Zaloom turns puppetry into art

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I don’t believe that I’m going out on a limb when I say that Paul Zaloom is not a name that resonates within the popular consciousness of the UVM community. Nor is it even largely in minds of folks living in the greater artistic collective that is Burlington.

Perhaps this is because the presence of the professional art form known as puppetry is often overlooked. Sure, many recall its presence at one time or another in their childhood.

Some, perhaps, are still stuck on the fear of seeing their first ventriloquist – most likely an adult ogling a young crowd while a childish joke comes out through the even stranger mouth of the “dummy” oddly fastened onto the performer’s forearm.

Fortunately, Paul Zaloom is not one of those awkward puppeteers, and likewise, his main outlet lies in the medium of the puppet show. A world traveler by way of his trade, Zaloom brings a clean and clear approach to his plays, though undeniably more clear than clean.

I took part in his workshop “The Theatre of Trash” on Friday March 30 at the Flynn Center. Attendees were instructed to bring in six items of nonsensical trash. 

The class was an improvisational experiment, as we were blindly led into the preliminary thoughts of any crafted stage performer. Zaloom, being among the finest tier of such performers, took us into the depths of our own self-conscious and helped, or tried to help, us cut our anxieties free. 

With such an intimate setting in which all three of us attendees so willingly put our humility on the line, I find it hard, in a strangely moral way, to give great detail into the progression of the workshop. What is significant is recognizing the arts that exist within Burlington that go unnoticed and unappreciated beneath the radar of the youth population here. 

Zaloom is just one of many unappreciated artists that frequent Burlington and give the area its essential progressive nature. 

With his New York frankness and his subtly dry, yet genuinely crude humor, Zaloom stands at the forefront of his craft, offering more than just a show of merely witty and childish puppetry.