With a Story to tell...
First there was a love for puppets. I always knew they would make up a vital part of my career; this is something that has never changed.
Growing up in a one traffic-light, rural Georgia county of 11,000, the only professional performing arts to be viewed were touring shows coming through our public library.
Even from those small scale shows, I was hooked on the energy, power, and impact that comes from live performance. I began storytelling and working with puppets as means to have multiple characters. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the necessity of developing works by myself, forced me to create a unique aesthetic and process to how puppets are utilized and how stories are told.
While at Kennesaw State University, I worked with the KSU Tellers, the Theatre Department’s storytelling troupe. Helping to organize and curate shows and serving as emcee at off-campus performances meant learning new skills on how to develop original storytelling pieces and how they connect in a larger collaborative framework. While at KSU, I began working full time as a puppet builder at the Center for Puppetry Arts.
Years with the Center for Puppetry Arts, and then years dressing on the wardrobe crew for the Alliance Theatre, I struggled. I found great joy in the actual creation of works and collaborating with other artists. But the process surrounding it became difficult. Planning, preparation, and sustainable income felt really hard to come by in the non-profit world, at least in my case. It reeked havoc on my depression —Having a love for the craft, but not finding it comforting or affordable in the end.
Freelancing was a much needed means of freedom for a given amount of time. I then began Teller Productions to offer my regular freelance clients more services, and to offer myself a more long-term creative future. Serving as an outsourced puppet department for these clients has meant collaborating with some amazing fellow artists and better planning of the producing, designing, labor, and fabrication of the puppets…and damn does it show.
“Skillfully crafted” is an important term used in Teller Productions’ mission statement. A commitment to quality. Making work that baffles audiences on how it was created. Making pieces that are durable to the rigors of performance so performers never have to worry if something is going to go wrong. Clients come to us because Teller Productions already has a reputation for creating works that are a worthy investment. It’s all been heartwarming. And petrifying (in the best possible way).
The most unexpected component of my career evolution: the commitment to now help fellow artists create and maintain sustainable careers of their own.
I honestly would not be where I am, were it not for the shared knowledge of some amazing artisans. By investing in the skills and futures of other artists, they become an invaluable resource to then be utilized. Art begets arts. Business begets business.
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