Puppetry Home Page

The Obies and Puppetry
by Steve Abrams

First presented in 1956 by the Village Voice to recognize achievement in New York City Off-Broadway theatre. A few winners have gone on to international fame in theatre and film including Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Bacon, Morgan Freeman, and Meryl Streep. The Obies have recognized a number of theatre artists who work with puppets and the Village Voice is one of the few newspapers that consistently reviews puppetry.

Village Voice 36 Cooper Sq NY NY 10003 website:villagevoice.com/obies

Peter Schumann 1965-1966 special citation
Bread & Puppet Theatre 1973-74 special citation
Charles Ludlam Professor Bedlam's Punch & Judy Show 1974-75 special citation
Ralph Lee Halloween Parade 1975-76 special citation
Winston Tong 1977-78 special citation
Peter Schumann's Bread & puppet Theatre 1977-78 lifetime achievement
Lee Breuer Shaggy Dog Animation 1977-78 best new American play
Fred Garbo, Michael Moschen, Bob Berky Fool's Fire 1982-83 special citation
Julie Taymor 1984-85 special citation
Mabou Mines 1985-86 sustained achievement
Charles Ludlam & the Ridiculous Theatre Co 1986-87 sustained achievement
Julie Taymor Juan Darien 1987-88 direction
Paul Zaloom House of Horror 1988-89 special citation
Janie Geiser Stories from Here 1988-89 special citation
Tamamatsu Yoshida The Warrior Ant 1988-89 special citation
International Festival of Puppet Theatre 1992-93 special citation
Rose the Dog (Julie Archer & Babrara Pollitt) Epidog 1995-96 performance
Peter & Wendy 1996-1997 best production
Karen Kandel Peter & Wendy 1996-97 performance
Great Small Works 1996-97 grant
Basil Twist Symphonie Fantastique 1998-99 special citation
Ronnie Burkett Tinka's New Dress 1998-99 special citation

Some research notes:

Information Please Almanac did not include special citations so the references were not helpful.

The Village Voice database rarely mentions puppets. I might have missed a few puppet connected awards.

Tadeusz Cantor (1915-1990) a Polish born playwright, had connections with puppetry, and won 3 Obies (79,82,86) but I have no details about the productions.

Stuart Sherman (also with an interest in puppets) won an Obie in 1978 Dan Hurlin did a Toy Theatre work at the Henson Festival in 1996 and won an Obie in 1990.

Lee Breuer's puppet works with Mabou Mines included Shaggy Dog Animation, Warrior Ant, Epidog, and Peter & Wendy all recognized with Obies. As far as I know the performance award to Rose the Dog is the first time that a puppet has been so honored. (There was a failed campaign to get Miss Piggy nominated for an Emmy). Lee Breuer has been honored with a MacArthur Fellowship. Julie Taymor won a MacArthur Fellowship and was the first puppeteer (and woman) to be honored with a Tony Award

Ronnie Burkett won the Canadian equivalent of the Tony Award for Tinka‚s New Dress.

Winston Tong probably won his award for "Bound Feet." He is a San Francisco based artist who attended Calif Institute of Art. He is a vocalist, songwriter, and poet who worked with the rock band, Tuxedomoon.

Fred Garbo is on this list because for several years he played the Barclay the Dog on Sesame Street.

Charles Ludlam (1943-1987) was a great innovator in theatre and loved puppets since childhood

Peter Schumann, Julie Taymor, Lee Breuer, Janie Geiser, Ralph Lee, Paul Zaloom, Great Small Works (John Bell & Co), and Basil Twist have won UNIMA Citations for Excellence.

Peter Schumann was honored with the Puppeteers of America Presidents Award

Send additions and corrections to Steve Abrams sapuppets@bigfoot.com

The Puppetry Home Page
Last updated 29 June 1999