June 20, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Muppeteer Launches Puppetry School

Teacher and Muppeteer Michael EarlFour-time Emmy Award-winning puppeteer, Michael Earl (formerly Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street), has been teaching on and off for 23 years. For the past three, he has been growing his teaching into a business. Now he has partnered with friend and Los Angeles filmmaker/entrepreneur Roberto Ferreira who together are launching Puppet School – Where imagination and creativity meet.

Mr. Earl has been teaching his Muppet-style, on-camera puppetry classes at On Your Mark Studios in Sherman Oaks, CA. For now, this is where he will continue to teach his Beginning and Intermediate courses. And for the first time, Earl is very excited to announce that he will be teaching an Advanced class as well.

In January of this year, Michael Earl taught a one-day TV Puppetry Workshop at Actor’s Connection in New York City. Workshop students and their furry friends The response was so great that he taught a second class in March. Due to popular demand, he will be returning to New York to teach the class again on October 1, 2010, as well as a Level 2 to those who previously took the beginners class. He will also be teaching in Seattle on August 1st at the Puppeteers of America Northwest Regional Festival (www.puppet-o-rama.org).

So how did this puppetry journey begin for Michael Earl?

“I knew since I was five, seeing my first puppet show at a San Francisco street fair, that I wanted to be a professional puppeteer,†says Earl. “Growing up I read books on puppetry, attended conferences, apprenticed at Children’s Fairyland in Oakland, CA, practiced and constantly performed—and at 19 was hired to replace the original Mr. Snuffleupagus (Jerry Nelson) on Sesame Street.â€

Soon he noticed how many new muppeteers would come and go due to lack of training. Earl met with Jim Henson privately to discuss the possibility of creating a teaching course to develop new muppeteers. Jim thought the idea was a good one, but was concerned there was not enough work at that time for those who already knew how. So Henson encouraged Earl to teach on his own, and said he’d visit his classes. Earl asked him not to, so as not to intimidate young puppeteers. They agreed if Earl found anyone of real talent that he would refer them to Henson.

Until now, Earl’s classes have been taught to professional puppeteers and to actors looking to add a new skill set. “Now we have plans to expand the Puppet School into a fun place where the general public can come and learn to act, improv, create a puppet and join our Web series,†says Earl. For more information, go to www.puppetschool.com.

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