Catapult Artists Intensive

The Catapult: For Practicing Artists of all Disciplines

The Catapult Artist Intensive returns with 2 unique professional development weekends to inspire and inform practicing artists of all disciplines. Over a three-day period, participants take a deep dive into puppetry with a curated, guided experience of the Festival programming. Join an intimate cohort, escorted by a professional leader, for discussions, backstage access and more. The Catapult is designed to advance the form and provide artists the opportunity to expand their understanding of the field of puppetry. Each weekend includes 8 performances in 3 days, with 2 panel discussions, some meals, and local transportation. Complete schedule will be posted on website soon. No application required. Hotel is not included in the price, but hotel discount is available.

Program Details

Ages: 18 and up

Health: We will be following local mandates at the time.

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


Session 1
Friday, January 20 at 2:00pm through Sunday, January 22 at 7:00pm
Led by Samuel J. Lewis II

Session 2
Friday, January 27 at 2:00pm through Sunday, January 29 at 7:00pm
Led by Grace Needlman

Location & Transportation: Cohort meets at the Fine Arts Building and travels together to venues throughout Chicago. Participants are responsible for their own transportation to/from airport if needed.

Cost: $590 ($200 deposit due upon registration, $390 remaining balance due before January 6, 2023)

Lodging: Festival provides a hotel discount code to participants so they can get a low rate which they book and pay for themselves.

For more information please email:

Session I Schedule

Friday, January 20 at 2:00pm through Sunday January 22 at 7:00pm

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

Full Schedule Coming Soon!

Session II Schedule

Friday, January 27 at 1:00pm through Sunday, January 29 at 7:00pm

Led by Grace Needlman (read bio below)

Full Schedule Coming Soon!

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.