What: Beyond the Sock — A four-day workshop that will teach University of North
Texas students and others to create puppets similar to those used on
“Sesame Street,” “The Muppet Show” and other television programs and
films, and to develop a puppet character using vocal and hand techniques.
When: May 29-June 1 (Wednesday-Saturday)
Where: UNT campus
Cost: $350 for UNT students, $650 for alumni of UNT’s Department of Dance
and Theatre and Department of Radio, Television and Film, and $1,200
for others. Registration is limited to 32 participants.
Contact: James Martin, workshop coordinator and UNT senior lecturer, at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration forms are available at
DENTON (UNT), Texas — University of North Texas students and others will learn how to create the next Cookie Monster or Kermit the Frog from master puppeteers from “Sesame Street” and “The Muppets” when they attend Beyond the Sock, a four-day workshop at UNT May 29-June 1 (Wednesday-Saturday).
The workshop will teach aspiring puppeteers about materials and assembly methods to create hand and rod puppets, develop character concepts and use vocal techniques and hand motions to give convincing performances of the puppets. Coordinated by faculty members in the UNT Department of Dance and Theatre and the Department of Radio, Television and Film, the workshop will be led by puppet performers Noel MacNeal, who portrayed Bear in Disney’s “Bear in the Big Blue House” and several “Sesame Street” characters, and Peter Linz, who was Walter in 2011’s “The Muppets” and will reprise the character next year in “The Muppets…Again!”
MacNeal and Linz will be joined by designer Pasha Romanowski, founder and owner of Project Puppet, which provides basic patterns as starting points for beginning puppet builders, and Puppetsmith.com, which offers tutorials on advanced techniques for building puppets. Romanowski’s puppet creations have featured on television and website programs in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S
Puppets have been the primary casts of “Sesame Street” and other children’s programs for decades. In recent years, they’ve also substituted for human actors on Broadway musicals aimed at adults, like “Avenue Q,” in Hollywood films, like 2011’s “The Muppets,” and on episodes of adult-audience sitcoms such as “Community” and “30 Rock.”
James Martin, senior lecturer in the Department of Radio, Television and Film, is coordinating the workshop with Mario Tooch, senior lecturer and technical director in the Department of Dance and Theatre, and Adam Chamberlin, an assistant professor in the department who teaches sound and lighting courses. Martin said Beyond the Sock is an extension of both his television and film production courses and his own creative research. He is currently developing an Internet series that will feature puppets.
One of the goals of the workshop, he said, is to give UNT students “ideas about styles of visual production beyond news and sports.”
“I want the students to understand what goes on behind the scenes of the production, from the equipment, design and construction to the acting, and how all of that has to be focused on how the puppet is perceived, since the audience doesn’t actually see the performer,” Martin said. The training the workshop participants will receive, he said, “is usually only available to those who have been cast in a major production.”
The workshop will end with the participants receiving experience in performing before a camera. They will be divided into pairs to do skits with their puppets, and will receive free DVDs of their performances.