American teaching laboratory for contemporary puppetry and performing objects, a Center within the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in Valencia, Los Angeles County, United States. The Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts was founded in 1998. In 2012, the Center’s courses and focus on puppetry were folded into the overall curriculum of the CalArts School of Theater, where puppet and object theatre remain an important focus and a critical interdisciplinary presence within the Institute.
CalArts, situated 30 miles (50 kilometres) from Los Angeles, was founded as an art school generously supported by Walt and Roy O. Disney in 1961. By 1971, the school offered degrees in art, dance, film (animation), and theatre. Housed in the School of Theater, the puppetry program was established in 1998 with the goal of making the most creative developments in contemporary puppetry available to the students across the Institute’s six schools.
The Cotsen Center for Puppetry and the Arts was created to offer a framework for practical training, artistic innovation, aesthetic inquiry and interdisciplinary investigation. In keeping with the evolution of puppetry through the integration of different art forms, CalArts strives to combine puppet theatre with the use of new technologies and emerging forms and practices that cut across traditional boundaries. These principles continue in the newly integrated puppetry courses, which are open to all students from across the Institute. Students can take a single course as an elective, or a series of courses, creating a focus in puppetry, which includes opportunities to create and produce original work.
Janie Geiser was the founding director of the Cotsen Center, and continues on the faculty of the CalArts School of Theater. Guest artists and lecturers have included Roman Paska who directed a production of Tom Thumb in 1998, Lee Breuer, Basil Twist, Jane Henson, Paul Zaloom, Larry Reed, Michael Sommers, Peter Schumann, Ken Jacobs, Nancy Andrews, Jonathan Rosen, Susan Simpson, and Dan Hurlin.
Janie Geiser’s production, Ether Telegrams (1999), created at CalArts, was presented at Arts at St. Ann’s (Brooklyn, New York). The Cotsen Center has also presented numerous productions on campus and, more recently, at REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater) in downtown Los Angeles, featuring student performers, designers, managers and technicians, often in collaboration with professional artists.
(See United States of America.)