Festival Slideshow

Here is a slideshow of pics I’ve received from the festival.  To copy any of the pics, I’ve added a “Photos! 300!” page (tab at the top, or click here) so you can select pictures.  More pictures welcome and encouraged.

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Puppet Fest on YOUTUBE

Check out this 3 minutes from the festival on youtube, many thanks to Marc Matney…


Post-Festival News & Requests

Post-Festival News
The Port City Puppet Festival is over. What a fantastic time!  This was a wonderful gathering of incredible people from the Southeast Region and waaaayyyy beyond.
Bravo to our festival staff, partners, sponsors, volunteers, performers, instructors, and participants.
Some post-fest news/requests:
  • Festival Pictures. Please email them to Gina! We want to post them here and on the website for everyone to enjoy.
  • Festival Video. You can order over 1.5 hours of footage from the festival for $20 (includes mailing) or $15 if you are local.  This video was shot & edited by Marc Matney, who filmed various events throughout the festival weekend!  UPDATE: Marc has posted a 3-minute excerpt of the video on YouTube! Email him at MarcMatney@rocketmail.com to purchase the video.
  • Festival Feedback. We really do want your feedback, negative and positive.  We don’t have the technology to know who writes what feedback, so feel free to say whatever you want without repercussion on our amazing Festival Feedback Form.
  • On-going: The CAMERON ART MUSEUM holds the exhibit PuppetArt until January, 2011.  This exhibit features select puppets from Bread & Puppet (Glover, Vermont) and The Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, Georgia).
  • Prepare: The 2011 PoA National Festival is July 12-17 in Atlanta, Georgia.  They are already taking workshop, performance, and film submissions!

Wow! What’d ya think?

From the archives…Sat, 19 Jan 2008
“I want to have a small puppet festival here in Southeastern NC next year.  Is there anyone on this list who wouldn’t mind giving some guidance about making such an event happen?” Gina Puppetcrit

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oh, I don’t know how to begin to thank all the wonderful people and all the incredible organizations that made the Port City Puppet Festival happen.

Wonderful performances, exhibits, workshops, a fantastic parade, a potpourri full of laughs and meatballs, and as promised-a Slam you will never forget.  Support in the form of dollars, space, promotion, goodwill, participation.  So many good things.

STILL, the staff would love to hear your feedback, to know what really worked for you and what good advice to put in the archives as the Southeast Region already looks toward 2012.

We’d also love to get your pictures, please send them in to be posted on the website!  Send pictures to ginagambony@gmail.com

Click Here to Take our Post Festival Survey!


Puppetry in Education & Therapy-PDTAT-INFO!

PDTAT Workshop-UNCW Education Building

Thursday, July 15, 8:30 am -3:30 pm

If you are attending the wonderful workshop on Thursday, which can be found here, please find the building on the Campus Map, which can be found here. The building is called the EDUCATION BUILDING.

The parking lot for this building is actually to the left of the building on Randall Drive; you can find this lot on the campus map as well:  I LOT.  It is on Randall Drive directly before Randall makes the sharp right turn onto Reynolds.  It is on the left of Randall, coming from College Rd. You won’t get a ticket if you park there 🙂 yay.

We are looking forward to a great workshop!

Important Updates for Registrants

The festival is upon us!  Some News You Can Use:

1.  Getting to on-campus check-in. However you get into town, you will want to enter campus on RANDALL DRIVE (see previous post).

Follow Randall; it makes a sharp right turn and becomes REYNOLDS DRIVE.

You will pass a parking deck on the left (don’t park there) and come to a stop sign.  Take a Left here onto CAHILL DRIVE.

Take a Left on WALTON into Seahawk Crossing parking lots. We will be in Seahawk Crossing Building #3! We will have as much signage as possible to help you find us.

2.  Official check-in on Wednesday begins at Noon.  Official check-in on Thursday begins at 1:00 pm. We think we can be flexible if you arrive earlier.  We will have either a person or a sign telling you what to do if you arrive earlier, and what to do if you arrive very late.  Get your license plate number from your car before you make the trek into the building if you haven’t already provided it.


Medication, deodorant, toothpaste/toothbrush, soap/shampoo…

Identification card (driver’s license/state ID)

A great black & white outfit for the BOZO ARTS RAMPAGE SLAM event on Saturday night.  If you don’t have anything, we’ll have some black & white trash bags for you to make something

Something to donate to the TRAFFLE!

A show to perform for POTPOURRI!

Lots of cash!

Lightweight clothing & comfortable shoes.


We still have some room for puppet sales.  Please sign up to sell here to help us prepare.

