Trouble Puppet Theater Company is dedicated to the creation of exceptional works of puppet theater, to the promotion of the art of puppetry, and to the support of its practitioners.

 

We dig as deeply as we can into the possibilities that puppetry offers, in its many forms and styles, and seek to balance risk and exploration with a drive for excellent craft and technique.

 

Our work is inspired not only by our artistic passion but by our social, political, and human convictions: that there can be no end to the struggle for knowledge and compassion, against injustice and intolerance—and boring theater.

 

Trouble Puppet Theater Company (TPT) was founded in Austin in 2004 by Connor Hopkins. For several years the company performed rowdy, farcical, and political booth shows and parade puppetry at festivals and nontraditional venues.

 

From 2005 to 2009, TPT was commissioned to create a series of street theater events for First Night Austin, where TPT first caught the eye of many now-longtime patrons. Around 2006, TPT began appearing as an opening act for plays produced by Salvage Vanguard Theater and soon became SVT’s sponsored project.

 

In 2007 Trouble Puppet shifted its focus to fully staged theatrical productions that primarily use American tabletop puppets, along with hand puppets, shadow puppets, and Czech-style marionettes. Original theatrical productions include

 

  • The Jungle: recipient of B. Iden Payne (BIP) awards for Outstanding Script, Outstanding Direction of a Drama, Outstanding Sound Design, and Special Certificate for Puppetry; Austin Theater Examiner Award for Best New Play Written by an Austinite; listed on four of the Austin Chronicle’s “Best of” the year lists, including “Top 10 Notable Theatrics”
     

  • Frankenstein: recipient of BIP awards for Outstanding Puppetry, Outstanding Direction of a Drama, Outstanding Production of a Drama
     

  • Riddley Walker: recipient of BIP awards for Outstanding Sound Design, Outstanding Media Design, Outstanding Puppetry; Austin Critics’ Table Award; listed on the Chronicle’s “Top 10 Arts Events”
     

Other works that have earned awards and praise include The Gunpowder Plot, The Case of the Haymarket Riot, Toil & Trouble

(based on Shakespeare's Macbeth), The Cruel Circus, The Head, The Crapstall Street Boys, and The Wars of Heaven.

 

With Glass Half Full Theatre, Trouble Puppet created the annual Austin Puppet Incident in 2011, supported in part by the national Puppet Slam Network. TPT has also been recognized for bringing the work of other puppet companies to Austin, including The Secret Agents’ Poste Restante, winner of an Austin Critics’ Table Award for Best Touring Production.

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Connor Hopkins, a self-taught puppet-maker and puppeteer, is the founder and Artistic Director of Trouble Puppet Theater Company (2004–current) in Austin, Texas (described in the Austin Chronicle in March 2014 as “one of the most revered theater companies in Austin”) and, previously, of the Personal Demons of the Republic (2000–2004).

 

He has written and produced more than a dozen plays for American tabletop puppets, shadow puppets, hand puppets, and Czech-style marionettes. His major works include The Jungle (recipient of B. Iden Payne awards for Outstanding Script, Outstanding Direction of a Drama, Outstanding Sound Design, and Special Certificate for Puppetry; Austin Theater Examiner Award for Best New Play Written by an Austinite; and placement on four Austin Chronicle “Best of” the year lists), Frankenstein (recipient of B. Iden Payne Awards for Outstanding Puppetry, Outstanding Direction of a Drama, Outstanding Production of a Drama), and Riddley Walker (recipient of Outstanding Sound Design, Outstanding Media Design, Outstanding Puppetry; an Austin Critics’ Table Award; and inclusion on the Austin Chronicle’s “Top 10 Arts Events”).

 

Trouble Puppet has appeared in American Theatre magazine, has been profiled in The Puppetry Journal, and has received several Jim Henson Foundation grants in support of Connor’s work.

 

Connor has been an Emerging Artist at the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and teaches puppet construction and manipulation workshops at Salvage Vanguard Theater. He has collaborated with author Russell Hoban, the New Dramatists, Rubber Rep, Physical Plant Theater, Glass Half Full Theatre, The Hidden Room, The Rude Mechanicals, Salvage Vanguard Theater, and others.

