Gary Jones is slightly offended when people refer to The YUPPETS as the MUPPETS. He understands however, that this confusion results because a general knowledge of puppetry in the US is non-existent or highly distorted. Jones coined his term both as a nod to Jim Henson’s spectacular venture and a response to advice that his vision would be handicapped with its legal name, The Blackstreet USA Puppet Theatre. In Hollywood he was advised to add white characters to his cast if he wanted success.
In his book “Those Ugly Puppets” a lavish photo bio of his theatre; Jones relates the story of a critic accusing him of humiliating white puppets in his tale of greed entitled “Paper Membrane”. The spectacle of sex involving a white female puppet manipulated by Jones’ black hands! Gee…..its only a piece of wood.
Yet even though the popular moniker The YUPPETS sticks it does not silence the disturbance Jones senses when some people encounter his in your face three foot black actors, dancers, and real life rebels for the first time. Jones is very clear that an audience is usually unprepared to be affected by something which historically has been invested with little influence with adults. Without shame he exploits it. Perhaps they would be more comfortable attending one of his matinees that he fills with the wide repertoire he has authored especially for children. It can take years or just a few months to create one puppet and there is always ten or more in progress.
The dazzling array of materials on his work table, stacked against the wall, or hanging from the ceiling announce that his hands are always in motion. The smells of glue, paint, lubricants, and sawdust insure that his fingernails are sometimes grimy. The buzz of the band saw, the jigsaw, the drill, and the bang of the hammer affirm that a brand new baby will soon emerge from his hands. One by one by one and mostly black!
It's easy to book the Yuppets. Just contact us. After consideration of all circumstances, performance fees for local, national and international engagements will be discussed by telephone and then confirmed by either mail or fax. Call us and let's talk soon. Please, however, make sure you talk to Gary and not to one of the Yuppets!
History and Achievements
Selected Performance History
Siempre Unidos Project, San Pedro Sula, Honduras 2005
The Apejay Schools, New Delhi, India 2004
The International Heart Expo, Takamatsu, Japan 2004
The Art Institute of Chicago
Iceland, Holland, Germany, & Portugal: U.S. Dept. of Defense
The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California
Los Angeles Unified School District
The Writer’s Guild of America, Los Angeles
The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis
St. Louis Black Repertory Company, St. Louis Mo.
IBM Corporation National Headquarters
Southern California Edison Corporation
Madame C. J. Walker Theatre Center, Indianapolis
The University of Minnesota
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
Kent State University
Mexican Cultural Institute, Los Angeles
Seven Stages Theatre, Atlanta Georgia
Headstart, Los Angeles, New Jersey
The University of Chicago
KCET-TV, Los Angeles
Minneapolis School District
Southwest Museum, Los Angeles
The University of Michigan
Orange School District, New Jersey
The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Los Angeles Public Library
Arts & Children’s Project, LA Theatre Works, Venice California
Edelman’s Children’s Court, Los Angeles County
The Crystal Castle Award jointly bestowed by The Walt Disney Corporation and KJLH Radio of Los Angeles 3/8/97; Grant Recipient, LA Arts Recovery Program 1992; Step Up Program, Southern California Edison Corporation 1990-1994; Creator of “It’s Your Thang, Do What’s Best For You”, an AIDS-HIV Awareness Program presented in the Los Angeles and Compton Unified School Districts 1989-1994; Grant Recipient, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs 1990; Artist-in-Residence, California Arts Council 1988; Brody Arts Fund Fellowship Award 1987; Smithsonian Institution Performance Residencies, Washington D.C. 4 weeks 1980 and 5 weeks 1982; Who’s Who in Black America 1979 to present; United States Department of Defense Tour, 3 months, Iceland, Holland, Germany, & Portugal; Workshops with incarcerated youth 12-18 years under jurisdiction of Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice System through grants administered by Los Angeles Theatre Works 1989-1995.