artist residency, theater, puppetry, ceramics



Janie Geiser (CalArts) is an internationally recognized visual/theater artist and filmmaker, whose work is known for its sense of mystery, its detailed evocation of self-contained worlds, and its strength of design. Geiser has made a significant contribution to the field of contemporary puppet theater for two decades through her innovative multi-media performances.  Her films are ”as extravagantly beautiful as they are difficult, and as allusive as they are elusive” (Cinemascope, Spring 2001). Geiser’s films have been screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and at numerous festivals, including the  New York Film Festival,  Toronto Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Geiser’s performance works have been presented at Arts at St Ann's, The Public Theater, The Walker Art Center, Dance Theater Workshop, PS 122, MOCA, Redcat, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and the Velaslavasay Panorama. She has been recognized with an Obie and a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as funding from the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Henson Foundation, Creative Capital, Pew/TCG, and others.   Her collaboration with Vic Chesnutt, Josiah Meigs and Me, was presented at Arts at St. Ann's in 2001, and Invisible Glass, Geiser's collaboration with Erik Ehn and Tom Recchion, premiered at REDCAT in 2005. She designed puppets for Jessica Yu's recently released documentary Protagonist. She is a recipient of a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship for her film Magnetic Sleep, which will premiere in Los Angeles in early 2008.  She is a Co-Director of Automata, a Los Angeles nonprofit.  Geiser is the director of the Cotsen Center at CalArts.

Dan Hurlin (Sarah Lawrence College) received a 1990 Village Voice OBIE award for his solo adaptation of Nathanael West's “A COOL MILLION,” and in 1998, he was nominated for an American Theater Wing Design award for his set design for his music theater piece “THE SHOULDER.” His suite of puppet pieces “EVERYDAY USES FOR SIGHT: Nos. 3 & 7” (2000) earned him a 2001 New York Dance and Performance award (a.k.a. “BESSIE”), and his most recent piece “HIROSHIMA MAIDEN,” was given an OBIE award for music by Robert Een, and received a UNIMA-USA Citation for Excellence. Other performance works include “THE JAZZ SECTION” (1989); “CONSTANCE AND FERDINAND” (1991); “QUINTLAND,” (1992);  “NO(thing so powerful as) TRUTH,” (1995) about Manchester Union Leader publisher William Loeb; and his toy theater piece “THE DAY THE KETCHUP TURNED BLUE” (1997). Formerly the Artistic Director of Andy’s Summer Playhouse in Wilton, Dan currently teaches performance art, dance and puppetry at Sarah Lawrence College. In addition to three fellowships from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, Dan has received individual artist fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Creative Capital and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Dan is the recipient of the 2004 Alpert Award in the Arts for theater.

Manuel Lutgenhorst (Artistic Director of Empty Space Arts Center) was born in Munich in 1948. In 1968 he began to work in Germany as a set, costume and lighting designer for theatre. 1978 he moved to New York and continued, including directing, writing, producing off Broadway. 1984 he started to explore Asian theatre, the intercultural world, lived in Bali where he build and created ARTHOUSE BONA with the support of international artists friends 1999. This House is now a Balinese dance school for villagers.  He welcomed the opportunity to build ESC in 1998. Manuel still works as a production designer internationally.


Susan Simpson (CalArts) is an experimental theater artist and filmmaker. Her work often involves intricate marionettes and unusual film projection. Her puppet plays have been presented in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles including numerous times at The Museum of Jurassic Technology, and The Velaslavasay Panorama. She is on the faculty of the CalArts School of Theater. A Co-Director of Automata, Simpson is also a founding  member of a performance collective known as The Little Fakers, creators of the marionette serial, Sunset Chronicles, which has appeared at venues across Los Angeles for the past four years. Her most recent film Boll Weevil Days was shown at film festivals nationally and internationally including The Rotterdam International Film Festival. She has received grants from the Durfee Foundation, The California Community Foundation, Creative Capital, Multi-Arts Production Fund and is the 2002 recipient Center Theater Group’s Richard E. Sherwood Award. In 2007, under the auspices of Automata, Simpson opened The Manual Archives, a micro marionette theater and exhibition space devoted to the presentation of newly discovered and invented folklore of Los Angeles. In June,at The Manual Archives Simpson premiered the multi media marionette play Lead Feet and Nothing Upstairs: The History of the Lifelike,  described as a postmodern creation myth for the city of Los Angeles.

