Artistic Leadership Team
In the Heart of the Beast is a community of many voices and skills. Our Artistic Leadership Team holds the vision for the flourishing of our mission and sustainable future. Meet the Artistic Leadership Team:
Steve Ackerman is a playwright and puppet artist who focuses on quick, crude, high-energy art making. He has his BFA in Acting from East Carolina University and MFA in Playwriting from Southern Illinois University. Previous projects include Action Sequence, Kaboom, which Ackerman co-directed at Bedlam alongside Maren Ward, Cartooon!, which began as part of In the Heart of the Beast Theatre’s (HOBT) Puppet Lab Program in 2013, was expanded to a full length show at HOBT the following year, and traveled to the 2015 International Puppet Festival in Chicago.
Bart Buch has been creating, directing, designing, performing and teaching puppetry for 20 years. He has a BA in English from Valparaiso University and a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Iowa. Bart has trained in puppetry and theatre with Eric Bass of Sandglass Theatre, Basil Twist of Dream Music Puppetry Program, Micheal Rohd of Sojourn Theatre, Sandy Spieler of In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Michael Sommers of Open Eye Theatre, and Great Small Works. He has taught over 200 school and community arts residencies and created many youth puppetry programs as a teaching artist, independently and for In the Heart of the Beast. In his own art, he focuses on interpreting poetry into puppetry arts performances (called puppet poems) and seeks to convey poetry through evocative puppet movement, visual imagery, few spoken words, and an enveloping musical language. Bart's work has been seen at Intermedia Arts, HERE Arts Center, The Right Here Showcase, The Chicago International Puppet Festival, and Powderhorn Park. He was recently named a 2017-18 McKnight Theatre Artist Fellow. Last year, Bart premiered Make Believe Neighborhood, inspired by Fred Rogers and the "helpers" of the Phillips Neighborhood in Minneapolis. His website is bartbuch.com.
Alison Heimstead is a director and designer of puppet theater –ranging from large spectacles to intimate performances. Her work has been seen at: La MaMa, Brooklyn Academy of Music, St Ann’s Warehouse, Open Eye Figure Theater, Great Small Works –Toy Theater Festival, Museum of Jurassic Technology and many other locations. She has worked on puppet spectacles all over the country, including co-founding Barebones Productions. Alison carries an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in puppetry and theater design where she was a Jacob Javits Scholar. She has studied puppetry with: Paul Zaloom, Dan Hurlin, Janie Geiser, Sandy Spieler, and Bread and Puppet Theater.
Sandy Spieler‘s work includes tiny suitcase shows, main stage productions, public art commissions, streetscape designs, residencies/collaborations with communities, schools and universities, and 30 years of work about Water. She’s one of the founders of In the Heart of the Beast Theatre and Mayday. She currently wonders what it means to enact a “theatre of inter-being.”
Sandy holds an MA of Cultural Performance from Bristol University England, studied puppetry arts at Bread and Puppet Theater and at NYU. She’s grateful for supportive awards over the years including two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence and the 2014 “Distinguished Artist of the Year” from the McKnight Foundation. Her website is sandyspieler.com
Corrie Zoll became HOBT’s Executive Director in 2015. Corrie has more than 20 years of experience in arts and nonprofit management as an artist, program director, development professional, community organizer, board member and organizational leader. Most recently, he served as Pillsbury House + Theatre’s Development Manager. He also served on the Curriculum Development Team for ArtsLab (Arts Midwest) and on the Pillsbury House + Theatre Creative Community Development Leadership Team. He has an MA in Arts and Cultural Management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and a BA in Theater from Grinnell College in Iowa.