A national touring production of A Christmas Carol by PerSeverance Productions, directed by Scott Severance. Set by Matt Kizer.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a giant backpack puppet. Rod puppets were created for the children Ignorance and Want, and a removable mask for the Marley door knocker. Customized versions of Ignorance and Want were also created for Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma. Customized puppets based on these designs are available for purchase / rent.
These giant masks/puppet heads are backpack puppets that are light-weight and durable. Custom built portrait puppets for MIT's Moving Day celebration.
The masks on this page serve as examples of some of the various materials I can utilize including: Foam, thermoform plastic, papier maché, wire, burlap/fabric and leather. For giant puppet heads/masks, see MIT Bobbleheads.
"Shadow theatre sequences provide visual excitement...Benson's puppets are enchanting..."
Playwright / Puppet Designer / Builder / Director of Puppetry
Directed by Margarita Blush. Scenic Design by Geoff Ehrendrich. Costumes by Xiachen Zhou. Lighting by Hayley Kaspar.
Goblin Market was produced by Connecticut Repertory Theater as part of my MFA. I wrote the play based on the poem by Christina Rossetti.
7 Goblin rod puppets, a direct manipulation baby puppet, shadow puppets, masks and reflective puppets. Dreams were depicted through he use of shadows and reflective puppets. Shadow masks were instrumental for transformations of size and character to great effect.
Produced by Come On Over. Directed by Wanda Strukus. Scenic Design by Bryant Cyr. Lighting by Allison Schneider.
This newly devised work existed in two worlds; the simple, rough world of the shepherds and the world of an impending technological singularity. I designed and built the burlap sheep mask to suit the world of the shepherds and a Moravian Star ornament that transformed into a cardinal puppet, utilizing spiritual symbols to bridge the two worlds.
Puppet Designs Nominated for IRNE Award.
Puppet Designer / Asst. Director
" In an ingenious twist, that cobbled-together town is replicated in miniature at a crucial moment that takes place in the second play — it’s a delight to behold, and it ties things together in an unexpected, and surprisingly touching, manner. "
- Kilian Melloy, wbur.org
This show was produced by Underground Railway at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA and was directed by Debra Wise who, along with Scenic Designer David Fichter, conceptualized it to be created entirely with found objects. I designed and built the specific puppets and props shown here and also served as Assistant Director, collaborated on the creation of the set, the devising of the piece and the direction of the performers.
The miniature city was designed to emulate the set, and became the focal point of the final moment of the show. The driftwood swallow puppet was mechanized with flapping wings and was a principle character in The Happy Prince. Each of the puppets were built from objects and/or materials that related to their character and the themes of the show. For example, the seamstress' head is a pincushion fashioned into a face, and the Mathematical Master is made of measuring instruments.
The Little Match Girl was performed by Eliza Fichter, the Happy Prince by David Keohane.
Directed by Jason Slavick, Costumes by Kendra Bell. Puppets designed and fabricated by Penny Benson.
As a collaborator with Liars & Believers' director Jason Slavick, I was instrumental in the development of the devising concept of this show and served as a sounding board and problem solver during the devising process.
Three custodian clown characters use cleaning supplies as found object puppets to create an adventure, characters and the tools they need to achieve their goal: capturing the Yellow Bird. The yellow bird was created with latex gloves, and a giant pirate was created using discarded detergent bottles.
2015 Performers (1st two photos): Jesse Garlick - Blue, Poornima Kirby - Red, Kiki Samko - Green. 2017 Cast(last photo): Jesse Garlick - Blue, Rebecca Lehrhoff - Red, Glen Moore - Green.
The re-mounting of Icarus, by Liars and Believers directed by Jason Slavick, called for a re-imagining of the "Dream Monster." This puppet comes together from assorted pieces in direct view of the audience.
"The bittersweet tale unfolds magically through intimate storytelling, enchanting visual poetry, and explosive cinema graphic effects."
-Amanda Houtari (Executive Dir., Celebration Barn)
“Extremely impressive, creative and smart design choices."
-Sophie Tamas (TIPS Youth Center director)
“…imaginative, magical, and a visual delight.”
-Rachael Garbowski (Programs Director, Waterman’s Community Center)
“This stunning production is unique and evocative, full of beautiful images of The North.”
– Noreen Young, Artistic Director, Puppets Up! (2010)
This show was produced in collaboration with Faye Dupras of Foreign Landscape Productions, and premiered at PuppetsUp! in Altmonte, Ontario, Canada. Directed by Julie Goell, Music by Dave Noyes with costumes by Shima Ushiba.
These puppets demonstrate various types and styles of puppets and techniques that I have in my repertoire. I design and build hand, rod and string (marionettes,) and utilize a wide range of techniques to build them. These include, but are not limited to, carving (wood or foam,) paper sculpture, soft sculpture, felting, fabric manipulation, hollow casting (neoprene, latex, etc.) and papier mache´.
This large scale puppet performance was commissioned to be performed at Music In Motion, in collaboration with the Juventas New Music Ensemble at Club Oberon in Cambridge, MA. The music, by Libby Larsen, and the puppetry were both inspired by the life and work of Georgia O'Keefe. I conceived, designed and directed the piece, and was aided in the devising work by Wanda Strukus and Jeff Bellin, with assistance from Roxanne Morse.
The first image is from For a Nickel I'd do it Again. This is a shadow / dance piece that was conceived and performed in collaboration with choreographer /dancer Wanda Strukus for an event at the Peabody Essex Museum. The story line was inspired by a painting by Thomas Hart Benton which was on exhibit in the museum gallery. The work resulted in a shadow show performed on two overhead projectors with Wanda dancing and interacting with the images on the shadow screen.
The next five images are from dream sequences in Goblin Market. Through the use of shadow masks, adult human figures are transformed into a child and a goblin. A transparency and a mirror puppet were also utilized to create ghostly white images on the screen.
The remaining shadow images are from a filmed shadow sequence I created for a touring production called Three Cats of Venice, directed by Vincent Ernest Siders.
Midnight Zoo was staged at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston, MA. Stage Directed by Roxanna Myhrum, Artistic Direction by Brad Shur. Baby Higgoth performed by Honey Goodenough. Mama Higgoth / Attendant performed by Deniz Khateri and Brenda Ray.
These wings were built to coordinate with the costuming of a LARP character. A cable controls the opening and closing, and body movement controls the flapping action. Lightweight, and supported by a custom made backpack. Dragon Lord costume by InCharacter.com. Lizard Kin mask by Morbidmask.co.uk.
This puppet was built for a children's production of KRIK KRACK at Central Square Theatre, Cambridge, MA. It was operated by the children from a second story scaffold in that production. It is available for rentals and may be modified to be worn as a backpack puppet.