About tomsarver

I'm a Pittsburgh artist working in community-based projects, site-specific installation, performance and video.

Guild Sunsetting

After four years of operation as an official Puppeteers of America puppetry guild for the Greater Pittsburgh Region, the Puppetry guild of Pittsburgh (PGOP) is suspending its organizational status (as of December 15, 2019). The group will continue as a social media group, via Facebook.

PGOP has achieved significant success over the four years, including annual Puppet Slam events at the WBU– Spring Hill, Carnegie Museum of Art and Union Project. The Guild organized World Puppetry Day activities at various Pittsburgh venues in 2018 and 2019.

Thank you for your support over the past four years!


August Slam Recap

The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh held an action-packed annual slam event on August 17th. The event, at Spring Hill’s WBU Event Venue, began with a picnic on the lawn featuring puppets from Cheryl Capezzuti’s Giant Puppet Dance Club. The crowd then moved inside for a lineup of shows including Giant Puppet Dance Club (Kid Edition), Goodbye Blue Sky by Becky Spevak and Tim College, two scenes from Penelope’s Dragon by Darlene Thompson and company, Popcorn Popcorn Hey Hey Hey by Dave English and The Alligator is My Friend by Suzanne Werder to round out the first act. Various antics by emcees Tom Sarver and Dave English filled out the show including puppet ball toss, a blindfolded puppet hunt and puppet sketching activities.

A terrible storm hit during the first act, but the show went on. The second act featured You Are Here by Cheryl Capezzuti, Hippies in Space by Kirsten Ervin and Will Simmons, A Family Friendly Song About a Bad Word by Suzanne Werder, The Farmers and The Bugs by Sarver Express and Cheryl Capezzuti’s Giant Puppet Dance Club.

The show was well attended. A family-friendly focus with lots of audience interaction made for one of the most successful Puppetry Guild events yet.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Audience interaction during Suzanne Werder’s show.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

A bake sale by Cassidy raised funds for the Puppetry Guild.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Giant Puppet Dance Club.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Tom and Kristen Sarver perform The Farmers and The Bugs.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Goodbye Blue Sky by Becky Spevak and Tim College.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

You Are Here by Cheryl Capezzuti.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Puppets for sale by Darlene Thompson.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Suzanne Werder

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Tom Sarver leads a game of Puppet Sketch

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Hippies in Space by Kirsten Ervin and Will Simmons

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Giant Puppet Dance Club, Kids Edition

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Dave English and Company.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

A talented young audience member gives an impromptu performance.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Darlene Thompson and Company.

Family Puppet Slam Returns on August 17th, 2019.

The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh invites puppet enthusiasts to a family-friendly performance on Spring Hill.

Are you ready for a puppet adventure?  Come check out what is happening in the world of Pittsburgh Puppet Theater! Head up to Spring Hill for the fourth annual Puppet Slam, brought to you by the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh. This year the event is hosted at the Workingmen’s Beneficial Union, an adventurous event space that includes an outdoor picnic area that will be full of pop-up puppet fun and an indoor performance featuring many of Pittsburgh’s favorite puppeteers. Asado Wood Fired Grill on Wheels will be ready with dinner for you and your crew and Spring Hill Brewing will be serving their delicious craft brews and Teaboy Pop.

Tom Sarver poster 2019

“Come to the puppet show! This year the guild is presenting a fun night of short shows with families in mind. There will be hand puppets, rod puppets and giant dancing puppets. Get out, enjoy the magic of puppetry, and celebrate with Pittsburgh’s creative puppetry community!”

–  Tom Sarver, Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

A Puppet Slam is a showcase of short, contemporary puppetry. The main performances will include marionettes, giant puppets, hand puppets, and shadow puppets. The evening will be hosted by Pittsburgh favorites Tom Sarver and Dave English. Expect performances from seasoned puppeteers Cheryl Capezzuti and Kellee Van Aken (Fuzzy Boundary Productions), Kirsten Ervin and Darlene Thompson. Relative newcomers Becky Spevak and Suzanne Werder will round out the show. Bring a favorite puppet to showcase at the event and enjoy a treat from the puppet-themed bake sale with proceeds benefiting the Puppetry Guild. The evening will begin with an interactive dance experience with Giant Puppet Dance Club, winners of an Awesome Pittsburgh grant. At 7:00 a puppet parade will lead people indoors.

The Workingmen’s Beneficial Union was a 100-year-old social hall that served the Spring Hill community. It is home to Spring Hill Brewing, Rescue Street Farms and the WBU event space all less than 10 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh.  Learn more at https://www.goodfoodpittsburgh.com/spring-hill-brewing-will-open-this-week/

The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh unites puppeteers, puppetmakers and people that love puppets by supporting and celebrating the art of puppetry in the greater Pittsburgh region. This organization formed in the fall of 2015 and is working to produce more puppetry-related events in the region. The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh is affiliated with the national organization Puppeteers of America. Anyone who loves and supports puppetry in the region is welcome to join the guild for an annual membership fee of $15.00.

New Sun Rising is the fiscal sponsor for The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh. NSR provides strategic programs, vital services, and accessible funding to power civic innovation from idea to impact.

