American puppeteer, director and teacher. Eric Bass began working with puppets while studying theatre at Middlebury College, Vermont. He worked for a touring puppet company in 1970 and for a time he was a street performer exploring the traditional Kasperle theatre. Between 1975 and 1979, he worked with Jean Erdman’s Open Eye Theatre in New York. Joseph Campbell, advisor to the theatre and noted expert on mythology, was a major influence on Eric Bass. With the creation of Autumn Portraits (1980), Bass emerged as a major artist, winning awards in the United States, Hungary and Australia.
In Munich in 1982, Eric Bass and Ines Zeller formed the Sandglass Theater. In 1986, Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass moved to Putney, Vermont. Six Sandglass productions earned UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence: Autumn Portraits (1980), Sand (1985), Invitations to Heaven (1986), The Village Child (1993), Never Been Anywhere (1996), and Isidor’s Cheek (1997), performed by Ines Zeller Bass, directed by Eric Bass.
Eric Bass directed Bertolt Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle (1996) for the New York Henson Festival. Also in 1996, Sandglass opened a 60-seat theatre in Putney, Vermont, which regularly brings international artists to this small rural town. Sandglass began the Puppets in the Green Mountain International Festival in 1997, and have presented international artists from more than 18 countries. In 2001, Eric founded an annual three-week intensive training workshop in puppet theatre affiliated with Marlboro College Summer Theatre Institute.
Recent work includes: The Pig Act (2000), One Way Street (2001), Between Sand and Stars (2003), The Story of the Dog (in collaboration with Sovanna Phum, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 2005), Richard 3.5: Light Ruminations on Murder (2006), All Weather Ballads: A Love Story, D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks. Among the artists of Sandglass include award-winning puppeteers, David Regan, Finn Campman, and Barbara Whitney.
Eric Bass is recognized as a leading creator of serious adult puppet theatre. His company has toured 24 countries performing in theatres and festivals. His work is intentionally challenging to the intellect and the emotions. Often visible on stage, he endows his characters with strong, precise movements, and yet the visual impression is dream-like and open to interpretation. By intertwining the use of masks, tabletop rod puppets and a combination of the two, his production, Autumn Portraits, concentrates on the relationship between puppeteer and his puppets.
Eric Bass is author of “Some Thoughts on the Subject of Educational Theater” (Puppetry Journal, Vol. 43, No. 2).
(See United States of America.)
- Bass, Eric. “Some Thoughts on the Subject of Educational Theater”. Puppetry Journal. Vol. 43, No. 2, Winter 1991.
- Gussow, Mel. “Theater: Two Strikingly Visual Shows”. New York Times, 22 Nov. 1981.
- Latshaw, George. “The Village Child”. Puppetry Journal. Vol. 44, No. 4, Summer 1993.
- Periale, Andrew, ed. Sandglass Theater: From Thought to Image, 20 Years in Vermont. Putney (VT): Sandglass Theater, 2006.