© 2018 by Broken Puppet Symposium


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keynote speakers


Professor Petra Kuppers

Petra Kuppers is a community performance artist and a disability culture activist. She is a Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, teaching in Performance Studies. Kuppers is the Artistic Director of The Olimpias: Performance Research Projects, an international artists' collective that creates collaborative, exploratory environments for people with physical, emotional, sensory and cognitive differences and their allies. The Olimpias began as a collaboration among people with mental health differences in Wales. Petra's book about how The Olimpias conducts research through artistic practices, Disability Culture and Community Performance: Find a Strange and Twisted Shape (2011), won the biennial Sally Banes Award from the American Society for Theatre Research. Kuppers is also the recipient of the 2015 President’s Award for Art and Activism by the Women Caucus for the Arts. Kuppers explores how disability engages with culture and the arts in journals such as TDR: The Drama Review, About Performance, Liminalities, Afterimage, the Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and differences. Her books include Disability and Contemporary Performance: Bodies on Edge (2003), The Scar of Visibility: Medical Performances and Contemporary Art (2007), Community Performance: An Introduction (2007), and Studying Disability Arts and Culture (2014). She co-authored the poetry collection Cripple Poetics: A Love Story (2008) with fellow disability culture activist Neil Marcus. Her most recent publications include the poetry collection PearlStitch (2016) and Theatre & Disability (2017). A collection of queercrip speculative short stories, Ice Bar, appears in 2018.


Corina Duyn

Corina Duyn is an artist, including puppetry arts, and writer including for Disability Arts Online. Her story of exploring ways to create art and live well despite illness has been well documented over the years, including in documentaries Fit to Fly (2003) and Flight Path (2006), as well as  several radio interviews. Her work has received stunning reviews and has been used in theses and talks by professors and art students. During the 1990s she worked as a professional Doll Artist and facilitated workshops prior to the onset of illness (M.E.) in 1998, following which her creative output changed dramatically both in substance and intensity. She conducted a visual and written dialogue with her body and explored the accompanying emotions, physical challenges, sudden joys and moments of gratitude through the creation of art, and shared these works with an international audience through books and exhibitions. She facilitated an eight-month puppet-making project with fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA), and witnessed the empowering benefits of participation in the arts, by non-artists. The invitation to give a talk at the 2017 “The Broken Puppet: A Symposium on Puppetry, Disability, and Health” brought her into a world of 'all things puppet'.

Photo credit: Broken Puppet Symposium, Nik Palmer 2017

presenter bios

Pablo Ariel is founder and director of Galilee Multicultural Theatre. He is an actor and writer, director and puppeteer. He was the artistic director of the Deaf Theater of Magar. He has written and directed many shows for children and for adults. He has produced a series of educational films about human rights for the Israeli Ministry of Education, and has worked with different symphony orchestras in Israel, and abroad as a stage director, actor and scriptwriter of concerts for children.

Cariad Astles runs the Research Commission for the international puppetry association, UNIMA, and teaches puppetry at the Central School of Speech and Drama and Exeter University, UK. She  has directed puppetry for a number of companies and shows, and has run numerous puppetry training workshops in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Spain and China. She also works with the Catalan-based collective Irènia (www.irenia.net), a group of artists and educators working on themes of peace, development and global education. 

Nikki Charlesworth is a Theatre Designer, Puppeteer and Puppet Maker, who trained at Nottingham Trent University and currently resides in Nottingham. She has previously worked for Graeae Theatre Company and Ramps on the Moon, and is thrilled to now have the opportunity to develop her own work in Disability Arts.

Pat Deeny is senior lecturer in Nursing at Ulster University and co-ordinates the “Safe and Effective Nurse” module.


Amelia De-Felice is a writer, director and producer who started Exquisite Folly Theatre Company in 2005. She completed an MA in Theatre for Young Audiences at Bath Spa University (with distinction) and her specialisms are narrative improvisation, puppetry, promenade, clown and ensemble work.


Emma Fisher is a set, costume and puppet designer based in Limerick, Ireland. She recently completed her PhD in Puppetry and Disability at Mary Immaculate College. Her most recent designs include productions by MIDAS, Beyond the Bark, Limerick’s Music Legacy, Viva Voce, Thomas Johnston, Dance Limerick, St Mary’s Cathedral, Bottom Dog, Limerick Youth Theatre, Soul by the Sea,and Seahorse Films. She set up Beyond the Bark puppet and installation theatre in 2007.

Dr David Grant is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen’s University. He has enjoyed a long career in theatre in Ireland and elsewhere as Programme Director of the Dublin Theatre Festival and Artistic Director of Belfast’s Lyric Theatre. He is current Principal Investigator on the AHRC ‘Objects with Objectives’ Research Network which is exploring recent developments in Applied Puppetry with partners in The UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and the United States.


Dr Matt Hargrave is a Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne.  He is the author of Theatres of Learning Disability: Good, Bad or Plain Ugly?  (Palgrave 2015) which won TAPRA’s 2016 Early Career Research Award.


Kate James-Moore runs Commedia Puppets. She is an original and creative puppeteer, steeped in classical and contemporary 

performance, with an intuitive ability to communicate with workshop participants, audiences and other performers. 

Dr Matt Jennings is a lecturer of Drama at Ulster University and co-ordinates the “Performance and Health” module.

Riku Laakkonen is a puppeteer, director, actor, and teacher. After studying in DAMU in Prague, Theatre Laboratory ECS and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences he has been working with both professionals and amateurs. Over the years he has used applied puppetry as a working method for example with prisoners, refugees and mental health rehabilitees.


Paul McNamara is a Ph.D. Student and Departmental Assistant within the Department of English Language and Literature in Mary Immaculate College, Ireland. His research interests include disability studies, postcolonial studies, fairy tales, performance, gender studies, and modern Irish poetry and theatre. He is also a playwright and award-winning performance poet.


Chris Pirie (FHEA) is the Artistic Director of Green Ginger. Puppetry credits include Opera di Roma, Welsh National Opera, National Theatre, Canadian Opera Company, San Francisco Opera, Kneehigh, Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol Old Vic and Aardman Animations. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, lecturer at Bath Spa University and co-producer of Bristol Festival of Puppetry.


Dr Laura Purcell-Gates is Reader in Drama and founder/director of the Arts and Social Change Research Group at Bath Spa University, and Co-Artistic Director of UK-based puppetry company Wattle and Daub. Her current research concerns puppetry, disability and medical humanities. She was a steering group member of the 2017-18 AHRC research network Objects with Objectives: Applied Theatre and Puppetry.


Dr Karian Schuitema is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Keele University. She is an interdisciplinary researcher who specialises in participatory research with children as well as theatre and cultural representation. In addition to her academic research she has extensive experience of working with children and young people with special needs.


Dr. Matt Smith is Senior Lecturer in Applied Theatre at the University of Portsmouth, UK. Matt has twenty five years experience, working in diverse settings such as schools, prisons, environmental agencies, arts for health, youth arts, disability arts groups and with the homeless. Matt’s practice is interdisciplinary mixing drama, puppetry, masks, and junk music.


Dr Daniel Stolfi is an independent dramatherapist and medical anthropologist, and the artistic director of The Awesome Puppet Company. He has a specialist interest in therapeutic uses of puppetry and in healing as a cultural value. He collaborates regularly with fellow professionals and has

toured and held residencies, workshops and masterclasses locally and internationally.


Karl Tizzard-Kleister is a PhD researcher at Ulster University. His research explores collaborative approaches between applied drama and nursing education.