Pittsburgh Puppet Slam

When: Saturday, August 17, 2019

Picnic and Fun: 6:00 PM

Performances: 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Where: Workingmen’s Beneficial Union, Spring Hill, 1958 Varley St, Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Tickets: $10 Adults, $5 Children

Buy online or cash at the door: https://puppet.bpt.me

Puppet Karaoke at Boom Concepts!


Dave English of the Puppetry Guild and local artist DS Kinsel will be holding their next Puppet Karaoke on Wednesday, June 5th. This is a great opportunity for guild members and friends to meet new people and to take part in a fun, community event. No puppetry experience necessary. Join in the fun or hang out and cheer everyone on.


Puppet Karaoke is really just that- karaoke using puppets! Don’t have a great voice? Not sure about Karaoke? Puppets make all of that go away! We provide the stage and system. Audience members borrow or bring puppets and even make them on the spot at the puppet making station! Or they relax as voyeurs while their nervier or more inebriated friends sing their puppet lungs out. Anything else you have planned on a Wednesday pales in comparison to this. So we will see you there!

When: Wednesday, June 5th and Wednesday, July 31st (Doors at 6:00PM – 9:00PM).

Where: Boom Concepts 5139 Penn Ave Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15224

How Much?: $5 Admission. BYOB.

Audience: Grown.

Who?: BOOM Concepts is a community organization created for the expansion of activity for artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs who have common interests.

DS Kinsel (Co-Host) D.S. Kinsel is an award winning creative entrepreneur and cultural agitator. He expresses his creativity through the mediums of painting, window display, installation, curating, action-painting, non-traditional performance and #HASHTAGS. D.S. is the co-founder Of BOOM Concepts, a creative hub dedicated to the advancement of black and brown artists representing marginalized communities. A former AmeriCorps Public Ally member, D.S. has also been recognized as an Awardee of the Pittsburgh Courier Fab 40, Pittsburgh Magazine.

Dave English (Co-Host) is a Pittsburgh based artist, writer, and puppeteer. He lives in Polish Hill and is a Pittsburgh area native. Dave is the president of the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh and has performed in Pittsburgh and other cities for nearly two decades.

Audience Participants Who knows who is going to show up to sing Puppet Karaoke? But we are hoping this partnership brings out a diverse group of adventurous folks ready to make puppets and sing really loud! Why Is This Going To Be Awesome? A cold weekday evening in February might be the worst- if it wasn’t for Puppet Karaoke. There is certainly nothing else happening that night as cool as this. Come have a few drinks, sing a love song from a puppet, maybe to a puppet, and be home early enough to be functional at work on Thursday.


April puppet events…

April is going to be a busy month for puppetry in Pittsburgh. Here are a few of of the events we know about:

FOR FAMILIES: Flying Fish at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival, presented by guild member Darlene Thompson and her group Puppets in Performance. April 4th (7 PM), April 6th (5 PM) and April 7th (4 PM), Irma Freeman Center for Imagination. MORE INFO

FOR GUILD MEMBERS: Guild Quarterly Meeting, Wednesday, April 10th, 7 PM to 9 PM at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts & Media. At this meeting, we will primarily be discussing guild business and event planning.

FOR KARAOKE LOVERS: Guild member Dave English will be hosting Puppet Karaoke at Boom Concepts. April 10th, 6 PM – 9 PM. MORE INFO

BAR SCENE: Quintron and Miss Pussycat at SPIRIT, April 23rd, 10 PM. MORE INFO

LATE NIGHT CROWD: Diablerie or the Last Puppet Show, presented by guild member Murphi Cook at The Glitter Box. April 26th, 8 PM or April 27th, 8 PM. MORE INFO


Pics from Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry / World Puppetry Day 2019

Images captured at the Brillobox Puppet Happy Hour on March 21, 2019 by photographer Larry Rippel.


PGOP President Dave English Cohosted the Brillobox Happy Hour Event.


Guild members Veronica and Mallory taking part in Puppet Improv. 


Guests brought an antique Margo Lovelace puppet. 


The entrance of Cheryl Capezzuti’s Giant Puppet Dance Club.


An opening performance by guild member Joann Kielar.


Guild member Albert Pantone announces the development of a new show inspired by his travels to the Amazon.


Live music was provided by Unfinished Symphonies.


A visitor practices for her first time at Puppet Improv.


A Puppet Improve situation in progress. “Where is my lost cat?”


Guild member Tom Sarver cohosted the event.


Guild member Darlene Thompson performed a short act.


Veronica White and Darlene Thompson.


Tom Sarver with his trophy for the Puppet Boss competition.


Guild Members Kirsten Ervin and Katy Dement compete for the title of 2019 Puppet Boss.


Puppet Boss contestants where asked to create a puppet, following a diagram and utilizing a bag of crafting materials. They had ten minutes to complete the challenge. 


It’s a close call, but Katy is declared Puppet Boss.


Judy makes a stage appearance for Puppet Improv.

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Dave English performs his Henry David Thoreau Bot act. 


