Contributing to the world of make believe is what Michael Bush enjoys most about his extraordinary career as a puppet artist at Puppet Heap, a design, fabrication, and production company in Hoboken, New Jersey. Most recently, he helped build puppets for the movie “Muppets Most Wanted” and the Imagine Dragons video “Radioactive.”
“In addition to building some of the puppets, I also had the pleasure to be hired as a puppeteer on that video,” said Bush. “I played Gorigula, the purple, thug gorilla-like monster. It was great fun!”
Over the past five years, Bush has built over 100 puppets for Puppet Heap’s client projects as well as all Muppet film productions and television/web appearances. He also continues to do freelance puppet building, on-set wrangling and puppeteering for various tv, film, web, and theater projects.
“I chose to go into puppetry because I’ve always liked drawing, sculpting, making and pretending to be different creatures,” said Bush. “You create something that has a completely separate existence from yourself in the hands of a performer. Your work gets to go on and have a life beyond you. I enjoy puppetry because the challenges are different every day. One day you have to figure out how to build a giant sea monster, the next day you’re putting eyelashes on a pig.
“I’m very happy to be at Puppet Heap as a puppet builder and as their foam latex castings specialist.
"I was easily equipped to handle my position due to my training and classes at CCS."
“The puppetry community is small and you end up working with nearly everyone. So maintain good relationships with your peers. They are the people who will give you the heads up when new jobs come in. And puppetry is very much a freelance occupation.
“A good puppet builder also develops a wide knowledge of materials. The crafts department really gave me a leg up in being comfortable with wood, clay, metal, fibers, glass, mixed media and power tools; each puppet has a completely different set of problems than the last. The more experiences you have to draw from, the better. It’s a lot of trial and error.”
As a puppeteer, Bush has performed in multiple productions for Connecticut Repertory Theater, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Wes Craven’s “My Soul to Take” and Puppet Heap’s production “I know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.”
In addition to puppet building and puppeteering, Bush continues to work on his theater production ICARUS, a full-stage production he originally created as part of the MFA puppetry program at the University of Connecticut. The production garnered him attention making the list of “Puppetry International’s” 40 Under 40 listing.
“ICARUS received a Jim Henson Foundation Project grant which allowed us to present a New York City Actors Equity Showcase performance in 2013,” he said. “Those overnight successes take about ten years to get up and running… Another presentation and jump in development is scheduled for sometime this year.”