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The Best Puppet Workshops and Classes to Learn Puppetry

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

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.

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 someone I know.

There are online puppet workshops, in-person puppet classes, puppet festivals and intensives, and week-long national and international conferences.

If you can dream it, it probably exists.

You can even get a masters or a Ph.D in puppetry if you are really, really into it or you want to feel super official about it.

I have a couple of online puppetry courses for beginner to advanced puppeteers too! You can find them over here.

You can jump to puppet making classes and workshops here.

Here are my top picks for places to find out about puppetry classes. And if you are looking for some pointers on writing for puppetry, be sure to grab this fancy cheat sheet I made for you.

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.

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

The O’Neill National Puppetry Conference

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.

The Chicago International Puppetry Festival

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.

University of Connecticut

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.

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

Beyond the Sock

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.

Sandglass Theatre Puppet Intensive

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

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 on How to Make Puppets

There are a few great resources on puppet making and building in all of it's different styles. You'll find some puppet making courses mixed in with the above resources, but here are some that are specific on how to make puppets.

Stan Winston School

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

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.

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

If you're looking for the latest info on workshops and opportunities in the land of puppetry, be sure to subscribe and check out my free cheat sheet on writing for puppetry.

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