When Greg Ruhe was young becoming a professional puppeteer was not on the agenda. But 25 years later this is exactly what he does. Ruhe's puppets may not be what you expect. Yes, in his school workshops he does work with more traditional puppets, shadow puppets, etc, but the majority of Ruhe's puppetry happens inside the body of a giant costumed creation. Ruhe doesn't just control the puppets, he becomes them.
For two and a half decades Ruhe has become widely known in Houston as the man behind Puppet Pizzazz, a company that brings interactive, large-scale puppets to parties, events, galas, you name it. Wearing the body of a puppet for multiple hours at a time is hot, it's heavy and it's hard, but Ruhe loves it.
What He Does: "I am a professional puppeteer. It's hard for me to admit that without giggling a little. I play with puppets every day and have managed to make a career out of it for the last 25 years. As the creator and director of Puppet Pizzazz I produce extraordinary event entertainment and educational puppetry experiences world-wide."
Why He Does It: "Puppetry is magical. I lose my inhibitions behind my characters but the audience also lose their inhibition when dealing with a puppet. It is amazing how a party guest reacts when one of my larger than life puppet characters stroll through a special event. An adult will often respond with the unrestrained joy of child. Puppet Pizzazz entertains but we also educate. Puppetry is the perfect tool to capture the attention of students. Any subject in any grade level can be explored through the art of puppetry."
What Inspires Him: "Travel is my passion and is a great source of my artistic inspiration. My work recently took me to Sudan. I was a guest artist at the Khartoum International and Community School. Inspired by that awesome experience I created "African Tales and Puppet Pizzazz." These stories told with puppets were first performed the show as a part of the Houston Public Libraries black history celebration."
"Fellow puppeteers also inspire me. Puppet Pizzazz is friends on Facebook with over 200 professional puppeteers from around the globe. I also find inspiration from being a member of Puppeteers of America and the Greater Houston Puppetry Guild."
If Not This, Then What? "It's hard to imagine doing anything besides puppetry. I might enjoy planning events. It's another job that allows you to blend many art forms together to create a theatrical experience."
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If Not Here, Then Where? "My work takes me everywhere. I like Houston because it is so affordable and It has a nice international airport. If I needed to select another home base it would most likely be New York City. It's not so affordable but I love Broadway and the garment district. It would also be nice to be close to my family, but I don't plan on moving any time soon."
What's Next: "I am gearing up for my new summer camp, and library variety show. In my spare time I am putting together proposals for the upcoming holiday season and the Super Bowl Houston 2017 events."
More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Sophia L. Torres, founder and co-artistic director of Psophonia Dance Company Maggie Lasher, dance professor and artistic director Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre Outspoken Bean, performance poet Barry Moore, architect Josh Montoute, mobile gaming specialist Ty Doran, young actor Gwen Zepeda, Houston's first Poet Laureate Joseph Walsh, principal dancer at Houston Ballet Justin Garcia, artist Buck Ross, dilettante and director of Moores Opera Center Patrick Renner, sculptor of the abstract and the esoteric Tomas Glass, abstract artist and True Blood musician Ashley Stoker, painter, photographer and Tumblr muse Amy Llanes, artistic airector of Rednerrus Feil Dance Company Bevin Bering Dubrowski, executive director at the Houston Center for Photography Lydia Hance, founder and director of Frame Dance Productions Piyali Sen Dasgupta, mixed media artist and nature lover Dean James, New York Times bestselling mystery novelist Nicola Parente, abstract painter and photographer Cheryl Schulke, handmade leather pursemaker Anthony Rathbun, Alternative Lifestyle Photographer David Salinas, computer-less analog photographer Danielle Burns, art curator Alicia DiRago, Whimseybox founder Katia Zavistovski, contemporary art curator Ashley Horn, choreographer, filmmaker Amanda Stevens, scary book author Peter Lucas, film and video curator, music lover and self-described culture-slinger Ana María Otamendi, collaborative pianist and vocal coach Billy D. Washington, comedian Michele Brangwen, choreographer and dancer Kristin Warren, actress and choreographer Kelly Sears, animator and film maker Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer