DAVID STEPHENS, founder of ALL HANDS PRODUCTIONS
For over 20 years, David Stephens has been delighting family audiences with his humorous interpretations of classic fairy tales. Working exclusively as a solo puppeteer, he has traveled extensively throughout the United States. His shows have been favorites at such prominent institutions as the Puppet Showplace in Brookline, MA and the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, GA. He has also performed in Canada by invitation of Puppets Up!, a 2-day puppetry festival in Almonte, ON, and Wide Open Puppet Theater of Saskatchewan. His shows have received such honors as an UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence in 2004 for Billy Goats Gruff and Other Stuff and a 2013 Best Playwriting award for The Reluctant Dragon (2008 Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant recipient) at the Puppeteers of America Festival (r)Evolution.
Stephens was initially attracted to the art of puppetry through the work of Jim Henson, whose Muppet characters captivated his imagination. He became so intrigued with the work of Henson and his team that he began creating his own puppets as a middle school student and soon after began producing his own live performances. A trip to the Center for Puppetry Arts in the early 1990's introduced him to Terry Snyder, a Richmond, VA based puppeteer who would become Stephens' mentor and friend for 20 years until Snyder's death in 2015. He joined the Puppeteers of America in 1992, attending regional and national festivals which opened his eyes to many forms of puppetry and a community of puppet professionals and enthusiasts.
Stephens received his undergraduate degree in Speech and Theater from Troy University in 1995 and went on to obtain his Masters in Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut in 2001. He maintained his professional identity as a touring, solo puppeteer during his years as a full-time student. Upon graduating, he returned to his home state of Alabama and founded All Hands Productions and continued concentrating his efforts as a performer in venues such as schools, libraries, churches and small theaters. Stephens relocated his company to Atlanta in 2004 after several successful consecutive seasons as a guest artist at The Center for Puppetry Arts.
In 2006, Stephens briefly lived in New York and gained experience as a television puppeteer. He joined the cast of SeeMore's Playhouse in it's second season performing Shades Wolf, one of the show's main characters. He became a utility Muppet performer during season 39 of Sesame Street and later worked on several Sesame Workshop specials. In 2008, he was one of four puppeteers cast in Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, an off-Broadway collaboration between The Jim Henson Company and Goodspeed Musicals. For the show's second season, he was promoted to Puppet Captain.
As well as his accomplishments as a puppeteer, he has enjoyed a 20 year career as a banjo player and songwriter. He has produced 7 CDs of original music and plays in local Atlanta venues as Banjolicious and with other bluegrass and old-time bands. Several of his puppet shows incorporate his talents as a songwriter and musician.
After returning to Atlanta from New York in 2008, Stephens hit the road once again with his one-man shows. He performs well over 100 shows per year, most of which are concentrated during the summer months for reading programs in public libraries across the Southeast.
His mission and his passion with All Hands Productions is to create original, quality puppet theater for children and their families.