Who We Are...

National Marionette Theatre is owned and operated by the Syrotiak family of Brattleboro, VT. Each year this remarkable company travels some forty-five thousand miles across the USA performing for many different types of venues from elementary schools and theaters, to libraries, summer camps and outdoor fairs and festivals.

David A. Syrotiak, Artistic Director

A self-made puppeteer, David Syrotiak Sr. has won the well-deserved, honorary title of "Master Puppeteer". He has dedicated his entire life to the field of puppetry, which attracted him at a very young age. In his teens he got his first job working with Suzari Marionettes and later on worked alongside the Krofft Brothers and Bil Baird during the 1965 Worlds Fair in New York. He eventually started doing his own shows and founded his own theatre company, The National Marionette Theatre in 1967. His work won him an UNIMA award for excellence in the field of puppetry in 1976 for “Art of the Puppeteer” and again in 1997 for his adaptation of “Beauty and The Beast”.  Well known in the international arena for his shows and workshops, David Sr. has worked and toured extensively in many parts of the world. In a career spanning over fifty years, David Sr. has produced and performed many shows. Some of his favorite aspects of puppetry are painting, sculpting and of course, performing.



David J. Syrotiak, Managing Director

David Syrotiak Jr. has been around puppets all of his life. As one of David Syrotiak Senior’s children it was only natural. At age twelve, he was recruited as an emergency understudy for National Marionette Theatre’s production of “Art of the Puppeteer” and was pulled out of school, rehearsed and on a plane to California within five days. He formally joined the company in 1984 and has toured with many of its productions both in the USA and abroad ever since. Along the way, he’s taken time off to work with other companies including Vagabond Marionettes, The Bennington Puppets, The Center for Puppetry Arts and Bil Baird’s Marionettes. Aside from performing and managing the day-to-day business of the company, David is also an accomplished wood carver, sculptor and costumer.

Peter Syrotiak, Production Manager

Much like his brother David, Peter has been around puppetry all of his life. Since he was old enough to hold a piece of sandpaper Peter has always lent a hand in the shop building marionettes, sets and props for the company. He officially joined National Marionette Theatre in 1989 with their production of “Christmas Dream” and has been touring, building and performing ever since. He has performed and traveled extensively with the company both in the United States and abroad. For Peter, puppetry represents many things and many aspects of his identity: as a profession, a passion for art, and a strong connection to his family and his family’s history. Peter is not only a talented puppeteer but also a brilliant puppet maker. If you see an animal puppet in any of the company’s productions, chances are that Peter is the one who created it.

Mariana Palade Syrotiak - Director of Education and Outreach

Mariana’s relationship with puppetry began in 1987 in her native Romania. She entered in the field professionally in 1990 when she was admitted to the Theatre and Film Academy in Bucharest Romania. She graduated in 1994 with a BA in Performing Arts specializing in puppetry. In 1994 she met David Jr. in Charleville Mezieres, France. In 1995 she met David Sr. in Saarbrucken, Germany. In 1996 she joined both the National Marionette Theatre and the Syrotiak family. Currently, Mariana is also a Program Manager at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT where she earned a Master Degree in Intercultural Management. She is about to complete her Master Degree in Teaching English to Speaker’s of Other Languages. Mariana is equally passionate and committed to the arts, culture and education.

Mica, Whizzie and Emily, Studio Security

Mica, Whizzie and Emily Syrotiak play a very important role at National Marionette Theatre's studio. They serve as an early warning system for any person, machine or animal that might happen to walk, roll, crawl or skitter by our door. They are also our quality control officers in charge of testing any and all scraps of wood and chunks of dried neoprene that go through our shop. Mica and Whizzie's duties also include continually warming all chairs on the premises while Emily has taken on the responsibility of Hygiene Technician. She makes that sure everyone's hands, faces and exposed skin are as clean as possible. All three of our security officers enjoy KFC snackers while on duty and for recreation they have formed their own canine rugby team.