Three puppeteers, colleagues and friends from three countries, with one common drive: to enact social change through the magic of puppetry.
Our Stories, Ourselves
Since we believe that the stories we tell ourselves create our identity, our aim is that the stories that people in disadvantaged communities will tell themselves and their children, will be stories of strength, of overcoming the odds, of human dignity.
Founded in 2005 as a non profit organization in France -Loi 1901- Puppeteers Without Borders has run more than hundred workshops.
Countries we have run programs:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- El Salvador
- South Africa
Erica Zoltan Sapir
I was born and raised in Florence, Italy, where I studied journalism.
In 1963 I moved to Israel, where I published articles for an Italian newspaper, and raised a family of five children.
From 1987 to 1990, I studied at the Jerusalem School for Visual Theatre.
Since 1990 until today I have worked as designer and maker of puppets, stage designer, director and puppeteer in many shows for children and adults.
“The Dwarf” (for adults), first prize from the Cultural Institute of West Westphalia (Germany), second prize at the Teatronetto Festival (Israel).
“Goldilocks and The Three Bears” for the Train Theater, in Jerusalem
“Auntie Rim”, first prize for puppets and stage design at the Haifa International Children’s Theater Festival.
“Kafkaesque” (for adults) for the company “Theatrontheater”.
Many of the shows have been touring all major puppet festivals around the world.
In 1993 I lived for nine months in Calcutta, India, working at Mother Theresa’s Home for the Dying and with the children living at the Hawrah train station (in the framework of the NGO TRACKS).
Since 2001 I have lived in France where I founded with other professional puppeteers the NGO: Puppeteers Without Borders.
I speak English, French, Italian and Hebrew.
My earliest artistic influence was the hillside where I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa away from the distractions of television and toys. I first began to study art in 1978 and after traveling to Israel I emigrated there in 1981. After taking courses in art therapy an understanding began to emerge beyond the art itself to the process of creating art as a transformative experience.
I made a living as a print maker which deepened my understanding of working with artists and art. In my drama classes at the Jerusalem School of Visual Theater I encountered puppets and puppetry. I worked at The Train Theater as a puppeteer, teaching and performing. It was a rich and productive time with a variety of projects ranging from teaching puppetry in Ramle Prison to traveling to the Czech Republic with the Drak Theatre to training puppeteers in South Africa. After an experience at Haddassah Hospital in training nurses on a pediatric ward to use puppets, I began to pursue a drama therapy degree.
I completed my studies and started a family then took a job as a drama therapist, working with children who were hearing impaired. In addition I was conducting teacher-training workshops and was sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on a goodwill mission to Kenya to train puppeteers and health workers.
In 2002 I moved to the United States .
I worked with Special Gifts Theater (for children with special needs) and co-founded Puppeteers Without Borders.
Presently I am responsible for creating workshops for an elementary school. I am an early child educator working in a Reggio Emilio School
Rochi Dan (1959 - 2017)
I was born and live in Israel.
I studied history of art and theater at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
For 25 years I have been teaching puppetry for art and theater students, for teachers, social workers, nurses, therapists and children.
Since 1979 have been acting and directing many puppet theater productions for children and adults. I have been a puppet therapist in a children’s department in a hospital in Jerusalem.
In collaboration with the Yad Vashem (the holocaust museum) I have created educational puppetry programs and performances.
During the years 2002 – 2010 I have been sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry as a puppetry consultant for Kenya puppeteers, teachers and hospital nurses in Kenya and Ethiopia.
I co-founded Puppeteers Without Borders.
I am the artistic director of a theater group of hearing impaired actors.
I speak Hebrew, English, French and Israeli Sign Language.
On the 26 of July 2017, our dear friend and colleague Rochi Dan passed away after a long illness.