National Puppet Slam hits Atlanta with gay-themed fair

Ultimately, Jeremy’s mother must devise a way for him to still give his card and not hurt his feelings but make it palatable within the confines of his classroom.

“Jeremy’s Big Heart” is the only show by an Atlantan in the project.


National Puppet Slam
Aug, 3 – 4
Center For Puppetry Arts
1404 Spring St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30309


According to Van Laningham, Jeremy is a character he has used previously in a few other shows. The character isn’t necessarily autobiographical, although there are some parallels and Van Laningham envies some of his characteristics.

“I wish I had the character’s self-awareness at that early of an age,” Van Laningham says.

Relationships tend to play a central theme in his work. The puppeteer also uses gay themes, although not in every piece. Next month, for instance, he will debut a piece at Dragon*con about a woman who is in a relationship with a robot.

His first participation in a slam came unexpectedly. He got his start when a friend asked him to fill in for someone else on a project. He agreed, worked at breakneck pace to get ready, won an award, and was hooked. He has been in theater most all his life and says that the puppet world is very accepting of gay-themed artists.

Beau Brown, the curator for the Slam and the Center’s community coordinator, feels “Jeremy’s Big Heart” fits in well with the other nine pieces.

“It’s sweet, it’s innocent and very powerful,” he says. “We showed it as part of a Valentine’s Day event and there was a very emotional response from the audience.”