 

Connor is also a founder and the Operations Coordinator of the Austin Scenic Co-op, which has received grants from the Theater Communications Group to support the reuse and recycling of scenic materials and reduce the waste, cost, and labor of producing staged work. He is married to Caroline Reck, Artistic Director of Glass Half Full Theatre, also in Austin, Texas. Connor also teaches art at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Justice Facility.

 

Meredith Balderston      Devo Carpenter      Joe Carpenter      Zac Crofford      Parker Dority

Rob Jacques      K. Eliot Haynes     Chris Owen      Stephen Pruitt      Caroline Reck     

Justin Sherburn      Gricelda Silva      Marc Smith     

Awards

 


B. Iden Payne Awards

Outstanding Ensemble Performance (2015), Jose Villarreal with Zac Crofford and Katy Taylor; Travis Bedard with Noel Gualin and Gricelda Silva, The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

Outstanding Media Design (2015), Chris Owen, The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

Outstanding Lighting Design (2015), Stephen Pruitt, The Strange Case of Edward Hyde and Dr. Jekyll
Outstanding Puppetry (2014), The Head
BOutstanding Media Design (2014): K. Eliot Haynes and Chris Owen, The Crapstall Street Boys
Outstanding Puppetry (2013), Cruel Circus
Outstanding Puppetry (2012), Riddley Walker
Outstanding Media Design (2012): Chris Owen and K. Eliot Haynes, Riddley Walker
Outstanding Sound Design (2012) K. Eliot Haynes, Riddley Walker
Outstanding Production of a Drama (2011), Frankenstein: The Trouble Puppet Show
Outstanding Direction of a Drama (2011), Connor Hopkins, Frankenstein: The Trouble Puppet Show
Outstanding Puppetry (2011), Frankenstein: The Trouble Puppet Show
Special Certificate for Puppetry (2010), The Jungle
Outstanding Direction of a Drama (2010), Connor Hopkins, The Jungle
Outstanding Original Script (2010), Connor Hopkins, The Jungle
Outstanding Sound Design (2010), K. Eliot Haynes, The Jungle


The Jim Henson Foundation
Production Grant (2015), for Wars of Heaven: Smackdown!

Seed Grant (2013), for The Head
Project Show Grant (2011), to create the 2011 The Jungle
Seed Grant (2009), for The Jungle

 

Austin Chronicle
Top 10 Creative Things I Lucked into in 2014, The Strange Case of Edward Hyde & Dr. Jekyll
Top 10 Theatrical Sets of 2013, The Head
Top 10 Creative Things I Lucked into in 2013, The Head
Top 10 Arts Events of 2012, Fight Choreography, Toil & Trouble
Top 10 Theatrical Joys of 2012: Puppet Theatre, The Crapstall Street Boys
Top 10 Designer Contributions of 2012, K. Eliot Haynes Sound and Video, The Crapstall Street Boys
Top 10 Arts Events of 2011, Riddley Walker
Top 10 Notable Theatrics of 2011, The Jungle
Best of 2009: Top 9 Theatre Productions That Did Ascend the Brightest Heaven of Invention, The Jungle (#1 on list)
Best of 2009: Top 9 Creative Arts, ah, Things I Was Lucky Enough to Experience This Year, The Jungle (#1 on list)
Best of 2009: Top 9 Ways to Decorate a Set, Connor Hopkins, The Jungle (#1 on list)


Austin Critics' Table Awards
Sound Design (2014–2015), K. Eliot Haynes,  The Wars of Heaven, Part I

Original Composition/Score (2014–2015), Justin Sherburn, The Wars of Heaven, Part I

Sound Design (2013–2014), K. Eliot Haynes, The Crapstall Street Boys
Video Design (2013–2014), K. Eliot Haynes and Chris Owen, The Crapstall Street Boys
Lighting Design (2013–2014), Stephen Pruitt, in part for The Crapstall Street Boys
Touring Show (2012), for bringing The Secret Agents' show Poste Restante to Austin
Sound Design (2012), K. Eliot Haynes, Riddley Walker


Austin Theater Examiner
Austin Theater Examiner (2010), Best New Play Written by an Austinite, Connor Hopkins, The Jungle
Austin Theatre Examiner (2015), Top 20 Plays of 2014: Hyde & Jekyll, #17

 

© Trouble Puppet Theater Company.   All Rights Reserved.

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Trouble Puppet is a sponsored project of Salvage Vanguard Theater and is umbrellaed under its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

 

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department.