After winning a regional Emmy Award in 1979 for the puppets in "Cinderrabbit" on PBS in the US, Burkett formed his own theatre company in Alberta in 1986. His early works included Fool's Edge, Virtue Falls, The Punch Club and Awful Manors. In 1994, his work Tinka's New Dress was his international breakthrough, winning two Dora Awards, four Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Awards and a special citation from the Obie Awards. Performed internationally, Tinka's New Dress was the first part of a trilogy which continued with Street of Blood in 1999 and Happy in 2000. He also won a Chalmers Award in 1996 for Old Friends, a piece commissioned by the Manitoba theatre for young people. In 2009, Burkett received the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre for design. (Picture: John Alcorn)
His work, Provenance, was performed for the first time in October 2003, premiering at Theatre Network in Edmonton. In November 2007, he finished touring his show 10 Days on Earth that premiered at CanStage in Toronto in April 2006. In October 2008, he premiered his quasi-autobiographical show, Billy Twinkle: Requiem for a Golden Boy, at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton; the show toured several cities in Canada, the UK, and Australia through late 2009. Burketts partner, acclaimed musician John Alcorn, composed the score. "This show is the first time that we worked together," Burkett told. "And about a year and a half ago when we started the process, there was almost a murder-suicide! Because I had worked with the same composer for 15 years and she and I had the same shorthand. I just assumed that because he's my partner and we've been together for almost a decade that wed have our own shorthand. But not so in the process."
Ronnie Burkett, Phillip Huber and John Alcorn
Ronnie Burkett (born June 10, 1957 in Lethbridge, Alberta) is a Canadian puppeteer, best known for his original theatrical plays for adults, performed with marionettes. He was the puppeteer for Ralph on the TV Ontario series Harriet's Magic Hats during seasons three and four. Openly gay, Burkett lives in Toronto with his partner since 1998, jazz singer John Alcorn. Alcorn's daughter, Coco Love Alcorn, is also a noted Canadian jazz and pop singer.
In 2011-12, he did an extensive Canadian tour of his new play, an apocalyptic comedy, Penny Plain. His next work, inspired by underground Czech marionette-theatre, will be The Daisy Show and include material by other playwrights.
Burkett usually writes his own scripts. Appearing onstage throughout each performance, he manipulates and is the voice of every character, from newborn ducks to dying mothers, Christ and Satan and everything in between.
Born in Toronto, Ontario and raised in Trinidad, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and New Hampshire, Alcorn returned to Toronto as an adult and began performing in jazz clubs. He released his first album in 1999, and was named Male Vocalist of the Year by the Jazz Report Awards. He also earned a Dora Award in 1997 as music director and composer for Theresa Tova's play Still the Night.
Alcorn has also acted in a number of television films, including Must Be Santa and The Piano Man's Daughter.
Billy Twinkle by Ronnie Burkett
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: Playwrights Canada Press; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
Amazon: Billy Twinkle
Award-winning Burkett has created an unprecedented adult audience for puppet theater.
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