Festival Staff

Blair Thomas, Artistic Director & Founder 

Sandy Smith Gerding, Executive Director

Taylor Bibat, Festival & Education Coordinator

Tom Lee, Co-Director of the Chicago Puppet Studio & Puppet Lab

Grace Needlman, Chicago Puppet Lab Coordinator

Mark Blashford, Studio Coordinator

Cameron Heinze, Finance

Jess Mott Wickstrom, Graphic Design + Website

Jay Kelly PR, Press Relations

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.