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Artist of the Month: Adam Swartz teaches entertaining life lessons through his puppetry

by on August 31, 2018 2:54 PM

Adam Swartz is living a dream many fail to achieve. He didn't have to really grow up.

As a puppeteer for his company, Adam Swartz Puppets, Swartz has taken a youth mindset into the "grown-up" world, creating a successful venture that reaches out to children across the area.

"Back when I was 9 years old, I didn't want to grow up," Swartz says. "Everyone has the Peter Pan Syndrome. I thought if I had to pretend to be a grown-up, I could at least continue to play with toys and get a job as a puppeteer."

Raised in the area, Swartz earned his degree in integrative arts from Penn State. With his puppeteering, Swartz's goals were simple: to simultaneously educate and entertain audiences from all walks of life.

"I was a big Jim Henson fan from The Muppets, and this struck me as an ideal job," Swartz says.

After his graduation, Swartz left to travel the United States, working on his storytelling and puppetry crafts. He collaborated on projects with such companies as Middle Earth Studios, the Itinerant Theater Company, and Next Stage, showcasing his talent and passion for the art form. Beyond traditional puppets, Swartz also worked with marionettes during his time with Middle Earth.

On his journey, Swartz successfully auditioned to work with the legendary Sesame Workshop, an experience that lit a creative fire under the young puppeteer.

"It was great," Swartz says. "It was really a kick in the pants. It was an eye-opener to see [that] this is how you do special form of puppets on TV or movies. It just inspired me to go further."

Though he appreciates the opportunities given to him by other companies, Swartz felt he needed to strike out on his own and put an imprint on the place in which he was raised. Enter his own production, Adam Swartz Puppets.

"Part of it is having a family in State College," he says. "I obviously didn't want to continue traveling a lot. Also, there are so many wonderful people here in State College that I figured I needed to give to my community where I grew up."

One of Swartz's ventures in the area is his work with the Collaborative Summer Library Program, bringing his puppet show Alice & Jimmy's Epic Rock Dream to entertain the children. The story of Alice and Jimmy centers around two dreamers facing their fears, one of the many lessons Swartz hopes to teach through his shows.

"It's being able to show people to have fun together, how to be nice, be kind, listen to each other, figure out a way to accept all of the weirdos," Swartz says.

Throughout the summer, Swartz has been committed to various children's camps and workshops. There, he passes on the theater and puppetry knowledge he has gained through the years.  

"When I grew up in State College, I went to a summer camp and it incorporated so many different things," he says. "It incorporated basic acting, puppetry, masks, miming, so many different things; they all seemed to flow together. Being inspired by growing up here, I wanted to give back."

Swartz's commitment to giving back will also extend to the fall, right in the heart of his hometown. He will be hosting an "Acting in the Attic" series of workshops at The State Theatre, focusing on not just acting and puppetry, but the intricacies that make The State Theatre a landmark in the community.

"It's really exciting, because we'll get to show kids what a real live theater is and how it operates," Swartz says.

This includes showing workshop attendees the process The State Theatre goes through on a show night, including ticket sales and ushering duties.

Through his puppet shows, Swartz is able to show why never having to really grow up is such an important accomplishment.


"Acting in the Attic: A Page-to-Stage Class in Theatre Fundamentals," will take place on Tuesdays at 3:15 p.m., beginning September 18. Swartz will also be presenting Sunday Afternoon Live puppet shows at The State Theatre on September 16, October 21, and December 2. Visit for more information and camp registration.

For more on Swartz, visit


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