- Dadi D. Pudumjee, UNIMA President, President of the Social Justice Commission
- Idoya Otegui, UNIMA Secretary General
- Lucile Bodson, Treasurer of UNIMA
- Manuel A. Morán, UNIMA Vice-President, President of the Three Americas Commission
- Karen Smith, UNIMA Vice-President, President of the Publication & Contemporary Writing Commission
- Check Amadou Alheri Kotondi, President of the Africa Commission
- Hamidreza Ardalan, President of the Heritage Commission
- Cariad Astles, President of the Research Commission
- Albert Bagno, President of the Middle East & North Africa Commission
- Stanislav Doubrava, President of the Statutes Commission
- Katarina Klančnik Kocutar, President of the Communication & Public Relations Commission
- Boris Konstantinov, President of the Youth Commission
- Livija Kroflin, President of the Education, Development & Therapy Commission
- Louise Lapointe, President of the International Festivals Commission
- Tito Lorefice, President of the Professional Training Commission
- Helena Nilsson, President of the Europe Commission
- Pierre-Alain Rolle, President of the Cooperation Commission
- Tang Dayu, President of the Asia-Pacific Commission
Dadi D. Pudumjee (India), UNIMA President
President of the Social Justice Commission
Dadi Pudumjee, born 1951, trained under legendary puppetry artist Meher Contractor, was a guest student at Marionette Theatre Institute] in Stockholm under Michael Meschke, where he also participated in workshops run by Minosuke Yoshida of the National Bunraku Theatre in Osaka, Japan. Dadi Pudumjee is founder of the cross-cultural company, The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust (New Delhi), where he works as director, designer and puppeteer, collaborating with puppeteers, actors and dancers, both traditional and modern. His work spans multiple cultural traditions – from India and beyond, especially countries of the East. Ishara has trained and continues to train and offer workshops in puppet theatre to youth and adults with an equal focus on social causes and entertainment. The Trust organises one of the most important annual theatre festivals in the country – The Ishara International Puppet Theatre Festival, held in Delhi; 2016 was the festival’s 15th season. Among its many projects, The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust ran a programme on HIV/AIDS awareness and substance abuse, supported by UNESCO. He has received several prestigious awards in India for his work and contribution to puppet theatre, notably the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1992 and the Padmashree in 2011, the latter presented by the President of India for Dadi Pudumjee’s contribution to puppetry. Dadi Pudumjee is a former President of UNIMA India and UNIMA International’s Asia-Pacific Commission, a Vice-President of UNIMA International (1992-2004) and is President of UNIMA International since 2008. Since 2016, he is the President of UNIMA International’s Social Justice Commission.
Idoya Otegui Martinez (Spain), UNIMA Secretary General
Idoya Otegui, born 1960, has a background in organizing congresses and public relations. She has organized and participated in many cultural events as part of the Centro de Iniciativas de Tolosa since 1978 and, since 2003, she has worked professionally for the Centro. She has been Vice-President of the Centro de Iniciativas de Tolosa, and currently is its treasurer. She is member of the Executive Committee of the Certamen Internacional de Coros de Tolosa, director of the Festival Internacional de Títeres de Tolosa and co-founder and director of TOPIC, Centro de la Marioneta de Tolosa, founded in 2009. She has been President of UNIMA Spain (2008-2015), a UNIMA councillor and President of the Election Committee of UNIMA International (1998-2014) as well as a member of UNIMA’s Publication & Communication Commission. She has been a member of the Consejo Estatal de las Artes Escénicas y la Música de España, and is currently responsible for the puppet theatre programme of the Centro Dramático Nacional in Madrid. Since 2016, she is General Secretary of UNIMA International, the first woman to hold this post.
Lucile Bodson (France), Treasurer of UNIMA
Lucile Bodson, born 1950, was director of Théâtre de la Marionnette in Paris from 1992 to 2003, when she took over as a director of the Institut Internationale de la Marionnette (IIM) and of the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts de la Marionnette (ESNAM), the latter a post she held until 2014. In 2015/2016, she conducted a study on the profession of puppetry initiated by the French Ministry of Culture. She is President of the Théâtre Mouffetard (Paris). Since 2012, she is the Treasurer of UNIMA International.
Manuel A. Morán (USA), Vice-President
President of Three Americas Commission
Manuel Morán, born 1969, holds a BA in Humanities and Drama (University of Puerto Rico), an MA in Educational and Musical Theatre (New York University), and a PhD in Educational Theatre (New York University). He has also studied at universities in Philadelphia, London and Santander (Spain). He has worked in television, film and professional theatre since his youth and is the founder of SEA, Society of the Educational Arts Inc., a bilingual Arts-in-Education and Latino Theatre Company for young audiences in the USA, thus re-establishing professional children and puppet theatre in New York City. A repertory of some eighteen shows now tour USA and Latin America. He is President of UNIMA-USA and a Vice-President of UNIMA International. Since 2016, he is the President of UNIMA International’s Three Americas Commission.
