UConn master puppeteer earns major international honor


STORRS, CT — The University of Connecticut meter puppeteer has received major international recognition that puts his creations on par with the likes of The Muppets.

UConn officials announced Monday that the leading international puppetry organization has recognized Bart Roccoberton Jr., head of UConn’s renowned puppetry arts program, for his decades of teaching and promoting puppetry in the world. world.

Roccoberton received special mention as “North American Chancellor of Puppetry Education and Training for the 21st Century” from the American Section of the International Puppetry Union, known as UNIMA, the world puppet organization based in France and affiliated with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. or Unesco.

Roccoberton joins a group of just 12 Special Citation recipients that includes Jim Henson, best known for The Muppets and Sesame Street; and Albrecht Roser, a leading German puppeteer and teacher of puppetry recognized as a pioneer in establishing puppetry as an art form internationally.

The citation states that Roccoberton “served the puppetry field with tireless energy, perseverance, skilled leadership and exquisite craftsmanship…embracing an international outlook with an openness and love for all forms of puppetry…developing new audiences for the puppet.”

The choice of the word chancellor was to show his educational bridge and build the careers of puppeteers in the United States and beyond, said Kathy Foley, chair of the UNIMA-USA board of directors.

“Bart did a lot of international work that put the American puppet in places it hadn’t been before,” Foley said. “The Special Citation category is for individuals who, over a long period, have contributed both artistically, in service, and generally in representation of what American puppetry is about to do around the world.”

Roccoberton first visited China in 1994 as part of a US Information Service cultural tour that eventually led to Chinese puppeteers joining UNIMA and hosting the organization’s international puppet festival in 2012.

“Bart has always had an international perspective on puppetry,” says Andrew Periale, editor of UNIMA’s international Puppetry magazine and former member of Roccoberton’s Pandemonium Puppets troupe. “Bart has had, and continues to have, an impact on the lives and careers of hundreds of aspiring puppeteers.”

Vincent Anthony, founder of the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and secretary general of UNIMA-USA, “Bart was the guide of our scholarship program. It was very decisive in allowing the puppeteers to acquire the indispensable knowledge of the best teachers for He single-handedly recruited the Chinese puppeteers to join them as a group, creating the Chinese UNIMA Center.This opened a gateway to Asian countries to join UNIMA.

UConn is the only university in the United States to offer a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, MA or MFA, in puppetry. Alumni of the Puppetry Arts program build and manage internationally acclaimed television programs and films, write books, design toys, teach children, and run leading schools and museums.

They also worked in television and stage productions such as “Sesame Street” and “Crash and Bernstein” and “Lion King” and “Avenue Q”, and “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Frozen on Ice”.

In 2016, UConn puppeteers created six original works and built 40 puppets to perform with the Boston Pops Orchestra, featuring a puppet by legendary bandleader Arthur Fiedler.


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