"The coach was Robert Smythe, and what a vigorous, dynamic teacher he is." - Philly.com
Robert Smythe is the founder and former director of the Playwrighting Program for the International Puppetry Conference at the Tony-winning O’Neill Theater Center. He earned his MFA in Playwrighting from Temple University, and currently teaches playwrighting technique for PlayPenn, the Philadelphia incubator for playwrights.
An acclaimed theater artist, Robert is best known as the founder of Mum Puppettheatre, where he served as its Artistic Director for over twenty-three years. The only regional theater in the United States dedicated to puppetry, Mum “sparked the Philadelphia theater renaissance that continues to this day," according to the Philadelphia City Paper. During Robert's tenure, he wrote, directed, and performed over twenty original productions using puppets, masks, and human actors, and led Mum on international tours on four continents.
Smythe has won numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim, Pew, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and six solo performer fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts; he’s won six Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theater in areas ranging from education to choreography; and he was the first artist to receive a commission from the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts: the resulting collaboration between him and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Stravinsky’s “l’Histoire du Soldat,” won the 2011 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Collaboration.
His ground-breaking application of narrative theory to puppetry, “Reading a Puppet Show: Understanding the Three-Dimensional Narrative,” was published in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance, and his work on motor contagion was been published in Acta Psychologica. In 2010, Philadelphia Magazine selected Robert as the "Best Professor" for their annual "Best of Philadelphia" issue.