Puppet Festival Set to Pull at City’s Heartstrings

Release Date: December 27,2017

Give a hand for PuppetPalooza, March 1-4 in Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara puppet Snook the Eco Sloth meets a fan.
Santa Barbara puppet Snook the Eco Sloth meets a fan. (Santa Barbara International PuppetPalooza)

This spring, puppets of every kind will take over the city at the 1st Annual Santa Barbara International PuppetPalooza, March 1-4. Tickets for PuppetPalooza go on sale Jan. 1.

The festival will feature more than 20 performances and events, and some 30 puppeteers and artists from around the globe, demonstrating a variety of styles and practices.

“PuppetPalooza will showcase outstanding performances of all genres of puppetry,” said Mitchell Kriegman, founder of the Santa Barbara International PuppetPalooza.

“With performances that speak to all ages, and offered throughout the entire town, there truly is something for everyone to enjoy from puppets you’ve seen on television to puppets you didn’t know existed," he said.

"We look forward to welcoming those near and far to PuppetPalooza for a one-of-a-kind festival, right here in Santa Barbara,” he said.

From giant puppets and toy puppets to hand puppets, shadow puppets and micro puppets, Santa Barbara’s inaugural PuppetPalooza festival will celebrate and share the art of puppetry with locals and visitors alike.

The first-of-its-kind festival on the West Coast, PuppetPalooza is made possible by support from the following:

The Squire Foundation, Santa Barbara County Office of Arts and Culture, Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation, Santa Barbara Foundation, Anne Towbes, MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, and ParentClick.

“The Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture is pleased to offer our support for a puppetry festival in Santa Barbara,” said Sarah York Rubin, executive director of Santa Barbara County Office of Arts & Culture.

"We believe strongly in the ethos of this project and that it will be beneficial for local cultural practitioners, residents and tourists and well as the arts economy,” she said.

Performers include:

» World-renowned puppeteer Phillip Huber (of Being John Malkovich film fame), who brings his Huber Marionettes to the festival. Huber brings these characters to life seemingly beyond the usual ability of marionettes, creating riveting performances.

» Manuel Morán, a major force in puppet theater, is known for his bilingual performances. A native of Puerto Rico, Morán is an actor, director, producer and puppeteer.

Morán enjoys offering entertainment with cultural value and educational quality through all of his performances.

» Breakout puppeteer Tarish “Jeghetto" Pipkins will also join the festival. Pipkins' puppets are intricate and complex, but they move in both a realistic and graceful way to create works of art.

Most recently, Pipkins worked with national recording artist Missy Elliott on her music video, WTF (Where They From), as well performing on the Amazon Echo commercial featuring Elliott and Alec Baldwin as puppets.

» Local puppeteer Snook the Eco Sloth, star of the PBS KIDS children's program It's a Big World, is on the PuppetPalooza roster as well. He has appeared at CEC’s Earth Day two years in a row and at area schools.

Snook will be performed by Peter Linz of Muppets and Sesame Street fame.

As part of its mission to offer performances for everyone, PuppetPalooza will feature an autistic-friendly performance for children and adults with different minds, living in a world of neuro-diversity.

In cooperation with the Autism Theater Initiative, this show will be performed in a friendly, supportive environment for families and friends with children or adults who are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other sensitivity issues.

Adults can enjoy late night after hours adults only performances.

Puppet performances will take place across town, from the Marjorie Luke Theatre, SBCAST and CAW to Alameda Park including a Block Party off State Street, in partnership with the downtown Santa Barbara.

And, there will be pop-up puppet stages on State Street throughout the festival.

PuppetPalooza also invites the community to visit Pop-Up Puppets in Paseo, its pop-up Puppet Theatre and Museum and ticket center, sponsored by Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants.

The pop-up site will open in early January, and will host performances, movie screenings, puppets on display by local artists,  and coming attractions through the festival in March.

Coinciding with PuppetPalooza — and bringing even more puppeteers and performers to town — the Puppetters of America, the country’s largest professional puppeteering organization, will hold its regional festival, the Pacific Southwest Puppet Fest 2018, in Santa Barbara.

PuppetPalooza will host workshops for kids in partnership with MOXI, the Santa Barbara Public Library, and other venues to be announced throughout Santa Barbara County.

“PuppetPalooza brings a vibrant, new, visual, theatrical celebration to Santa Barbara," said Santa Barbara writer/director Rod Lathim. "I am so pleased to be a donor and volunteer to assist in making this magical dream a reality.

"Puppetry inspired me to pursue performing arts as a child, and this festival will celebrate the creative child in us all.”

The Santa Barbara International PuppetPalooza was created by Kriegman, who was inspired by his love for Santa Barbara and its tradition of festivals.

“Santa Barbara is such a family friendly city, but there were no family-centric festivals and I thought Santa Barbara families deserved one," he said.

"What could be better than a puppet festival for families and kids of every age, and that includes everyone?" he said.

Kriegman is a developer of children and family television series on Nickelodeon, Disney and PBS. He is the creator of Bear in the Big Blue House, Book of Pooh, It’s a Big Big World, and Elmo in Grouchland.

Kriegman created the groundbreaking Clarissa Explains It All and was the story editor on Rugrats, Ren and Stimpy, Doug and Rocko’s Modern Life.

He is the winner of three Emmy Awards, the Director’s Guild Award and an American Film Institute Fellowship, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.

For more information, visit puppetpaloozasb.com.

— Jennifer Zacharias for Santa Barbara International PuppetPalooza.

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