ABOUT PAUL ZALOOM
Paul Zaloom is a comedic puppeteer, political satirist, filmmaker, and performance artist who lives and works in Los Angeles and tours his work all over the world. Zaloom has written, designed and performed 14 full length solo spectacles, including Fruit of Zaloom, Zaloominations, Sick But True, Velvetville, The Mother of All Enemies and the current spectacle, White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show.
At age 19, while still in college, Zaloom joined the Bread and Puppet Theater, the renowned, Vermont-based, avant-garde puppet company. He has continued to work with this seminal group every summer since 1972; his daughter Amanda and two granddaughters, Mabel and Sadie, have become the second and third generation of Zalooms performing in the annual circus and pageant.
In his first solo puppet piece, The World of Plastic, created in 1978, he utilized various found objects - toys, tools, appliances, packaging materials, and other assorted junk - in a hyperactive, surreal comedy about American culture. This genre of puppetry has since been named "object theater" by puppetry academics, and Zaloom is widely recognized as one of the pioneers.
In the past 36 years of solo work, Zaloom has exploited other forms of puppetry: toy theater, rod puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets, overhead projections, Bunraku-style puppets, cantastoria (story telling with pictures), hand puppets, and ventriloquism.
Zaloom has played the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Spoleto Festival USA, the American Repertory Theater, and King Tut's Wah-Wah Hut, among hundreds of venues in 40+ states. Numerous international festivals have featured his work on many tours to Europe, including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Scotland; Les Semaines de la Marionette, Paris; and the UNIMA World Congress, Dresden, DDR.
Since 1992, Zaloom has also appeared on the cult favorite, science educational TV show, Beakman's World, as Beakman, the wacked-out, weirdo scientist who answers viewers' questions about science, nature, and various bodily functions.
Zaloom tours three stage shows based on the TV program: Beakman In Person!, Beakman Live!, and Beakman on the Brain, each featuring large scale science demonstrations with loads of audience participation and lots of trademark goofy Beakman humor.
Zaloom co-conceived, co-wrote and was head puppeteer in a feature length puppet film of Dante's Inferno, based on paintings and drawings by L.A. artists Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet, directed by Sean Meredith, and starring Dermot Mulroney and James Cromwell.
Well over 500 small flat paper puppets are manipulated in an old school toy theater puppet stage, as Dante and his guide Virgil descend through Hell's nine circles of suffering.
Set in a contemporary metropolis that resembles Los Angeles, filled with apocalyptic artwork and contemporary and historical references, the film is an eerie, subversively satirical update of the literary classic. An official selection at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival, Dante was acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art in early 2014 for the permanent collection.
"Feels like the unholy offspring of Mike Judge and R. Crumb" — Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
In Smog and Thunder: the Great War of the Californias
A fake documentary in Ken Burns' style, the film depicts a fictional war between Fog Town (San Francisco) and Los Angeles (Smog Town), employing over a hundred satirical paintings by Southern California artist Sandow Birk. In a fantastic array of images that ape styles ranging from classic historical paintings to war propaganda posters, Smog depicts the marauding Angeleno army driving up the 5, bent on invasion of Fog Town, as San Franciscan troops counter-attack, negotiating their way through chronic gridlock, hideous minimarts, and porn movie sets.
Incited by envy of the Getty Center, L.A.'s flashy institution of high culture, the northern armies sack the museum while identically dressed gay men from West Hollywood lead an attack on Fog forces from the backs of their Harleys. More amusing, satirical mayhem unfolds as the elitist, new age, artsy Bohemians battle the sitcom-mongering hordes of vacuous Hollywoodians.
"Hilarious...a dead-on send-up of historical documentary a la Ken Burns." — San Jose Mercury News
Village Voice OBIE
American Theater Wing Design Award
New York Dance and Performance Award (the "Bessie")
L.A. Weekly Critics' Award
Four Citations of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry from the Union Internationale de la Marionnette, a.k.a. UNIMA-USA., and others.
Four National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships
Three Henson Foundation Grants
and grants from Art Matters, California Arts Council, New York State Council on the Arts, the Durfee, L.A. Department of Cultural Affairs, New York Foundation for the Arts, and others.