When you think of puppetry, you may think of the classic examples from popular culture like Pinocchio or the Muppets. Chances are you may be less familiar with the work of Tarish Pipkins, also known as Jeghetto.
Jeghetto has been an artist most of his life, but he didn't build his first puppet until the age of 30. Since then, Jeghetto has been developing his craft and sharing it with others through his performances and workshops. One upcoming class is specifically for beginners.
The PIT Chapel Hill will host Jeghetto’s Adult Intro to Puppetry Class on Nov. 11. The class will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The intro classes occur monthly, and the next class is slated for Dec. 9.
Will Purpura, artistic director at the PIT, said the workshops were something Jeghetto approached the PIT about doing, in addition to hosting his performances.
“We are a comedy school, and we do our classes for improv, standup, sketch, but we also have rooms available for people who want to run their own classes,” Purpura said. “So Jeghetto is somebody who reached out to us. He does a variety show here once a month.”
Jeghetto said a public demand for classes and his own desire to share his passion were the reason he decided to host these monthly workshops. Jeghetto said the class on Monday will give attendees a small taste of puppetry by teaching people how to construct their own simple masks out of recycled materials.
“The intro is mask making because it's the simplest,” Jeghetto said. “As they get more advanced, I can teach them how to connect joints that actually make puppets.”
Regardless of its simplicity, Jeghetto said that there is still a lot to learn when using such simple materials, and he said he hopes that using recycled materials may influence other people’s art.
As for what he hopes the public will take from these classes, Jeghetto said he hopes to expose people to the magic of puppetry.
“I like meeting new people and just sharing my passion with people,” Jeghetto said. “And to inspire — that's what a lot of people tell me now.”
Jeghetto’s passion for puppetry is what first impressed Julie Maxwell, who has since attended one of Jeghetto’s intro classes.
“Tarish Pipkins was the featured artist at an event I attended at the the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke,” Maxwell said. “It was a fascinating introduction, and I later contacted him to make sure that I was aware of future opportunities to see his work.”
Maxwell said her interest in puppetry comes from the exposure she had as a child and from the local programming in the area, which fosters a continued interest.
“Like many people of my vintage, I grew up watching Sesame Street and the Muppets,” Maxwell said. “As an adult living in our area, I always look forward to the yearly Paperhand Puppet shows.”
Regardless, Maxwell said she believes a love of puppetry can extend to everybody.
“One of the cool things about puppetry is that it has a wide appeal,” Maxwell said. “I’m sure that everyone who sees Tarish’s creations will be amazed and delighted, and I’m happy to know that he will be in the PIT.”
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