Aretta Baumgartner is a performer/teaching artist specializing in puppetry, mask and movement. She’s been a professional puppeteer since 1992, and is proud to be the Education Director of the world-renowned Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA—the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the art of puppetry in the United States (www.puppet.org). Favorite puppet experiences are The Lord of the Rings stage trilogy with Ovation and Clear Stage theatre companies (for which she performed the mask role of Gollum/Smeagol and served as puppetry and movement director), The Body Speaks: Scripted at the Cincinnati Fringe Festival, Gilgamesh in Uruk: G.I. in Iraq with Performance Gallery, Three Times the Tale with New Edgecliff Theatre, The Rocky Horror Puppet Show with The Basement Theatre, and Xperimental Puppetry Theater (XPT) at the Center for Puppetry Arts (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015). Learning to Fly (Tandem Theatre), a production for which she serves as puppet director and lead puppeteer, was selected for inclusion in the Les Sages Fous Micro-Festival of Unfinished Puppetry in Troi-Rivieres, QC, Canada in 2014. She’s worked as a special projects puppeteer with The Puppet People, The Object Theatre and Ninja Puppet Productions, and toured extensively with Madcap Productions Puppet Theatre and Voyageur Puppets (as well as with her own puppet theatre company, ImagineNation). She’s puppeteered in numerous productions of Little Shop of Horrors, and puppet coached/directed many versions of Avenue Q and The Long Christmas Ride Home. Aretta has performed and taught all over the United States, and in Australia, Bahrain, Bulgaria, Canada and Honduras as well. Along with her teaching and performing career, Baumgartner has served as the Great Lakes Regional Director of and on numerous committees for the Puppeteers of America—and was recently elected to serve a 3-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Puppeteers of America. Aretta could not be happier to return to her puppet home base, Madcap Puppets, for special projects—it’s where she fell in love with puppetry, and where she’ll always be delighted and honored to come work with her original puppet family.