Professor of Puppetry, Improv specialist, Theatre Educator... and author!
Johanna Smith has been a professor of Theatre Education, American Childhood, Improvisation, and Puppetry at CSU-San Bernardino since 2000 and recently became the official Improv faculty for CSUSB's Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship. She has been directing award-winning Children's Theatre performances for over 20 years. She has served as an artist and educator for venues from professional theatres to museums to colleges to preschools. She is a frequent presenter on puppetry as a powerful educational and artistic tool for teachers, and has an international presence. Her production of The Odyssey (director, puppet design) toured to the PuppetFair puppet festival in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2008, followed by a tour of 4 major Chinese cities for the Chonqing Children's Theatre season in 2009. She has written and received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and TCG. She very proudly works with the California Arts Project and is a recommended artist for the LA County Arts Ed Collective. She is also a member of AATE, the American Alliance for Theatre and Education and the Puppeteers of America. She can also be seen performing with Farm to Table, the house improv team of Ophelia's Jump Productions. She believes in the power of laughter and creative re-use to inspire a love of learning.
“Johanna Smith has created a beautiful resource for teachers, artists, and anyone else interested in exploring the art of puppetry with children. Puppetry in Theatre and Arts Education is equal parts how-to and inspiration, with an emphasis on how puppetry allows us to be more connected as collaborators while activating learning through many disciplines.”
-Cheryl Capezzuti, Puppetry Journal, Spring 2019
“The first five chapters are dedicated to technique, teaching puppet manipulation, and how to endow the puppet with meaning, intention, and personality. This focus on technique above esthetics relies more on the child's imaginative interactions with the world, rather than asking them to create a functional puppet from their initial engagement. Smith instead has the students work with newspapers, plastic shopping bags, and scarves in these early chapters, skipping construction or design until later assignments when students have a better understanding of the functions they need a puppet to have in service of storytelling. This structure is one of the strengths of the text, relieving the esthetic pressure from students who might feel intimidated by the "craftiness" of puppets also helps students engage with the technique without the distraction of the potentially imperfect visual."
-Cully Long, Youth Theatre Journal