Amy Trompetter (Barnard College) builds, directs and performs giant puppet operas, outdoor pageants, indoor spectacles, and hand-puppet shows.  Recent credits include directing and designing A Requiem for Anna Politkovskaya, Union Theological Seminary, NYC, ’07, The Barber of Seville puppet opera with Absolute Ensemble in St. Poulten, Austria, ’07 and St. Ann’s Warehouse ’03, Vaclav Havel’s The Beggar’s Opera, Miller Theater, NYC, ’06.  She and fellow puppeteers are creating a hand puppet ‘franchise’ based on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.  She led communities in making giant puppet pageants in Italy, France, England, Nicaragua, Mexico, Japan, China, Botswana, and Bangladesh.  She teaches with the Bard Prison Initiative and is a Senior Lecturer, heading the World Theatre Program at Barnard College, Columbia University.  She lives in Rosendale, NY where she founded a performance space for Blackbird Theater (

Guest lecturer and translator

Vilawan Svetsreni 

Assistant Professor or

Vilawan Svetsreni (Assistant Professor) is a full-time lecturer in Drama and Puppetry at the Thai Art Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Graduated (MPhil.) from the University of London (SOAS),UK., her expertise is in the field of Drama and Asian Puppetry. Apart from her teaching duties in Western Theatre and Drama, The Art of Asian Puppetry and Puppets for Education, her main focus, over the past fifteen years, is the unique

adaptation of Thai folk puppetry with the emphasis on collaborative arts.

Vilawan is also Head and artistic Director of the Chiang Mai HH Puppet Troupe Chiang Ma, and just recently won  the Excellent Director Award and  the Silver Award for the puppet performance of Apsara (Apsornsawan-Hun Krabok Lanna) from the International Marionette Festival Hanoi 2008, Vietnam February 2008.

Vilawan various spells abroad include being a researcher and resident-artist

of UNESCO-ASHBERG Fund at the International Institute de la Marionnette,

Charleville-Meziere, France, a research fellow of ASEA-UNINET Grant at The

Stage Design Institute 11, KUG, Graz, Austria and UMAP Grant at the Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan on Japanese Puppetry and Noh Theatre.

She also used to serve as a Deputy Director for Foreign Affairs and Special

Activities for The Center for the Promotion of Arts and Culture, Chiang Mai

University from 2003-2006.

Asian Faculty Biographies

for first year program June 2009


Mrs. Korakot Mongkolsilp, 52 years old (1956) graduated the bachelor degree from Rajabhut Thonburi University. She is now working for Rajinibon School as a Teacher of school work and technology.

Mrs.Korakot has started to play the Hun Krabok since she was 10 years old. She said that Mr.Boonrod, her uncle, taught her every day after school. Her first time on stage was when 13 years old at the Prachuabkirikhun province with the play of Luksanawong story. Mrs.Korakot presently focuses on the performance for education purposes.

Rodsiri Thai Puppet Troupe are currently making the show on special occasions and per request at many places such as Thailand Cultural Center, Thai Traditional Performance Center, schools, and universities.

Rodsiri Thai Traditional Puppet Show

Rodsiri Thai Traditional Puppet Show or Hun Krabok (a type of puppetry) Troupe was established by Mr.Boonrod Prakobnin. He used to be an gliding artisan for the Thai temple. With his basic skill of Thai traditional dance, he was easily taught to perform the Hun Krabok by Ms.Wah Prasertkul, the daughter of one famous puppeteer. To perform the Hun Krabok, the pupeteer has to move the body as if  dancing while holding the puppet and dubbing for each figure. Then he had perform his own troupe called ‘Rodsiri Ninlasin Thai Puppet Troupe’.

Rodsiri Thai Puppet Troupe used to held the show professionally at many provinces and was invited to perform at the World Expo 1992 at Spain.

After he had passed away, his niece, Mrs.Korakot Mongkolsilp is descending the troupe to maintain the Thai traditional puppet show continually.

She will bring another puppeteer with her.

Maybe add


Sakorn Yangkhiawsod, (more widely known as Joe Louis), the founder of the Hun Lakhon Lek Joe Louis Troupe, was one of Thailand's top puppet masters and the country's last 'Grand Master' of small puppet performers.

