The FPI Files: Puppets, Prose & Pandemics

By Chelsea Sutton

In 2016, I had was a writer in the PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship. It was a life changing experience for me. I had always been a fiction writer, but that Fellowship gave me tools and confidence to finally embrace that part of my career.

Of course I have this whole other “career” as a playwright too. And I have been wondering, since 2016, how I could find ways to merge the two worlds and help amplify the program and the writers involved.

So last fall I pitched an idea to Amanda Fletcher, the Emerging Voices Fellowship Manager, for a live reading night called Puppets & Prose – during which we could get puppets and puppeteers to read written work from EV alum. It would be the weirdest reading night ever, but we were both super excited about it.

And then a pandemic hit. And there would be no live in-person puppet shows for a while…

But then…why not do it online?

So in April, when all the world was shutting down, I poked and prodded at Emerging Voices writers to send me some 1-3 min written pieces. And I worked with Rogue Artists Ensemble and the LA Guild of Puppetry to put a call for puppeteers, performers and visual artists who might want to take a piece and interpret the work into a short video.

The response was overwhelming – so much so that each of the 17 written pieces I got had TWO artists assigned to it – resulting in 33 final micro films. It took me almost a week to figure out the pairings!

All the films still live on our website and YouTube channel – but I wanted to share with you a few pieces that ended up being very fem-tastic – the writers and artists identify as female artists, and the results are amazing…

Granted, all I ever wanted were a few weird puppets looking into the camera and reading poetry to me, so maybe I have a low bar. But I think you will enjoy.

No video is over 5 minutes – so enjoy. And if you like these, watch the rest on the Rogue Artists Ensemble website.

Written by Jessica Shoemaker
Designed & Performed by Jaime Lyn Beatty

Written by Sandra Ramirez
Designed & Performed by Audrey Densmore

Written by Claire Lin
Created & Performed by Rachael Caselli

Written by Michelle Meyers
Designed and performed by Amy Judd Lieberman

Written and read by Amanda Fletcher
Designed and performed by Léonie Zikos

Written and read by Libby Flores
Designed & Performed by Mariasole Piccininno

Written and read by Wendy Labinger
Art Direction and Sound Design by Lori Meeker

Written by Natalie Mislang Mann
Designed and performed by Sarah Kay Peters

Written by Marnie Goodfriend
Designed and performed by Gina Sandy

Written by Carolina Rivera
Designed and performed by Kelly McMahon

Written and read by Marytza Rubio
Designed by Lelia Woods

Written by Wendy Labinger
Designed & Performed by Gretchen Van Lente
Read by Serra Hirsch

Story by Chelsea Sutton
Co-Created by Cinthia Nava & Danielle Haufman

Know a female or FPI-friendly theater, company or artist? Contact us at lafpi.updates@gmail.com & check out The FPI Files for more stories. 

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Los Angeles Female Playwrights Initiative is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of LAFPI must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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