A guest tries her hand at Puppet Improv.


A buffet of puppets for everyone to use during their Puppet Improv Acts.


A wild and wacky episode of Puppet Improv.


A puppet creation by Dave English dances in the stage lights of the Brillobox.


Dave English and friends on stage for a magical moment with a Margo Lovelace puppet.


Mr. and Mrs. Funky on stage for a song.


Will Simmons ran the sound board and had some fun with the audience.


Puppet Dance Time!


Lost in the moment.


Stage antics.


An excellent first attempt at Puppet Improv.


Suzanne and Kirsten try Puppet Improv.


Guild member Albert Pantone with Puppet Improv.



2019 Pittsburgh & World Puppetry Day


Tom and Dave emceeing a Brillobox upstairs improv puppet event. All (21 and over) are welcome to attend the Thursday, March 21st 6 PM to 9 PM event. Participation is optional but encouraged. No puppetry experience necessary. 

Puppet Day in the ‘Burgh

Get ready to celebrate with puppet festivities all over the city

March 12, 2019—Thursday, March 21 is Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry and the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh wants everyone to take advantage of the puppet fun. The highlight of the day is Puppet Happy Hour at the Brillobox from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm featuring puppet improv and short works by Pittsburgh puppeteers.

Presented by the Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh with the support of the Mayor’s Office of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry exists in coordination with UNIMA’s World Day of Puppetry on March 21st, 2019. On this day the puppeteers and puppetry enthusiasts of our city bond with counterparts worldwide to elevate, celebrate, and demonstrate the art of puppetry.

–  Dave English, President, Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh

Check out these puppetry events in celebration of Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry:

Giant Puppet Fitness Class-California Cyclepath, a fitness studio in Brighton Heights, will host a giant puppet fitness class from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm on March 21. In this free event participants will wear giant puppets while following along to dance fitness routines. Sign up: https://californiacyclepath.com/

Puppet Fun at the Sharpsburg Library-
Maker Monday Puppet-Making Extravaganza! Ages 5 and up on Monday March 18 at 4:30pm
Preschool Hands-On STEAM Storytime with puppet fun on Thursday March 21 10:00am
STEAM Play program featuring puppet-making and stories onSaturday March 23 1:00 am-1:00 pm

Comedy Night at J. Hicks on the Square– Ventriloquist Bob Rumba will be featured on Saturday, March 30 at 7:30 PM. For tickets call 724-622-1401.

Want to make your OWN celebration of World Puppetry Day? Using just a library card YOU can check a giant puppet out of the Braddock Carnegie Library and go celebrate as you see fit. Don’t forget to tag your puppet fun with #puppets4pgh.

Puppet Happy Hour This free, public event will feature puppet fun and games hosted by guild president Dave English as well as improvisational performances by guild members and puppet enthusiasts. Upstairs at The Brillobox,  4104 Penn Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224.

Display at Pittsburgh City-County Building

For the Month of March, coinciding with Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry on March 21st, the guild will have an interactive display at the City-County Building. The project is sponsored by the Mayor’s Office. Below are some pics. Stay tuned for our upcoming newsletter and information on Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry.

Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh at city Hall

Stage by Alison Babusci. Puppets by Dave English and Joan Kielar.

pgop city hall 4.jpg


Hand puppet by Cheryl Capezzuti.


The City’s dog-in-residence, River, by Kristen Sarver.


A rod puppet by Tom Sarver. Guess what TV news celebrity this is?


Meeting Announcement!

The Puppetry Guild of Pittsburgh will hold its first meeting of 2019 on Wednesday, January 23rd from 7PM to 9PM at the Falk Lab School in Oakland (4060 Allequippa Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15261).

All are welcome to attend. We are always seeking new members. Professional puppeteers, educators and puppetry enthusiasts alike are welcome.

If you would like, bring a puppet to share for a PUPPET SHOW AND TELL activity.

Also on the agenda are:

  1. Electing new officers for 2019.
  2. Reviewing our 2018 successes.
  3. Planning for the March 21st National Day of Puppetry / Pittsburgh Day of Puppetry.
  4. Planning / Setting our 2019 schedule.


Felicia Cooper presents Porto Domi at New Hazlett Theater


Presented by New Hazlett as part of the Community Supported Art Performance Series

Thursday & Friday, December 6-7, Doors Open: 7PM, Show Begins: 8PM


This heartfelt, silly, and imaginative all-ages puppet show follows a young girl and her best friend, a garden snail, on a bus ride to find the meaning of home with the people they meet. Using large-scale marionettes, projection, shadow puppetry, and dance, Porto Domi explores adapting to unexpected situations and the joy of finding new friends.

A puppeteer, dancer, actor, educator, and maker. Felicia’s work is primarily centered around movement and gesture as a language for expression and the illustration of a human compulsion to find order in chaos through narrative complexities. She has completed artistic residencies with folkLAB, Bread & Puppet Theater, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pearl Arts Studios, and has been the recipient of a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Garage parking is available for $7 cash only

For more information on accessible seating or assistive listening devices please contact the New Hazlett Theater at 412-320-4610 or info@newhazletttheater.org