July 18, 2011

Kevin Clash and Elmo

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Puppeteer and voice actor Kevin Clash, who for more than 28 years has built a worldwide audience for such Sesame Street characters as Elmo, will give a talk Tuesday, Oct. 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center at Bucknell.

The event will be a question-and-answer session with the audience and will include an appearance by Elmo, followed by a book signing. Attendees are invited to bring an Elmo book for Clash to sign; Elmo books also will be available for purchase at the Weis Center. The event is free and open to the public, and children are welcome to attend.

Meet-and-greet at Bookstore
Prior to his talk, Clash will participate in a meet-and-greet with the community at the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore on Market Street in Lewisburg. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 5 to 5:45 p.m. in the Bookstore.

'Being Elmo' documentary
In conjunction with Clash's talk, the documentary "Being Elmo" will be shown Saturday, Oct. 22, at noon in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center; and Monday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center. All showings are free and open to the public. The film, which received the Special Jury Prize for a Documentary in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, opens in limited release today in Los Angeles. || Related link: "Being Elmo" video

"Kevin Clash has pursued his dream since he was a child himself," said Margot Vigeant, associate professor of chemical engineering and a member of the Bucknell Forum Task Force.

"Clash is the creative force behind the most widely recognized puppet in the world. His work on- and off-screen seeks to cultivate learning in the broadest possible sense among the broadest possible audience — from toddlers learning the alphabet to whole families coping with a parent's military deployment. It will be exciting to hear his perspective on how this creative work happens."

A young puppeteer
The senior puppet coordinator and muppet captain for Sesame Street as well as senior creative consultant with Sesame Workshop, Clash began building puppets at the age of 10. As a high school junior, he put on a puppet show for a history assignment on Russia, a performance which was presented to the entire school and featured in The News American. The publicity led to a show every Sunday at Baltimore's harbor front and a job on a local children's television show, "Professor Kool."

Following the success of "Professor Kool," Clash was asked to join the "Captain Kangaroo" show by Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo himself. He also worked as a puppeteer with "The Great Space Coaster."

Learning from Elmo
Clash came to "Sesame Street" in 1980 after attracting the attention of Muppet designer Kermit Love. He began performing Elmo in 1985. Clash has won nine Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series for his work as Elmo, and also won every year from 2001-08 and in 2010 for his work as co-executive producer of "Sesame Street."

Clash's film credits include Jim Henson's 1986 fantasy film "Labyrinth," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" I and II, "Muppet Treasure Island," "Muppets from Space" and "Elmo in Grouchland." He was co-executive producer for "Elmopalooza," "CinderElmo" and "Elmo's World" and co-producer for "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland."

Clash directed and co-produced the DVD series "Sesame Beginnings" for Sesame Workshop. He directed and was co-producer for Sesame Workshop's outreach DVD "Talk, Listen, Connect: Deployments, Homecomings and Changes."

His most recent work includes directing and appearing in "Talk, Listen, Connect: When Families Grieve." He also directed the Muppet segments of the PBS primetime special, "Families Stand Together: Feeling Secure in Tough Times."

The actor has said that the theatrical dimensions of puppetry often aren't well understood by the entertainment industry. "Voice actors and puppeteers must put all their characters' emotions into their voices and the movements of the puppets," he said, "while straight actors can convey emotions through their facial expressions and body language."

In September 2006, he released his autobiography, My Life as a Furry Red Monster: What Elmo Has Taught Me About Life, Love, and Laughing Out Loud.

The Bucknell Forum
The "Creativity: Beyond the Box" Bucknell Forum series began in fall 2009 and continues through spring 2012. Speakers in the series have included famed choreographer and author Twyla Tharp, award-winning MIT architect and designer Neri Oxman, innovative visual communicator and author Dan Roam, civil-rights activist and "songtalker" Bernice Johnson Reagon, renowned Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat, and theoretical physicist and author Brian Greene.

Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist, will speak Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Acclaimed recording artist, performer and philanthropist John Legend, who has won nine Grammy awards and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people, will speak and perform Tuesday, Jan. 24.

The "Creativity: Beyond the Box" series task force comprises faculty members Carmen Gillespie, Beth Capaldi Evans, Paula Davis, Joe Tranquillo, Margot Vigeant and Zhiqun Zhu; students Michael Davis, Class of '13, and Lindsay Machen, Class of '11; and administrators Kari Conrad, Rob Springall and Pete Mackey, chair.

Since 2007, the Bucknell Forum speakers series has featured nationally renowned leaders, scholars and commentators who have examined various issues from multi-disciplinary perspectives and a diversity of viewpoints. || Previous series events

Contact: Division of Communications

 

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