Please comment on this post about items that should be added to this list!


Don’t bring an item to exhibit. Call for exhibit materials is over and we have no venue to exhibit anything else.

Anything illegal or that walks on 4+ legs or has wings.

Wool sweaters.

5.  Getting around campus. We know that walking long distances might not be on your long list of talents.  We are making arrangements to ensure everyone can get where they need to go easily…stay tuned.

6.  Arrivals by airplane. We cannot take any more airport pick-up requests.  I believe we are picking up everyone who provided their flight information…if you don’t receive confirmation from us by Monday, assume you need to take a cab.  It is a short distance to campus.  Bring the above instructions in case the cabby is not familiar with the campus.

We cannot wait to see you!  Welcome to the Port City!

Directions to the University!

Detailed instructions about check-in is forthcoming.  To get you started on your trip planning, here are directions to the University of NC Wilmington from a few main highways.

If you are coming from the North/West on I-40 click here to get directions from Raleigh I-40 from Raleigh

If you are coming from the West North/West, here are directions from Asheville via US 74 US 74 from Asheville

If you are coming from the South, here are directions from Savannah, GA via  I-95/US-76 95/76 from Savannah

Straight from Atlanta via I-20/I-95/US-76 from Atlanta

Here are direction from Greenville, NC for those traveling from the Northeastern areas using NC-11/US-41/I-40 from Greenville, NC

To get personalized instructions, go to http://www.google.com and click on MAPS.  Then click on DIRECTIONS.  Enter your home address in the top box and then enter the address of the University in the second box:  601 S. College Rd, 28403.  Wherever you are coming from, you will want to enter the University on RANDALL DRIVE.  Further details about where to park are forthcoming.

If you are staying at the Baymont Inn and you want to go straight there upon your arrival, the address is 306 S. College Rd, 28403.

In my personal experience with Google Maps, the travel time is about 30 minutes shorter than what they predict for every 2.5 hours .  I think they are assuming travel at about 50 mph.

…As the Puppet Turns…Interview with Artist Michelle Connolly

…As the Puppet Turns… Delving into the lives of the puppeteers (and artists!)… Installment #5:  Artist & Curator of “Puppet Parlour” Exhibit, Michelle Connolly interviewed by Gina Gambony

I met Michelle Connolly a year and a half ago when we were both selling our wares at the local Art for the Masses event.  When I had a break, I wandered around checking out all the GREAT ART-and I was immediately drawn to Michelle and her work.  I think I bought my first Connolly piece that very day.   When I started gathering local resources for the festival last year, I knew Michelle needed to be involved.  Her contribution is fantastic-a juried exhibit of all kinds of art related to puppetry:  Puppet Parlour at ACME Art Studios.

GG: Gooood evening Michelle!

MC:  Goooood Evening Gina! Excited to be here with you!

GG:  Tell me how you came to Wilmington, you are originally from some other English-speaking places?

MC:  We-me, my husband Steve, and our boys, Aidan and Rory- moved to Wilmington in April 2007 with a secondment for Steve at GE. we were meant to be here 2 years but its been extended …Steve and I are originally from England, we moved to Sydney from UK with my software job, I was an Oracle consultant. Both our boys are Australian born .. so we moved here from Sydney Australia. We are all Australian Citizens ..funny both boys now have American southern accents.

GG:  That’s very funny, I hope to meet your boys sometime. I bet they have very…interesting accents with all the combination of things!

MC:  Yes they are a lot of fun you’d like them .. Aidan is a born performer!

GG:  Were you making art in Australia before you came to Wilmington?

MC:   I did art in Sydney but have been working as full time artist since moving here and having my studio at ACME.

GG:  Has the Wilmington art scene helped your art blossom? Because you are so incredibly prolific!

MC:  I love being here in Wilmington, so many creative people here, I have met so many great artists and musicians who have inspired me, encouraged me and supported me. I do produce a lot of work, it’s the way I like to work on many pieces at a time, to keep the spontaneity, I am an ideas person and so the ideas are always flowing.  It’s hard for me to slow down.

GG:  You have been a great addition to our arts scene. I really love the energy in your work, it’s like you don’t have the “inner critic” stopping you, you just pour it out!

MC:  ACME has been a blessing to me, given me a place to work and a good art community to relate to, I love working there.  I like being bold and daring and trying new things.  You too have inspired me with this Puppet thing, I have puppets running through my mind now!

GG: I contacted you early in the festival process because of your energy and ideas, and the content and themes of your work just fit so well with the puppet festival. I know you will have some puppets jumping out from your brain and fingertips.

