Interview – Puppeteer David Manley, Up In Arms

Today we are talking with someone who has an amazing job!  I personally met David Manley at a puppet workshop a few years back called Beyond the Sock (  Each year, puppeteers (amateur and professional) come from all over the world to learn how to make and preform puppets and the workshop has connected so many people all with the same passion–puppets.  I got to talk with David about his puppet work in New York.


Good morning, David!  Let’s start off with you telling us about yourself and what do you do?

Good morning!  I’m a puppeteer who travels to schools, theaters and libraries in New York and New Jersey mostly, but nationally as well. When I was young, I knew I wanted to be a puppeteer but peer pressure caused me to put it aside. I rediscovered it my adulthood and began my puppet company, Up In Arms, in 2012. I produce Broadway-style puppet musicals – the kind I wanted to see as a kid. Our shows include messages about learning, bullying (kindness and respect), health and wellness and our latest family musical “Pirate Song” about a young pirate princess searching the world for her song.

That is so cool that you get to teach children with puppets!  What is your favorite part of being a puppeteer for school-age children?

I love the sense of wonder they have. We can hear them calling out from behind stage and their questions during our Q&A makes me feel like we’re imparting that same sense of magic I felt about puppetry when I was their age. As adults, it helps to remind us that magic still exists and to be producing it is amazing.

Out of all of your different programs you have done over the years, which one is your favorite?

Hands down, “Helping Drew”, our anti-bullying musical. As a kid who encountered some bullying, it was important for my own personal journey to experience being part of the solution instead of feeling like a victim. I’ve had so many comments from adults thanking me for the program having their own experiences being bullied.


What upcoming shows you do you have coming up?  How can people come see the shows (say if they don’t go to one of the schools that your group preforms at)?

“Pirate Song” premiered October 13 in Newburgh, NY at a local library. One of our earlier shows, “Welcome Park” plays The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck, NY in November 2018. We perform for libraries mostly in the summer in Northern New Jersey and the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York. Folks who are interested can follow us on our Facebook page ( to find our public shows. We’ve played as far away as Las Vegas, NV and down the east coast to Maryland and Virginia as well so, you never know where we might be performing.

Alright, time for one last question!  What Muppet / Sesame Street character best describes you and why?

I’m kind of a cheerful, organized Scooter type with a strong Cookie Monster sweet tooth and a Grover who just wants to share love.

Perfect answer!  Thank you so much David for taking the time to talk to us today.  It is so awesome to see someone following their dream and providing inspiration to children all over the country.  If you want to keep up with Up In Arms please go to or check them out on Facebook at  If you have seen an Up In Arms production, please leave a comment on how you liked it and if you are in the area check out Pirate Song David’s next big production!


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