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Introducing Puppetry into the Theatrical Palette - The Experience of Combining Actors with Puppets, presented on-line by Wes Sanders and Debra Wise, co-founders of Underground Railway Theater. Sunday, March 26, 4:00-5:30 Pacific Time.












            Underground Railway Theater’s “The Christopher Columbus Follies”


There are some dimensions of dramatic action that human actors cannot express at all, or not as well as puppets and masks can.  Design elements and music are often as important as the words in a text. Similarly, imagining what puppetry can evoke on the stage can be inspiring for a writer, opening up new possibilities in scale, for example, and in the relationships between human and non-human reality, to name just two areas of exploration.


During this workshop, Wes Sanders and Debra Wise will talk about some of the adventures they have had with devising puppet-and-actor theater-productions over the 30 years their theater company toured nationally, as well as the 12 years that it was in-residence at Central Square Theater. Underground Railway Theater's own puppet-and-actor projects ranged from a shadow-puppet and mask adaptation of “The Tempest” with the Boston Symphony, to a theatrical adaptation of Grace Paley's work in which characters from the author's stories tumbled out of kitchen cupboards, to a play for youth about literacy staged on a set of giant pop-up books and Czech-style marionettes interacting with human actors.  An especially-rich and varied exploration of this relationship was "Alice's Adventures Underground," Debra's adaptation of Lewis Carrol's books, as was URT's adaptation of Stravinsky's "The Soldier's Tale," guest-directed by Irina Nicalescu, a renowned Rumanian director of puppet-and-actor productions in Europe. (In pre-existing stories like “The Soldier's Tale,” the challenges for a playwright are as rich as those of an original script, since successful adaptation always involves a reconceiving of the original––the introduction of puppetry entailing as it does a whole myriad of new formal and imaginative possibilities.)


Debra and Wes will share photos and anecdotes from Underground Railway Theater: Engine of Delight and Social Change, a digital history of the company's first 25 years, and there will be plenty of time for the give-and-take of conversation. See more about URT's work at


REGISTRATION: - Suggested donation of $15-25.  QUESTIONS: write to


Story and Script Structures in Theatre, Audio Drama, Film, and Television: an online workshop for writers by writer-producer Rick Toscan. Sunday, April 23, 12:30-2:00PM Pacific Time.




You’re continually getting good ideas for scripts worth investment of your time and creativity. But what medium would be the right fit for the best of those ideas? Answering that question is a key to making scripts that work. In this workshop, we’ll look at the relationships between story and script structures in theatre, audio dramas, feature film, and series tv, visual and verbal storytelling, and dialogue styles. We’ll pull apart the differences in structures and techniques for full-length and episodic scripts and how these approaches can help determine the medium that may work best for a story concept. Rick’s slides will be shared with participants following the workshop.



Rick’s audio dramas have been broadcast by the BBC (Radio 1 & World Service), ABC (Australia), CBC (Canada), and in the US by Pacifica and NPR. He was executive producer and story editor of the first contemporary audio drama to attract significant audiences in the US and is credited with increasing the audience for public radio in America by 40%. He was an Armstrong Award nominee for Creative Use of the Radio Medium and a founding member of First Stage, the Los Angeles new play development program. He’s been a judge for regional and national screenwriting competitions and several of his writing mentees were winners of the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting. His plays have been produced in Los Angeles and staged at New Dramatists (New York) and other regional theatres. His Playwriting Seminars 2.0: A Handbook on the Art & Craft of Dramatic Writing with an Introduction to Screenwriting continues to be a widely used resource in the field. His new handbook, Writing Audio Drama: Making Scripts that Work for Fiction & True Crime Podcasts will be published in the Spring. In July, John and Maria Tenuto’s book on his groundbreaking audio work with Lucasfilm will be released – The Winds that Shook the Stars.


REGISTRATION: Suggested donation: $15-$25.



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