Learning Puppetry from Martin P. Robinson at NYPL

Spencer Cohen – As mentioned in my recent article for the Mindset, the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts is having special Sesame Street programs for the public, to tie in with its brand new exhibit, “Somebody Come and Play:” 45 Years of Sesame Street Helping Kids Grow Smarter, Stronger, and Kinder.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a Muppet Master Class taught by Martin P. Robinson, which was the first of these events that took place, tieing in with the exhibit. For those who do not know, Martin P. Robinson is currently the puppeteer that performs Telly Monster, Slimey the Worm, and Mr. Snuffleupagus. The class was a fantastic experience that I will never forget!

One of my favorite parts of the class was when Marty talked about working with Jim Henson. “I learned from him, from his examples, from the kind words he said,” Marty had told us. It always is wonderful for me to hear the other Muppet puppeteers, such as Marty, talk about Jim in such a caring and loving manner.

Sadly, like all human beings, puppeteers do not live forever, and all characters must be recast at one point or another. “I figure I got another 20 years on me,” Marty told us seriously. He also told us that he is currently working with an understudy for when the time comes to pass on his characters.


My absolute favorite part of the class was when Marty took out a famous Sesame Street character that he performs, the one and only, Telly! Seeing Marty perform the lovable monster before my eyes was truly astonishing.

With all that has been said, here are the three most important lessons I learned through the workshop:

  1. “It’s the puppeteer’s job to make the show better.” -Marty on how puppeteers on television shows, such as Sesame Street, work.
  2. “A puppeteer’s job is an actor’s job.” – another brilliant quote from Marty
  3. A way to get good at puppeteering is by teaching someone else the skills of bringing puppets to life.

The class was truly a rewarding experience that I gained so much knowledge from! Special thanks to the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and everyone at Sesame Workshop that made this unforgettable event possible, especially Marty!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

One thought on “Learning Puppetry from Martin P. Robinson at NYPL

  1. Pingback: Weekly Puppetry News Round-Up: Skeksis Edition | PuppetVision

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