First, the official, serious, third person bio:
Calliope Puppets’ founder and artistic director, Karen Konnerth, writes shows, designs and builds puppets in a wide variety of techniques, and performs with live voice. For three decades she has presented in theaters, museums, festivals, and schools in urban and in remote communities in the United States, as well as for international events in Peru, Argentina, México, Guatemala, Colombia, Spain, Puerto Rico, India, and Pakistan. Calliope Puppets invite family audiences on explorations of folklore, culture, and fantasy to bring imagination to learning.
ARTS IN EDUCATION SPECIALIST
Karen has countless hours of classroom experience integrating art across the curriculum in active learning formats successful in motivating enthusiasm in students towards comprehension and retention of core content.Adult workshops include presentations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as well as for the U.S. Embassy English Language Specialist Program in Costa Rica, Brunei, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, including a plenary address at the 6th Asia Teachers of English as a Second Language International Conference in Bali, Indonesia.Karen was awarded the 2011 Puppeteers of America Marjorie Batcheldor McPharlin Award for puppetry-related contributions in the field of education and therapy.
WRITER AND ILLUSTRATOR
A dedicated member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Karen is expanding her experience writing and illuminating stories with visual imagery through puppetry, to the printed page.
But it’s all a matter of viewpoint…
Hunh, me? Oh, okay. What cha wanna know about Karen? I’m one of the first in her family of puppets. You will notice, by the way, there is no hot glue on me – all hand sewn. Yeah, the needle hurt a little, too. I had to tell this story she wrote from a Gahan Wilson cartoon – I was this grumpy guy (was?) who just made bad news phone calls ‘til I got this awful smile mask in the mail. Anyway, she just told original stories back then, for parties, and in malls. You know I tried to be as mean as I could, but the kids still loved me. Ugh! I semi retired a while back, so that’s all I can tell you.
Bio by Maggie
Karen and I have been working together for at least 10 years. I often get to introduce the show (I think she might see me as her future self). I get to be the mother of those three pigs sometimes, and sometimes Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, though she doesn’t do that story often. I usually get to shake a lot of children’s huge hands, and most of them are very nice to me. I got to go to Bahrain and India in December 2013, which was exciting, except for the hours in the suitcase. Karen has been taking us with her a lot to puppet festivals in Central and South America, too. (yes, we speak Spanish there). We love going to those festivals – the other puppets we meet are super friendly! We love meeting our cousins all around the world!
Bio by Text Bear
I get to go with Karen into schools and help little kids who are learning to read. The kids learn my name right away, and they start looking for text everywhere – and then, guess what, they want to read it! Karen teaches all kinds of things, from history, to science, to culture, with us puppets helping. Don’t tell Karen, but I think the kids are even more excited to see us than they are to see her. They like her, too, though. They usually call her “The Puppet Lady”, if they don’t know her name. I was not actually born a puppet. I was in Karen’s grandmother’s teddy bear collection, and Karen remembers her grandmother’s love of children by making some of us into puppets and taking us out into the world.
Bio by Chef Etouffée
Eh, Cher, I can tell you a bit about that Karen, me. I’ve been tellin’ that Turtle Soup story for years – and damned if that turtle don’t get away every time! I started out as a brother of dat Mr. Grump, I did. But Karen decided I needed a makeover, and she wasn’t foolin’ around. She rebuilt me out of papiér maché (dats French for newspaper and glue). And THEN she wasn’t happy enough with that, no, cher, she rebuilt me AGAIN a whole lot smaller, out of some stuff called neoprene. You know, dey say, a puppeteer don’t retire, dey just make smaller puppets. But it’s all the same to me – I’m still workin’ and one day maybe I get to eat that turtle!
I haven’t known Karen that long, as I was just born spring 2013. In my story, my descendants actually turn into birds! I think the story is about a big word called “evolution”, but she didn’t use that word in the show because our governor doesn’t believe in it. But people loved our show, and now she took my picture and has made our story into a book. I hope it gets published – though I guess that won’t happen here in Louisiana. The other puppets are jealous that Karen is spending too much time writing stories now, and they don’t get out enough. Oh well.