Karen Smith (USA/Australia), Vice-President
President of the Publication & Contemporary Writing Commission
Karen Smith, born 1954 in Australia, trained and worked as a puppeteer, designer and builder at the Shri Ram Centre Puppet Repertory, Jan Madhyam, and Ishara Puppet Theatre in New Delhi (India), and studied Javanese wayang kulit at Sanggar Redi Waluyo in Jakarta (Indonesia). From 1986, she was a member of UNIMA India, and later a board member of UNIMA-USA (2007-2014) and its President (2008-2010). She has attended international conferences and participated with curations, presentations and consulting in puppetry as a cultural heritage, with a special interest in wayang kulit. In this capacity, she served as curator for several exhibitions of Indonesian Wayang in India and the United States and contributed to a UNESCO photo documentary on Indonesian Wayang. A member of UNIMA International’s Executive Committee since 2012, she served as President of the Publication & Communication Commission (2010-2016) and was a member of the Research Commission (2004-2012) and the North America Commission (2008-2016). Since 2010, she is the editor-in-chief of the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts (WEPA), responsible for updating and mounting the 3-language 2nd edition onto the website of UNIMA International. Since 2016, she is a Vice-President of UNIMA International and President of the Publication & Contemporary Writing Commission.
Check Amadou Alheri Kotondi (Niger)
President of Africa Commission
Check Amadou Alheri Kotondi, born 1966, has studied at the university and at the theatre school UNEDO (Union des ensembles dramatiques de Ouagadougou) in Burkina Faso. After having presented puppetry at the Théâtre de la Fraternité in Burkina Faso, he returned to Niger in 1992 and created the company Koykoyo to promote puppetry in his country. He works with programmes for the education of youth and he presents at puppetry conferences. Since 2012, he is President of UNIMA International’s Africa Commission.
Hamidreza Ardalan (Iran)
President of Heritage Commission
Hamidreza Ardalan, born 1959, is an art theorist, PhD in art studies, branch of theatre and music. He has staged theatre and music productions oriented towards nature and objects and with an emphasis upon peace and equality in Iran and other emerging economies countries. He has published articles and books, and as artistic director has launched national and international events, festivals and seminars, especially in the field of puppet theatre. He is President of UNIMA Iran (Mobarak UNIMA), which has, to date, about 550 members. Since 2016, he is President of UNIMA International’s Heritage Commission.
Cariad Astles (United Kingdom)
President of Research Commission
Cariad Astles, born 1964, has been since 2006 course leader of BA students in puppetry at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. She is also a lecturer at Exeter University, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Plymouth in Theatre and Performance, a puppeteer, a performer and workshop leader. Since 2016, she is President of UNIMA International’s Research Commission.
Albert Bagno (Italy/France)
President of Middle East & North Africa Commission
Albert Bagno, born 1953 in France, is a puppeteer and researcher of world puppetry. He is founder (1989) of the association Marionetta e Terapia (Puppet and Therapy) in which he has studied various ways to use puppetry in teaching, for therapy and humanitarian activities. He is a member of UNIMA since 1976, was one of the founders, in 1980, of UNIMA Italy, and has served several times as a UNIMA councillor representing Italy. Since 2016, he is President of UNIMA International’s Middle East & North Africa Commission.
Stanislav Doubrava (Czech Republic)
President of Statutes Commission
Stanislav Doubrava, born 1952, worked with Divadlo Drak (Theatre Drak) and Josef Krofta from 1973 to 1982. This same year (1982) he graduated from the AMU – Akademie Múzických Umění (Academy of Performing Arts) in Prague. He has served as director of several Czech theatres and festivals, including the Mezinárodní Festival Divadlo Plzeň (Plzeň International Theatre Festival) and Mateřinka Festival, which he has directed since 1991. He has been a UNIMA councillor since 1996, President of the International Festivals Commission (2000-2008), a member of the Executive Committee (2000-2008) and Vice-President of UNIMA International (2004-2008). Since 2016, he is President of UNIMA International’s Statutes Commission.
Katarina Klančnik Kocutar (Slovenia)
President of Communication & Public Relations Commission
Katarina Klančnik Kocutar, born 1968, studied at the University of Ljubljana at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television. She worked in the 1990s as a journalist and critic and was, from 1999 to 2004, artistic director and manager of the Puppet Theatre Maribor. She is today dramaturge of the same theatre, works in the field of theatre pedagogic, and is artistic director of international puppet festival – Poletni Lutkovni Pristan (Summer Puppet Pier) of Puppet Theatre Maribor. She was, from 2011 to 2015, a member of the expert board of Puppetry Artist Institution of Slovenia, and a jury member selecting local awards in culture of the city of Maribor. Since 2016, she is President of UNIMA International’s Communication & Public Relations Commission.
