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A Guide to Puppetry Workshops and Puppet Making Courses

puppet workshops, puppet classes, learn puppetry, jim henson
Richard Hunt, Jim Henson, Frank Oz

If you're new to puppetry you might be hungry to learn more about the art form and how to become a puppeteer.

I'll share with you the puppet workshops, online puppetry courses and puppet schools that I know about and can recommend based on my own experience or people I know.

Here's the TL;DR / Choose your own adventure!

learn puppetry, puppetry basics, o'neill puppetry conference
the O'Neill Puppetry Conference. Photo by Richard Termine.

The O’Neill Puppetry Conference is a week-long conference that is all about puppetry.

It is an understatement to call it an intensive. I have been to the O'Neill twice and it is intense. The O’Neill offers many different tracks, including marionette building and performance, writing for puppetry, puppetry in performance, and oh so many more.

The instructors are world-class and I can’t recommend it enough. It blew the world of puppetry open for me in the best way. The campus is also beautiful.

It happens every summer at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, and tuition includes room & board. Many scholarships are available.

UConn is the only university in the United States that offers Bachelor and Masters of Arts in Puppetry.

They also house the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry which hosts tours, workshops and events.

The Jim Henson Foundation

The Jim Henson Foundation keeps an updated list of puppetry classes happening both online and in-person in the US, so it's a great place to start!

You can also sign up for their email list Puppet Happenings to get updates on who is performing and where.

Puppeteers of America

You can check Puppeteers of America to see if you have a local puppetry guild that might offer workshops. If your area doesn't have a guild of its own, you can still join most of the guilds!

Many of the guilds hold workshops via Zoom.

The strongest local US puppetry guilds in my opinion are the LA Guild of Puppetry (why yes, I am a biased LA local) and the Puppetry Guild of Greater NY. San Francisco also has a very strong guild.

Puppeteers of America also heads up the National Puppetry Festival every other year, which is chock full of workshops and shows.

The Puppet Slam Network

The Puppet Slam Network is headed by Heather Henson, youngest daughter of Muppets creator Jim Henson. Heather offers grants to people who run puppet slams, which are evenings of short form puppetry acts intended for adult audiences.

You can see if you have a puppet slam in your area by checking the Puppet Slam Network website, and there are lots of events and workshops being shared on the Puppet Slam Network facebook page.

I haven’t attended it myself but I have only heard very good things about this annual festival in Chicago.

They offer online puppetry courses year-round in things like shadow puppetry, glove puppet technique and more.

TV Puppetry & Beyond the Sock

Beyond the Sock TV puppetry workshop, learn puppetry
Beyond the Sock TV puppetry workshop

Beyond the Sock is a puppetry performance intensive that happens at the University of North Texas every summer.

You get to work with puppeteers from Sesame Street to learn TV puppetry performance and construction and building techniques.

A two-week intensive in puppet theater on site at the Sandglass Theatre in Putney, Vermont.

The program, as it says on the website, is for puppeteers, teachers, actors, writers, and anyone that wants to learn the art of the puppet.

What could be more beautiful than summer in Vermont?

Center for Puppetry Arts kermit the frog learn puppetry
Center for Puppetry Arts

The Center for Puppetry Arts is in Atlanta, GA and has an amazing collection of puppets from around the world.

They host live and online workshops that you can check out here.

Puppet Making Workshops

You'll find some puppet making courses mixed in with the above resources, but here are some that are specific on puppet making.

Bernd Ogrodnik's World of Puppets

These world class wooden puppet making classes are online with Icelandic puppet master Bernd Ogrodnik. I've only heard great things about the courses and intensives.

Puppet Soup

Puppet Soup has an extensive list of puppetry workshops in all different styles.

The Stan Winston School of Character Arts offers a good number of really interesting looking classes. Many of them revolve around creature effects and there are some more basic puppet making classes on there too.

Project Puppet

Project Puppet has some really great puppet patterns in addition to selling supplies and simple tutorials on puppet making. I have used the "glorified sock puppet" pattern many times and can recommend it!

Puppet Nerd is a YouTube channel with a ton of really useful puppet making videos for hand puppetry. Adam Kreutlinger is a great resource in the puppet making world!

If you're new to puppetry I'm going to guess that you came to it from Jim Henson's work, or maybe from seeing marionettes.

Writing for Puppetry & Intro to Puppetry

These are online courses by yours truly! Intro to Puppetry is a complete intro course for beginner puppeteers, and Writing for Puppetry is the only course on puppet writing in the entire solar system! Check them out.

I also teach a few times a year with Celebration Barn.

This list will continue to grow and don't hesitate to contact me if I should add something!

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