Handspring Puppet Company to Chicago and introduce them to a number of Chicago artists. We did four of these lunches last year and this is our first of this year but they are really great for opening up dialogue and making friends with artists who are working on the other side of the world (Handspring is from South Africa). There was such a wonderful feeling of love and understanding in the room. We were actually allowed to go onstage and examine the puppets, which are extraordinary. When artists are all together in a room there is a wonderful feeling of love and understanding. I think theatre artists have a very special understanding of each other, a bond, even if they’ve never met before. Hearing the artists from Chicago and the artists of Handspring talk about the work and about how they came to see puppetry as essential to their work was a joy for me (turns out puppetry is something you most often fall into, not something you seek out), and hearing the artists from Handspring refer to puppetry in South Africa, half-jokingly, as the new rock and roll (Handspring is the company that created the puppets for WAR HORSE) reminded me that while we are all incredibly serious about this work we all have that ability to not take ourselves too seriously. They told us about the OUT THE BOX Festival in Cape Town – one of the largest puppetry festivals in the world where they don’t believe they have never seen an American company. What? Maybe some Chicago companies will apply in 2013.