Join us for the next Festival: January 15-26, 2025

Catapult Artist Intensive

The Catapult: For Practicing Artists of all Disciplines​

The Catapult Artist Intensive returns with two professional development weekends designed to advance the form and expand understanding of the field of puppetry in the United States. Each weekend, practicing artists of all disciplines are taken on a three-day, curated, guided experience of festival programming. Join an intimate cohort, escorted by a professional leader, for discussions, a performance workshop, backstage access to the shows and more. Each immersive weekend includes eight performances, with symposiums and local transportation. Registration is $595 per weekend, including some meals. Limited capacity. Scholarships available. No application required. Hotel is not included in the price, but hotel discount is available at Warwick Allerton Hotel with discount code.

Program Details

Ages: 18 and up

Who: Artists from any discipline and those seeking to deepen their puppetry experience


Weekend 1
Friday, January 19 at 2 pm through Sunday, January 21 at 5 pm

Weekend 2
Friday, January 26 at 2 pm through Sunday, January 28 at 5 pm

Location & Transportation: Cohort travels together to venues throughout Chicago. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to/from airport as needed.

Cost: $595 ($250 deposit due upon registration, $345 remaining balance due before January 6, 2023)

Lodging: Hotel discount code available to participants so they can get a low rate which they book and pay for themselves– Warwick Allerton Hotel with code PUPPETFEST24

For more information please email:

Session I Schedule

Friday, January 19 at 2 pm through Sunday, January 21 at 5 pm

Led by Samuel J. Lewis II (read bio below)


*This schedule has been updated as of January 12, and now includes Tears by the River rather than Nasty, Brutish and Short on Saturday 1/20.

Friday, January 19:

Saturday, January 20:


Sunday, January 21:

Session II Schedule

Friday, January 26 at 2 pm through Sunday, January 28 at 5 pm

Led by Grace Needlman (read bio below)


*This schedule has been updated as of January 25, and now does not include Nasty, Brutish and Short on Saturday 1/26.

Friday, January 26:

Saturday, January 27:

Sunday, January 28:

Lead Artists

Photo: Yvette Marie Dostani

Samuel J. Lewis II

Sam is an accidental puppeteer who now tries to create intentional work. He has worked for over a decade with a vintage Black Americana marionette, he reimagined as, “Jus Hambone.” Currently, he’s building new puppets for the first time, with the generous help of Grace Needlman of Wonder Wagon, for a long-form piece he’s creating based on newly discovered family history, tentatively titled, Everybody Knew Their Place. 

Grace Needlman

Grace Needlman (they/she) is excited to join the Chicago International Puppet Festival team as the Chicago Puppet Lab Coordinator. As a cultural worker and puppet designer, Grace explores collective imagination and is committed to creating equitable pathways for Chicago artists. Grace’s puppet designs appear on stages across Chicago, and they are a company member at Rough House. Grace also works as Manager of Studio Programs at Mawen and publishes and presents on youth agency, collaboration, and queering museums. Grace holds a BA in fine art from Yale University and an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from Goldsmiths University of London.