How was Barefoot Puppets started?
Barefoot Puppets was begun in 1997 by Heidi Rugg, puppeteer and puppet builder. She had already been working with puppets as a puppet builder with Handemonium Puppets, a company in the Washington, D.C. area. In Spring 2001, Sam Rugg climbed on board to help with their growing touring schedule as driver, technical director, and “roadie.” The company has continued to grow with additional performers and more shows.
Why is the company called Barefoot Puppets?
When Heidi attended her first puppet festival, she noticed that some of the performers were not wearing shoes! Being barefoot reminded Heidi of her childhood — she always enjoyed running around barefoot, especially in Hawaii where she was born. It seemed appropriate to christen the company with these fond memories and images of childhood.
For whom do you perform? How large is you average audience?
Barefoot Puppets performs for theatres, schools, libraries, museums community centers, and festivals. Audience size is a bit flexible and ranges from 50 to 500 (sometimes less and sometimes more, depending on the show).
How much does a show cost? How do you figure travel expenses?
Pricing is based upon the size of a show and associated travel costs. As we tour in many states (and into Canada), prices vary greatly from location to location. We often coordinate tours in specific areas to keep our travel costs lower and our shows more affordable — ask us about block-booking discounts. Please contact us for more information or for a price quote.
How far in advance do you book?
Shows have been booked as far as several year in advance; occassionally they’ve been booked only a few weeks in advance. If you are looking for a specific date and time, it is best to let us know as soon as possible.
Where do you get your puppets?
All puppets are one-of-a-kind creations from Barefoot Puppets’ studio in Richmond, Virginia. Hand puppets, rod puppets, hand and mouth puppets, and all scenery are built using a wide variety of materials: fabric, foam, cotton, wool, latex rubber, slinkies, cardboard, handmade papers and more. Recycled materials are used whenever possible.
Where did you learn to make puppets?
Heidi Rugg learned how to build puppets by working with other puppet builders. Most notably, she worked with Barry Gordemer of Handemonium Puppets and learned about foam rubber puppet construction. She has also pitched in with Dinorock Productions. Heidi is also a huge fan of German Puppetbuilder, Hansjurgen Fettig, whose books have been a huge source of information, inspiration, and (even) frustration. Puppet festivals have also been another great source for learning. You can learn more about puppet festivals and other puppet resources by visiting the Puppeteers of America and UNIMA-USA websites.