Puppet Palooza last October and wondered (dreamed) if it’d be possible to work with John Tartaglia. John has been a performer in a number of Broadway and children’s television productions. Most notably, he played Princeton and Rod in Avenue Q and hosted his own program, Johnny and the Sprites, on Playhouse Disney. This is a clip from one of my favorite pieces of his work:
Before arriving at his studio for my lesson, I thought about what I really wanted to learn. I thought about my Monday night puppet sessions with Sabrina and Audrey in Massachusetts. I had so much fun working with them and bringing Cassie to life, but I never felt confident in giving Cassie a voice. This became my ultimate goal for my lesson.
At 12pm sharp, John opened the door to his studio for me. His workspace is a dream! It’s filled with shelves of puppet creations and building materials, posters from his production Imaginocean, and large windows for fantastic natural light. He sat with me, and we really had an opportunity to discuss goals, tricks of the trade, and who this Cassie lady really is….seriously, we talked A LOT about Cassie. Approximately an hour into the lesson, I had an Ah-Ha moment (is it necessary to credit Oprah when this phrase is used?). By simply removing myself from a mirror when working with Cassie, I was able to let go and let the character come to life. I literally had to get myself out of my own way….or out of her way.
I was so excited to meet someone who genuinely loves what he’s doing and yearns to share his craft with others. John was incredibly supportive and thoughtful in his instruction and feedback. He provided me with some great resources to look at and ideas for practicing at home. It wasn't until I was reviewing an exercise this evening that I realized, "Oh my God. I sang the ABCs with John Tartaglia and freakin' Cassie!"
This is an unbelievable start to 2012, and it’s inspired me to continue to move forward, have fun, and trust my instincts more. Perhaps the greatest piece of advice John shared with me was to surround myself with people who are joyful and joy-makers. Sometimes that can be pretty hard to do in New York, but I'm up for the challange.
Find out more about John and his amazing work here www.JohnTartagliaPuppetry.com!