Meet the Artists: Eric Wright, Matt Singer, and Emily DeCola at The Puppet Kitchen

Puppet Showplace is serving up a delicious serving of puppetry for adult audiences this week as our Puppets at Night series presents, "What Are You Eating?", created by Eric Wright and Matt Singer, and directed by Emily DeCola. Just in time for Thanksgiving, the Puppet Kitchen's brilliant chefs arrive in Boston to cook-up a witty antidote to holiday indigestion. If you're feeling overwhelmed, lonely, confused and hungry for something (but you don't know what exactly), come sit and eat, and we'll work it out over something delicious. "What Are You Eating?" combines irreverent puppetry with original live music.  Recommended for ages 13+

Still hungry? Join us after the show Friday Nov 20 for an Opening Night Reception at The Middle Gray down the street. RSVP

What Are You Eating?
by Eric Wright and Matt Singer

Fri & Sat, November 20 & 21 at 8pm

Opening night reception, Friday November 20 at 9pm

Interview with Eric Wright

What is The Puppet Kitchen?

The Puppet Kitchen is a full-service puppetry studio that Emily DeCola, Michael Schupbach and I co-founded in New York's East Village. We design, build, perform, teach and direct puppetry in every style for events, screens, and stages all over the world.    

How did you become a puppeteer?

I've always had a wide range of interests: science, music, design, natural sciences, art, and theater.  In high school I became very interested in movie special effects - what we would call practical effects today - and I was also very influenced by the muppets and other puppet theater I had seen.  When I attended Sarah Lawrence College I met Dan Hurlin, who teaches the puppetry classes there, and I began to meet the community of puppeteers in New York that were creating exciting theater, as well as a supportive environment for new work. I knew almost immediately that if I focused on puppetry, and becoming a puppeteer, I would be able to combine all of my interests and never give any of them up.  I studied at the University of Connecticut's puppetry program, and attended the O'Neill National Puppetry Conference several times, meeting and learning from as many different people as I could. I practice a lot, say 'yes' to as much as I can, and take every opportunity I can to perform, build, and create more opportunities for other puppeteers.

Who are your collaborators to create this show, and what was the process to work with them?

I approached Matt Singer and Emily DeCola to help create the content of the show during a residency at the St. Ann's Warehouse Puppet Lab, and approached Michael Schupbach and the other folks at the Puppet Kitchen to help make the actual puppets for the show. At first, it was a very nerve-wracking and uncertain path to the creation of this show, because I wanted to fit a lot of message and substance into the show, while still keeping it entertaining, which I've never done before on my own work. Working with Matt and Emily to refine what that message was really great.  They're very generous with their ideas, and I always love working hard with close friends. We generated a lot of material (and cut a lot of cardboard) over the creation of this show, and I'm really pleased with what we've put together.

Who are the puppeteers/artists who have inspired you the most during your career?

I've always been inspired by good storytelling and entertainment that stretches or enhances reality. I also have really eclectic tastes, and love fine craftsmanship. I'm consistently inspired by the work from: The Muppets, Looney Tunes, Stan Winston Studios, Laika, Dan Hurlin, Mummenschanz, Philip Huber, Manual Cinema, Aardman Studios, Calvin and Hobbes, and Pixar.

What do you hope the audience will get out of their experience attending a performance of "What Are You Eating?"

I'd love the audience to remember how enjoyable it can be to share an experience together, whether it's a puppet show, a tasty dish, or even a question we've pondered.

What is your favorite part of the show?

I love that we've set our show up like a dinner party. I love greeting our audience as guests and sharing a snack with them afterward.

And the most important question, what is your favorite pie for Thanksgiving?

When we first performed the show at St. Ann's Warehouse, we served Occupie.  An Occupie is a chocolate dessert which has 70% of the sugar concentrated in the upper crust, making the bulk of the dessert pretty bitter, and forming an impenetrable ceiling of sugar which must be shattered in order to be enjoyed.  It's very rich, and appropriate for every occasion.  For Thanksgiving, though, I'll generally have pumpkin, pecan, apple, and a little of what you're having.

About the Artists:

ERIC WRIGHT (puppets) Performance credits include: The Firebird (City Center), Alice in Wonderland (New York City Opera), P.S. Jones and the Frozen City (New Ohio Theater) Compulsion (Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep, The Public), Disfarmer (St. Ann's Warehouse) Madama Butterfly (Metropolitan Opera), Peter and Wendy (Arena Stage), Powerhouse (Fringe Festival NYC), Petrushka (Lincoln Center), La Bella Dormente… (Spoletto Festival), Hiroshima Maiden (St. Ann's Warehouse) Don't Trust Anyone over 30 (Art Basel Miami). He is an Associate Artist of Sinking Ship Productions, and regular performer in Puppet Playlist. With Emily DeCola and Michael Schupbach, Mr. Wright is one of the co-founders and 'Head Chefs' of The Puppet Kitchen, a puppetry studio in New York's East village.

MATT SINGER (music) Brooklyn-based with New Jersey roots, Matt has played premier New York venues including Bowery Ballroom, Joe’s Pub and Gramercy Theatre and toured the U.S., U.K., and Europe. Matt’s live performance has been described as a “joyous roots sound strung through an urban outlet” (Village Voice). With a combination of his “silly yet sincere” persona (The Deli), improvisational stage antics, and infectious melodies, Matt generates a cozy atmosphere at his shows, transforming his audience into a small community. Recently, he has collaborated with filmmakers, puppeteers and playwrights, co-creating three music videos, two of which were featured at BAM's Puppets on Film Festival.

EMILY DECOLA (direction) is a proud co-founder of the Puppet Kitchen; working with partners Eric Wright and Michael Schupbach and a crowd of talented craftspeople and interns. Her performance, direction and design credits include: Compulsion and Hamlet (Public Theater), Peter & Wendy, Prelude to a Death in Venice and La Divina Caricatura (Mabou Mines), My Fairytale (Stephen Schwartz, world premiere, PCPA Theaterfest), Master Peter's Puppet Show (Castleton Opera Festival - Maestro Loren Maazel), A Soldier's Tale (Orchestra of St. Luke's) Pericles, Revengers Tragedy & Women Beware Women (Red Bull Theater), Animal Farm (Synapse Productions), Taylor Mac's The Lily's Revenge (HERE Theater) John Tartaglia's ImaginOcean (New World Stages) and LazyTown (Nickelodeon).