dredge up our own memories, and then they become part of our association with the iconic symbol the puppet represents.

Pinocchio & Cricket

Fraggle Rock Fun

Snaps? Ingenious!

Wrap Party

Behind the Scenes of Fraggle Rock: Blue Screen

Behind the Scenes of Fraggle Rock: More Blue Screen

Money for Minny

The "Puppet Improv Project" (PIP) and "Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals" (GGG) are heading to Minneapolis for the Twin Cities Improv Festival in June. Please join us for a Very Special Saturday Night Special to help us get there!

The Puppet Improv Project will open the show with "Puppet Fever", followed by Girls Girls Girls' musical improv stylings. Girls and puppets all in one show. Irresistible.

Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will help cover our travel costs. Stay around for the after party and pay what ya want for beer, soft drinks, and Emily Breedlove's famous cupcakes.

Please go to to purchase tickets online.

2 Free Summer Workshops

By popular demand, the PIP will be hosting 2 puppet workshops this summer. And, we understand that people's pocket-books are a bit light this year, so both workshops will be FREE!! However, the space is limited, so only the first 14 ppl to sign up will get in. Check out the Workshops area of the site to get more info.

Puppet "Mayhem" for Gnap Theater Projects

Look who I'm taking with me to the Gnap Theater Projects "Mayhem" fundraiser party tonight. This gorgeous puppet will be in the Silent Auction and could be yours to take home if you take the time to come place a bid! at "SPACE 12' -- 3121 E 12th St Austin, TX.

Join Gnap! Theater Projects for our first annual spring/summer fundraising spectacular!

Featuring the destruction of an effigy of Gargamel to welcome in the summer weather, free drinks from Republic Tequila and eats from Gastrogiant, and entertainment from awesome Austin locals, Gnap! Mayhem promises to be a great evening in support of some fun local theater makers.

Musical acts include:

Best Best Best Friends at 7:30 (outdoor procession)
Band of Liars at 8 pm
Mongoose at 8:30
Southpaw Jones at 9:15
Linen Closet at 10:15

At Space 12, 7:30 to 11

Price $20 normal people, $5 broke ass artists

Admission gets you access to great eats and drinks and we'll have items up for silent auction, including some rare Gnap! memorabilia and other sundries. Hope to see you there!!

Be our Facebook Friend

Hey puppet lovers! Be our Facebook friend and get even more news about what’s up with PIP. Just posted some sweet photos of our new puppet cast.

Facebook! It's not just for kids anymore!

Summer Musical & Travel

The summer is heating up here in Austin, TX -- probably in part due to the fact we've started rehearing the "Puppet Fever" show that we will be taking to Minneapolis, MN at the end of June as an official selection of the Twin Cities Improv Festival. We are going to be improvising a complete summer themed musical... in under 20-25 minutes. So far rehearsals have been a ton of fun as we are playing with favorite characters from some of our most favorite summer themed movies -- ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,’ ‘Beach Party,’ ‘Picnic,’ and ‘Summer School’ (the 1987 version).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fortunately, Unfortunately...

I had a bit of bad luck this past week -- my car was stollen . That in itself was a blow, but what was even more shocking and sad was the moment I realized most of the PIP hand-made puppets where in the trunk.

Fortunately, my car was found a few days later. It is now in the shop getting the break-in damage repaired.

UN-fortunately, the puppets that were in the trunk were gone. This was especially stressful as the PIP is in rehearsals for our next run of shows -- "PIP on TV" -- and we had our 2nd rehearsal coming up! I basically had ONE day to get enough puppets for us to use at the rehearsals, or else our show timeline would be ruined.

FORTUNATELY! my friends have been incredibly generous. When they learned what had happened, Patrick & Erica Knisley of "Abstract Rainbow", surprised me by coming over and donating TEN <<10>> puppets to the PIP! Additionally, some friends come over this past weekend to help build puppets. We cranked out shells for 15 more base puppets! Additionally, my dad is creating an additional 5-10 puppets he plans to deliver before the start of our next show run. SO! not only is the PIP back in business, but we will be better than ever, with 20-30 NEW PUPPETS in our cast!!

I feel incredibly lucky, and am extremely grateful, that my friends have come to love the PIP as much as I do and have contributed to keeping it going, even when it seemed like we would be KO of our March shows. So here is a B-I-G shout out to all the incredibly awesome people who have helped rebuild the PIP Puppet Cast in just a few days!!

Patrick & Erica Knisley
Amy & Walter Averett
Andreas Fabis
Topping Haggerty
Menelaos Prokos
Jessica Salinas
W. Emil Farr

Also, since I am in midst of generating a new puppet cast, my brain is in puppet building mode and I see life in the strangest of objects. Found this "Jim Henson Hour" episode called "Monster Maker" that hits close to home. Enjoy!!

The Jim Henson Hour, Episode 6 "Monster Maker" 1/6 --

"PIP on TV" in rehearsals

We are into our rehearsals for our upcoming run of shows in March at the Hideout Theater, "PIP on TV". We are working with a camera and monitor system and finding it pretty difficult to get used to the NON-MIRRORED effect of watching ourselves on a TV screen. We are also working to be more accurate in our eye focus and economy of movement. We were all wiped out after a two hour work out. Working above our heads is exhausting! Here are some videos of Henson talking about the art of PUPPETS ON TV...

The Jim Henson Hour - Lost Episode 2/6 "Secrets of the Muppets" --

The World of Jim Henson (1994) 1/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 2/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 3/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 4/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 5/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 6/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 7/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 8/9 --
The World of Jim Henson (1994) 8/9 --

Monday, January 31, 2011

Research - Marionettes & Rod Puppets

Very cool Marionette

Cool fish, and rod ballerina

Research - Let's Go Fly a Kite! (or build a giant puppet!!)

Kite Builder Dot Com

Research - Disney Park shows that use Puppets!

Finding Nemo: The Musical- Disney's Animal Kingdom (Part 1)

Finding Nemo: The Musical- Disney's Animal Kingdom (Part 2)

Finding Nemo: The Musical- Disney's Animal Kingdom (Part 3)

Research - Baby Tooth & the Funky Funk

Baby Tooth and the Funky Funk
Baby Tooth and the Funky Funk are a trio of rod Muppet monsters from Sesame Street who danced in many segments including "Feel the Beat." They were used to teach various forms of dance, from hip-hop to ballet to square dancing. Kevin Clash performed Baby Tooth. They started appearing around 1991 and last appeared in new segments in 1997.

Feel tha Beat

Get yo body buzy!

Get The Funky Rhythm

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Puppets in NYC

There is a PIP puppet building workshop coming up this weekend. In preparation, I've been thinking about puppets around the US and looking for NEWS about them. I found a couple of interesting articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Here they are.

Pulling Strings in Central Park | JANUARY 18, 2011

Nurture, After Nature Turns Ugly | November 6, 2010
Inside a Halloween Puppet Workshop | SLIDESHOW

The Puppet Kitchen's Recipe for Success | JULY 23, 2010

Opera About a Giant’s Life, Complete With Giant Puppets | April 11, 2008