The puppet master made his first puppet when he was 20, and over the years, crafted a fine collection of 50 traditional Thai puppets, both large and small. In 1996, in recognition of his efforts to revive traditional Thai puppetry and preserve this ancient art making it an important showcase of Thai cultural heritage, Sakorn Yangkhiawsod was consecrated "National Artist".

The Joe Louis troupe remains Thailand's only troupe that still performs the Hun Lakhon Lek Thai traditional small puppet play and remains the sole guardian of this dying art form.

The Heart of Hun Lakhon Lek

Joe Louis' creation of the ancient Siamese small puppet performance is unique. The soul and spirit of the performance comes directly from the puppeteer.

The Joe Louis puppet play requires the synchronized efforts of three puppeteers who jointly control and manipulate the one puppet creating highly animated, life-like movements. This enables the puppet to move or dance gracefully. Unlike any other Thai traditional puppet play, the Joe Louis puppets are able to mimic a range of human gestures and through these gestures, express emotion. For example, the puppets are able to move their wrists to 'wai' (a greeting gesture in Thai culture), or embrace (to show affection), point their fingers or clap, shake their heads or nod. The elegant movements of the puppet flow entirely from each motion made by the puppeteer.

Hun Lakhon Lek is a collaboration of many art forms

Hadtasin -- the crafting of puppets

Phraneedsin -- the costume of the puppet

Nadtasin -- the operation of the puppet movements

Ketatsin -- the music

Mantanasin -- the stage set and backdrop

Hadtasin -- "To give life"

As the Hun Lakon Lek is based on Khon – the classical Thai masked dance, a highly sophisticated and stylised form of stage entertainment that features dancing, singing and music that is comparable in complexity with the European opera-ballet of the 18th century court at Versailles. Hence in order to stage the performance,puppeteers need to have an intimate knowledge and training in Khon.

The Hun Lakon Lek is based on Khon – the classical Thai masked dance, puppeteers need to have an intimate knowledge and training in khon.

The puppets and the ornate masks used in the performances are handmade and reflect the ultimate sophistication in Thai craftsmanship. Puppet-making is a painstaking art that requires close attention to many intricate details such as the features of the mask, the painting of the faces, the elaborate design and motifs of the costumes and working with precious gold leaves to achieve a perfect finish.

Tragically all of Joe Louis' puppets, except for one, were destroyed in a fire that engulfed his home. However with his deep love he for the craft, the puppet master found the emotional strength to continue his life's work. He gradually replaced the puppets lost in the flames with the help of family members as well as those interested in puppet making. His new collection now consists of 12 puppets primarily featuring the characters from the Ramayana epic such as Rama, Sita, the god Siva, Hanuman and Pali.

Keeping the Artistic Heritage Alive For Future Generations

The performing arts has been a part of Joe Louis soul and spirit during his entire lifetime. He devoted his life to the art form -- from crafting each of the puppets, to performing and directing. He has passed on his wealth of knowledge and experiences in the Thai theatrical arts and stage drama – Khon, Lakhon, Likay, and Hun Lakorn Lek, to his nine sons and daughters right from their childhood days.

Today, in the loving memory of Joe Louis – “The bringer of life to Hun Lakorn Lek”, Surin Yangkeawsot, his seventh child, is working to promote the preservation and study of Hun Lakhon Lek for future generations. Surin Yangkeawsot has inherited the Puppet Theatre as well as the important responsibility of passing on this knowledge to the next generation. The craft is now being passed on to 10 grandchildren.


U Kyaw Myint, a traditional Puppet maker at Yangoon Cultural University, supplying young puppeteers and students with the puppets they need. He lives with his family in the university compound.

His daughter Aye Aye Thein is a professional puppeteer who just recently won the first prize in puppet manipulation. Recently he was invited to Japan to demonstrate the art of puppet making.

Dr. Tin Maung Kyi, puppeteer, lecturer and translator,

contact us for more information, interesting projects, collaboration possibilities or references at

Oraphan Lutgenhorst ,169 Moo, Ban Nongha, Nambualong, Sanpatong,  Chiangmai 12050, Thailand, Tel / Fax:, +66-53-836094, mobile +66-089-045-8585