MC:  Yes, I do like characters and performance, comedy and theatre. These come into my work a lot … I wanted to be a Clown when I was kid!

There has been a brilliant response to the Puppets Parlour show at ACME, lots of artists are now sending in their work. It’s great to see that energy grow, it all started from that meeting last year, thanks for sparking it off with us all!

GG:  The idea for the ACME exhibit is so fantastic, to include the theme of puppetry into all forms of art, to bring in artists of all ilks to the creative expression of puppetry!

MC:  It’s been really magical to see the interest grow. Thanks to the WHQR radio interview, we have submissions coming in from all over now.

GG:  Tell me details about the exhibit.

MC:  The exhibit will be selected from the submissions received by June 16, 2010.  Fritzi Huber and Michael Van Hout will help review the body of work.  The criteria is that the work fits in the space and is related to the world of puppets.

The exhibition will be held at ACME (711 Nth 5th Ave Wilmington NC 28401).

Opening reception: Saturday, 10 July 6:00-9:00 pm, with live music, live performance, projected film, and artwork, of course.

Michael and ACME volunteers will hang the show, so work has to be ready to display, wired etc, and, if necessary, with instructions on hanging.

GG:  Any ideas for submissions you have heard that you’d like to share?

MC:  David Hervey from Cosmic Groove Lizards has submitted some brilliant Rock Star Puppets-they are wonderful.  We had a call from a man in Burgaw whose sons work for Bread & Puppet and he wants them to show some of their work.  He says his house is full of puppetabilia.

GG:  Oh wow, I know those boys! I worked with them when Bread & Puppet was here in 2008. Fantastic.

MC:   Yes, Ross the Dad said he knew you and Fritzi, he heard me on the radio and was very excited!

GG: We really wanted to get Bread & Puppet here to perform for the festival, but July is a very busy time for them.  [But-Cameron Art Museum is exhibiting selected works from Bread & Puppet as part of their “PuppetArt” exhibition, opening on July 15.]

MC:  Sounds like these guys have a lot of things at their Dad’s house that would be great as part of the group show.

Then we have other entries, some great paintings of puppets, some collaborative works underway by Photographers and Artists, etc.

GG:  Aside from the Opening on July 10, ACME will be open for visitors on Saturday, July 17 as well, for the festival?

MC: Yes, ACME will be open to the public on Saturday, July 17 from 11:00am-2:00pm, and again for the locals who missed the openings on our 4th Friday gallery night Friday, July 23, 6:00-9:00 pm so we have 3 openings .. not bad eh?!

GG:  Excellent! Now I don’t mean to pry…but…I just KNOW you are or will be doing something for this exhibit. I’m curious…

MC:  Mmmmm .. yep several works underway.  Can never work on just the one…small puppet creations inspired by found objects, shells, broken brushes, scraps found around my messy studio. I am creating Puppet characters, they are multiplying over time.

I am not sure where it will take me as I love to paint and draw and may end up using these chaps as still life props for my final work, but enjoying playing with them at the moment.  Endless ideas … ahhhhhh.

GG:  Just keep them flowing!

All you artists out there inspired by this project, submit pictures via email to marsconnolly@gmail.com by June 16!

…As the Puppet Turns…Interview with Eric Bass of Sandglass Theater

…As the Puppet Turns… Delving into the lives of the puppeteers… Installment #4:  Co-Founder and Performer of Sandglass Theater, Eric Bass interviewed by Drew Allison

Sandglass Theater is an award-winning company located for the past 20 years in Vermont.  Their work has received 6 UNIMA Citations of Excellence, various theatrical awards, and honors from Germany, Australia, and Hungary.  Eric Bass will be performing a piece they created 30 years ago, “Autumn Portraits.”

If you are unfamiliar with their work, Sandglass Theater may garner your interest in 2 simple ways:  the lovely photos of their work, and their elegant artistic statement: In the microcosm of theater, the puppet is a means of integrating, of pulling back together pieces torn apart from each other. The puppet is the embodiment of a world no longer ours, an abstraction of a memory, a dream which is recalled. It is other than us, but it lives through us. We grasp it, and in grasping it, it takes hold of us. In dancing with the puppet, we are dancing with our more secret side. We are integrating parts of ourselves. -Sandglass Theater

DA:  Eric, everyone on the Port City Puppet Fest staff is excited about you coming. You refer to Autumn Portraits as a “classic.” Tell us a bit about the show, the process of putting it together, etc.

EB:  I made Autumn Portraits in 1980. I was just coming off five years at The Theater of the Open Eye in New York, a theater ensemble of actors, dancers, musicians and puppeteers. I felt that I needed to make a solo show. It was inspired by that strange meeting point of classical Japanese puppetry and American Vaudeville.

