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


2024 Festival Staff

Blair Thomas, Artistic Director, Festival Founder, Chicago Puppet Studio Co-Director
Sandy Smith Gerding, Executive Director
Cameron Heinze, Business Manager
Taylor Bibat, Festival & Education Coordinator
Lucy Wirtz, Events & Engagement Coordinator
Zach Sun, Studio Coordinator
Tom Lee, Chicago Puppet Studio & Puppet Lab Co-Director
Grace Needlman, Chicago Puppet Lab Co-Director & Catapult Facilitator
Caitlin McLeod, Chicago Puppet Studio Project Manager

Jess Mott Wickstrom, Graphic Design + Website
Jay Kelly, Press Relations
Deidre Huckabay, Grant Management Consulting

Nic Barnum, Festival Production Manager
Margaret Nelson, Festival Production Manager
Frank Rose, Festival Production Manager
Dr. Paulette Richards, Symposium Co-Director
Samuel J. Lewis II, Catapult Facilitator
Andy Wickstrom, Video production
Veronica Timble, Administrative Support

Photo Saverio Truglia

Blair Thomas, Artistic Director & Founder

The founder and Artistic Director of Blair Thomas & Co., Blair Thomas has twice earned the highest international honor for creators of original work in the medium, the UNIMA Excellence in Puppetry Award (2001, 2004). In addition, Thomas has received the Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award (2001, 2004), the After Dark Award (2002), and a number of Joseph Jefferson Citations. Currently on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Thomas has taught at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and held the first-ever Jim Henson Artist-in-Residence position at the University of Maryland, College Park. 

Co-founder and past Artistic Director of Redmoon Theater, Thomas has vigorously contributed to the Chicago theater scene as an actor, director, puppeteer, designer, and teacher for three decades, contributing to his status as “Chicago’s unofficial puppeteer-general” (TimeOut Chicago). Past President of the UNIMA-USA Board of Directors, Thomas represented the American chapter of the oldest international theater arts organization in the world.