Developmental residencies were the core of La MaMa’s 59th Season. Resident artists explored how new works were created, performed, and experienced during a pandemic. This edition of Jump Start invites our five 59th Season puppet resident artists (a program funded in part by The Jim Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson) to showcase a live presentation of their works-in-progress.
Growing Not Dying
Created and performed by Leah Ogawa
Growing Not Dying is a solo puppetry show exploring the concept of time, death, and transformation in one's life through fragmented body parts with direct manipulation and string puppetry. It touches upon the growth and layers of molting that occur throughout life. This presentation will be an excerpt and exploration from this story which will have a live work-in-progress presentation at La MaMa in October 2021.
Charlotte Lily Gaspard invites you into a fantastical galaxy of shadow puppets, whimsy, and dreams, in her upcoming project, Mia M.I.A.; an urban fairytale for adults. The play centers around an ordinary couple, who happen to be married women of color, as they navigate lives on earth. Yet as our story unfolds, they are drawn into an enchanted realm of silhouettes, puppets, and dance, much like Alice through the looking glass. From the creators of The Enchanted Revolution, a magical lo-fi space pop opera. Artists from Ms. Gaspard’s collective, Midnight Radio Show, are collaborating in the creation of Mia M.I.A. This project will have a live work-in-progress presentation at La MaMa in October 2021.
The Autobipuppetry of Jeghetto
Concept and visual design by Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins
A puppet performance by puppet artist Tarish "Jeghetto" Pipkins. Enter the world of Jeghetto as he shares stories from his life journey that led up to his current career in puppetry. Join him in this meta experience as he tells these stories through a miniature puppet version of himself. This production gives you a glimpse of this puppeteer’s process with visual projections, spoken word, and hip-hop beats.
Created by Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra
This presentation will be an excerpt of the interdisciplinary music performance project, Lady Xøk. The project combines stop motion animations, shadow experiments, and prayer tie exoskeleton.
Sounding the Resonant Path
Puppetry and design by Tom Lee
Music by Ralph Samuelson, Perry Yung, Tatsu Aoki, and Kioto Aoki
Moving panorama scrolls by Blair Thomas
This presentation will be an excerpt of Sounding the Resonant Path, a performance installation that draws on the spiritual connection between the human world and the natural environment. We witness an artist, seeking the unknowable, encounter the growing bamboo and tree, whose harvested material is crafted into the artistry of the flute and the puppet. Japanese kuruma ningyō style puppetry and multiple, illuminated shadow scrolls play out this wordless tale to the accompaniment of taiko drums, shamisen, and shakuhachi flute.
Leah Ogawa is a mixed-race artist, puppeteer, dramatist, self-detective, and model based in New York City. Raised in Yamanashi, Japan, Leah has worked with puppeteers, artists, and companies including The Metropolitan Opera, Phantom Limb, Dan Hurlin, Tom Lee, Nami Yamamoto, Loco 7, and others. She has performed across the U.S. as well as at the Quai Branly in Paris and across Asia. Leah is a recipient of the Jim Henson Foundation’s workshop grant for her original piece, Growing Not Dying. She is working on Growing Not Dying for her La MaMa residency.
“Part celestial creature, part sophisticated human” is how Charlotte Lily Gaspard has been described by Faerie Magazine when contemplating the ethereal artist and her work in one of their features. Shadow puppet artist, educator, and children’s entertainer, Charlotte’s mission is to activate imaginations and celebrate playfulness wherever she goes. A “multi-faceted enchantress...the fanciful mastermind behind Midnight Radio Show” (Broadway World), Charlotte is the founder and artistic director of Midnight Radio Show, a shadow puppet sci-fi fairytale theater company based in Brooklyn, NY. She designs puppets for theater and film, including A Snowy Day & Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats.
Tarish Pipkins a.k.a. Jeghetto, was born in a small steel mill town called Clairton, PA, located south of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a self-taught artist and has been creating art from a very young age. As a teenager, he moved to the East Side of Pittsburgh and graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School. In the late '90s, Tarish joined the BridgeSpotters Collective and became known for his live paintings and poetry. He was also a barber for over 20 years. He moved to North Carolina in 2005, where he launched his career in puppetry. There, he fine-tuned his skills by doing street performances with his puppets. In 2008, he started working with Paperhand Puppet Intervention. He has built puppets and performed in several Paperhand productions. Most recently, Jeghetto had the pleasure to work with national recording artist Missy Elliott on her music video, WTF (Where They From) controlling the Pharell puppet and doing some puppet building. He also worked on the Amazon Echo commercial featuring Missy Elliott and Alec Baldwin as puppets. Tarish is a former teacher at Just Right Academy, a private alternative school for children with special needs. Tarish is married and a proud father of five children. Jeghetto’s passion is promoting oneness through the magic of puppetry.
Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra a.k.a.Lady Xøk (Maya-Lenca tribal citizen) is a Twin Cities-based anti-disciplinary artist, musician, and culture bearer whose work is rooted in Indigenous Futurisms. Lady Xøk creates body-immersive installations of light, shadow, and music for interdisciplinary experimental storytelling mixing dance, songwriting, and electric and Mesoamerican instruments. Her ongoing experimental installation performances have been developed in part by Redeye Theatre, New Native Theatre, Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, Catalyst Arts, ArtShanty, and her current residency with New York-based theatre La MaMa. Rebekah's intergenerational puppet play Star Girl Clan is touring with New Native Theatre with production support from The Jim Henson Foundation. She is a 2021–22 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow.
Tom Lee is a director, designer, and puppet artist based in Chicago and New York. He appeared on Broadway in War Horse, at the Metropolitan Opera in Madama Butterfly, and most recently in The Queen of Spades at Lyric Opera Chicago. His own work includes Shank's Mare (recently on tour in Paris), Tomte (Gnome) presented by La MaMa Kids last fall, and place(no)place at the Pesta Boneka Festival in Indonesia. Tom is co-director of Chicago Puppet Studio and teaches nationally and internationally. He began his career at La MaMa Experimental Theatre.
La MaMa Puppet Festival
The La MaMa Puppet Festival showcases new contemporary puppet theatre by artists from around the world. Curated by Denise Greber, focusing on diversifying the voices, stories, and perspectives shared onstage, with the goal of uplifting marginalized identities within the puppet community.