DA:  I am sure that you’ve performed the piece countless times. What are some of the most memorable performances of Autumn Portraits that you recall?

EB:  In 1983 I toured in Australia for 6 weeks. Just about every performance was memorable, although not all of them for “good” reasons.

Perhaps the most interesting was one in northeastern Australia where I found myself in a seacoast town with a big prejudice against punks. I have a section of the show where I bring people up onstage with one of the puppets. I brought up a young woman with a green mohawk haircut. After the show, a woman from the audience told my tour manager that she had always hated punks but now, because of the show that evening, she discovered that they could be funny and nice, just like real people.

DA: Wow. Can you tell us a bit about Sandglass Theatre? Origins, goals, mantras, etc?

EB:  Sandglass started in Germany in 1982. I had moved there to live with Ines [Eric’s wife] and we started working together. We needed a name so that we could register as a company. Tax issue.  The hourglass was an image in both Autumn Portraits and in Sand, the show that Ines and I were working on. We liked the image but we didn’t like the word. It’s a cumbersome word, and besides, an hour is an arbitrary amount of time, isn’t it? Hourglass in German is a sanduhr, a sand clock. So we combined the languages and came up with Sandglass. Years later, I discovered it was not our invention. I found out that there had been a theater society in the 1940s (I think) call “Sandglass.”

DA: Will Ines be coming with you to Wilmington in July?

EB:  She will. We often tour together with Autumn Portraits and her solo for children, Isidor’s Cheek. We run the lights for each others shows.

DA: I believe you said you will be at UConn prior to the Port City Puppet Festival. Will you all be teaching? What’s happening there?

EB:  Ines and I and Dave Regan teach a 3-week intensive training workshop most summers. It is training in manipulation, in connecting the breath to the puppet, and also in composition. It also trains in developing a relationship between the materials of the puppet and the metaphor that creates.

DA: Ok, here’s another lofty, conceptual question to try and stomach first thing in the morning. Personally, I am excited about the current state of puppetry in this country. It seems elevated, fresh and re-birthed. I wonder what your thoughts are on the current state of puppetry?

EB:  I don’t get to see enough. That’s one reason why Ines and are happy to be coming to a festival again. We don’t get to see many of the shows we hear about. We are too caught up in our community and sometimes too caught up in our own work. So, things look interesting, but we need to see more. We have been running an international puppet festival up here in Vermont since 1997, bi-annually. This is the first year that we will be presenting some American companies from outside of our area. Blair Thomas is coming, and Paul Mesner, and Larry Hunt.

DA:  You all are doing some exciting things in Vermont. I see where you, Ines and Sandglass were awarded the Governor’s Award. Tell us what that was like.

EB:  We went up to the State House and performed in the House Chamber. The Arts Council wanted to make an event of it. We thought it would be great to celebrate not only Ines and me, but the art of puppetry. So we invited some friends to perform: Crabgrass, Larry Hunt, and Rob Mermin (founder of Circus Smirkus) with his “puppets” made of soap bubbles.

The high point was the governor’s escorted entrance to the podium. He was escorted by tow of our camels from Between Sand and Stars. During his speech, they read over his shoulder, chewed their hooves, and spit at the audience. He took it well, though.

DA:  Hilarious! Is there anything else you would like to add, or let folks coming to the festival know about?

EB:  Just that inspiration can come from anywhere. In Autumn Portraits, one piece was inspired by music, one by image, one by a game, one by a dialogue. So there’s that and — oh yes, we are getting older.

DA:  Yes, this age thing rolls along. But life is good! Thanks so much for your time, Eric.

EB:  Thanks for the chat.  Hasta la vista.

Got Puppets?

We are looking for more puppets to display in downtown Wilmington shop windows beginning in mid-June!

The desire for puppets in the windows is bigger than I expected–the downtown stores WANT YOUR PUPPETS!  Some want big puppets, some small, some freaky, some elegant…all kinds of stores…I believe we can gather enough puppets to satisfy them all.

To get your puppet involved, you just mail it to me, with a stand if applicable, and we hook it up with the right business on Front Street downtown (this is the street where we will have the procession on Saturday, July 17).   I’ll ask you a few questions to put on the identifying card (so people will know where the puppet came from).  Then you can pick up the puppet at the festival (or designate a contact to pick it up if you can’t make it).

This is a great way to support the festivities, folks, and raise the level of puppet consciousness in Wilmington…so let me know.  Got Puppets?  We need ’em!

See more about our festival exhibits here.

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