Tennessee Artist is President of the Puppeteers of America

By Puppeteers of America –

Bunraku characters from Wood & Strings Theatre production, “Out of the Mist…a Dragon” Photo by Asha Fuller
Bunraku characters from Wood & Strings Theatre production, “Out of the Mist…a Dragon”
Photo by Asha Fuller

Clarissa Lega, a 30-year member of the TN Arts Commission roster of artists has just been elected as President to the Puppeteers of America (PofA). PofA is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1937 to provide information, encourage performances, and build a community of people who celebrate puppet theatre. Lega, as the producer to Wood & Strings Theatre, has been the artistic and managing director of live main-stage theatre productions that feature the use of articulated characters. Wood & Strings performances have seen over 2,000,000 audience members over the 35 years touring the country. National Geographic Live in Washington, DC, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and Tribeca Performing Art Center in New York City have presented their productions, employing four puppeteers. The company has also performed across the state of Tennessee in venues including performing art centers, museums, libraries, and schools. Along with Lega, Leon Fuller forms the design team that produces the Wood & Strings Theatre puppets. This aspect of their company is Artistree, Inc. Artistee, Inc. has designed, built and restored puppets for DreamWorks, Dollywood, Kaiser Permanente, and the Nashville Ballet.

Puppeteers of America has produced over 160 national and regional festivals to celebrate and share the art of puppetry. These festivals bring people interested in puppetry from across the country. Puppeteers of America is proud that so many greats in the field like Jim Henson, Bil Baird, and Burr Tillstrom were active members providing leadership, advice and inspiration. In addition to these recognizable puppetry personages that held the position of President to the PofA, another very notable Nashville artist, Brian Hull, director of Wishing Chair Productions at the Nashville Public Library, has also held the position. The downtown library serves over 8000 audience members a month with their puppetry program. For this and their dedication to puppetry, the Library just received the PofA award in Excellence. The Nashville Library has also commissioned the design and construction of five of their rotating shows from Lega’s company.

Tennessee has a host of remarkable puppet performers and builders. Phillip Huber, a world-renowned marionette artist, is known for his work on films such as “Being John Malkovich and “Oz The Great & Powerful”, resides in Cookeville. Ed May, who also sits on the Board of Directors for PofA has been a puppeteer for the Muppets, has toured internationally with “Walking with Dinosaurs” that performed with their 60-foot puppets at the Arena in Nashville. He is from Waverly. All these and more form the Tennessee Puppet Guild, which meets quarterly in Nashville.

Puppetry combines all art disciplines, fusing the visual arts with the performing arts. Nashville is also the host of among the largest puppet building companies, ANIMAX. They employ fabricators, computer specialists, and mechanical engineers to build figures that will be seen around the world in amusement parks and more.

See more of Clarissa Lega’s work on Artistree’s web site.

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