Boris Konstantinov (Russia)
President of Youth Commission
Boris Konstantinov, born 1968, is the current director of the Sergei Obraztsov Central Academic Puppet Theatre. He graduated in 1993 from the Siberian State Academy of Culture and Arts as a stage director, and from Saint Petersburg Theatre Arts Academy, Puppetry Department. In the same city he founded a puppet theatre. Boris Konstantinov is the recipient of many prizes and awards including the annual Russian national theatre award, the Golden Mask, in 2001, 2009 and 2014, in the award categories of “Puppetry – Best Director” and “Puppetry – Best Production”. He also lectures in puppetry and has held his present post since 2013. Since 2016, he is President of UNIMA International’s Youth Commission.
Livija Kroflin (Croatia)
President of Education, Development & Therapy Commission
Livija Kroflin, born 1957, has an MA and a PhD in puppetry. She worked for twenty years as the artistic director and organizer of the Pupteatra Internacia Festivalo – PIF (International Puppet Theatre Festival) held annually in Zagreb. Since 2007, she is employed at the Department of Theatre at the Academy of Arts, University of Osijek, where she is now head of the Department and a lecturer. She has written and edited books and articles on puppetry and is the General Secretary of UNIMA Croatia and a councillor. She was a member of the UNIMA International Executive Committee (2000-2012), a correspondent of the UNIMA Research Commission and, since 2014, a member of the WEPA editorial committee. In 2016, she was elected President of UNIMA International’s Education, Development & Therapy Commission.
Louise Lapointe (Canada, Quebec)
President of International Festivals Commission
Louise Lapointe, born 1959, has a diploma in theatre, technical production, from Ryerson Institute, Toronto, Canada (1984) and a certificate in puppet construction from the Institut International de la Marionnette, Charleville-Mézières, France (1992). She has worked at the Académie des Arts du Théâtre in Montreal (1988-2012) as a stage technician. She has contributed to some ten professional performances as scenographer, mask and puppet creator. She was the artistic leader of the international puppetry festival in Jonquière (2001-2004), and founded, in 2005, Casteliers, an organisation for the dissemination of artistic forms of puppetry. She has been a councillor for UNIMA Canada. A member of this working group since 2001, in 2016 she is the current President of UNIMA International’s International Festivals Commission.
Tito Lorefice (Argentina)
President of the Professional Training Commission
Tito Lorefice, born 1957, is a puppeteer, actor, stage director, musician and teacher. He directs the department of puppetry and object theatre at the Instituto Artístico Mauricio Kagel, Universidad Nacional de San Martín. He has also directed the university puppet theatre company and college students in the BA courses in Puppetry Performing Arts. During the past 24 years, he has been a member of the Grupo de Marionetas del Teatro San Martín in Buenos Aires as puppeteer, actor, musician and stage director. Since 2012, he is a member of the Executive Committee of UNIMA International and its current President of the Professional Training Commission. He collaborated with the former Commission for Latin America. He is General Secretary of UNIMA Argentina.
Helena Nilsson (Sweden)
President of Europe Commission
Helena Nilsson, born 1965, is a puppeteer, stage director and the artistic director of the Marionetteatern at the Stockholm City Theatre. She has had her professional training from Michael Meschke, and after three years as an apprentice at the theatre, she received her diploma. Over the years, she has worked in all of the professions of puppetry, touring internationally with the theatre. In 1999, Michael Meschke handed over the artistic leadership of Marionetteatern to her; since then, she has directed the oldest contemporary puppet theatre, and the most well known, in Sweden. From 2004-2014, she was President of UNIMA Sweden, a councillor since 2003, and has been engaged in collaborative programmes between the Scandinavian countries. Educational theatre is a special interest of hers as well as gender equality and cultural diversity. Since 2016, she is President of UNIMA International’s Europe Commission.
Pierre-Alain Rolle (Switzerland)
President of the Cooperation Commission
Pierre-Alain Rolle, born 1954, is a comedian, puppet creator, stage director and director of his puppet theatre company ”Guignol à Roulettes” founded in 1981 with some twenty shows produced to date. His shows have toured in Europe and internationally. He has also trained puppeteers as well as school teachers in the use of puppetry in the schoolroom.
He has promoted and directed festivals and cultural events in Switzerland, Europe and Russia. He has been a member of UNIMA Switzerland since 1986, a councillor since 2004, and a member of the Executive Committee of UNIMA International since 2008, for which he continues to hold the position of President of the Cooperation Commission.
Tang Dayu (China)
President of Asia-Pacific Commission
Tang Dayu, born 1945, studied Jingju opera at the Chengdu Drama School and was selected for the Jingju Opera Institute in Beijing. She worked as a Jingju actress (1962-1972), was appointed to the Chengdu Municipal Bureau of Culture in 1982, and later became Director of the Chengdu Puppetry and Shadow Art Theatre. Tang Dayu played the principal role in more than twenty plays, imbuing her roles with speciality items such as “face changing” and “fire spitting”, skills she learned from her training with actors performing such stunts in Sichuan opera, acts which she then transferred to puppet theatre. Several of her shows were awarded national prizes. She was the first President and General Secretary of China Puppetry and Shadow Association and UNIMA China, and Vice-President of the Chengdu Dramatist Association. Since 2012, she is the President of UNIMA International’s Asia-Pacific Commission.