5 Questions with Activist, Artist and NYC Poll Worker, Lindsey Briggs

Lindsey “Z” Briggsis most known, internationally and domestically, for her work in the world of puppetry.  But for me, the most interesting thing about Z has always been her passion for activism.  I can’t think of a conversation that I’ve had with Z, where she didn’t talk about service, doing something for others, or what she thinks could be done to make the world a better place.  In trying times like these, seemingly small acts of volunteerism, like becoming a poll worker, makes Z a role model for me, and so many others.  Anyone who walks the walk, and talks the talk, is always worth my time and consideration.  (A side note: We had a different blog lined up for this week, but after the specific acts of hate that took place in my own borough last night, I decided we needed to take it up a notch.  Thank you to Z for making time at the last possible minute). Here are “5 Questions” for advocate and activist, Lindsey Briggs.

JMK:  At this moment in time, it is impossible not to see how crucial it is to vote.  As a young voting citizen of this country, what made you volunteer to be a poll worker, and what have you learned from the experience?

LB:Following the 2016 election I wanted to be more involved.  Because I have two young kids at home, I can’t show up to meetings or rally’s in the same way that I could before kids.  It occurred to me that helping with the election might be a good fit, and I looked into being a poll worker.  I want to be a friendly face that can help to make the voting process a positive one.  I have learned quite a bit about the election process, and the work that goes into being a poll worker.  I had no idea that all New York state poll workers must arrive at the polling site at 5am and are not dismissed until at least 10pm, but sometimes much later.  We receive two, one hour breaks throughout the day, but it is a very long day.  If you see a poll worker, be sure to say thank you.

JMK:  Z, when I think of you, I think of you as an activist first.  How are you giving your time to your current primary cause?

LB:There are many causes that are very important to me.  Black lives matterand educating others about institutional racism and common sense gun legislationare both topics that I feel very strongly about.  As I said above I don’t have time to attend the meetings and rally’s that I wish I could be at, but instead I make sure to have conversations with people about these topics and do small things in my own way to help promote positive change.

JMK: You are a parent of two young, beautiful and imaginative boys in NYC.  What active measures are you engaging in to teach them compassion?

LB:We talk a lot about empathy and trying to see things from others perspectives.  Everyone’s feelings are important.  I feel very lucky to be raising a family in New York City, as it is so diverse and a wonderful example of so many different people living and working together.

JMK: Anti-Semitism is on the rise again globally and in this country.  Just last night, a synagogue in Brooklyn was vandalizedwith disgusting graffiti.  The words written on the interior walls of that house of worship makes one’s chest tighten and heart sink.  As an artist and activist, what do you do when you hear of such horrific hate crimes?

LB:I think about what must have happened in that person’s life to make them feel such anger against others.  It makes me sad.  I have hope that the next generation will be an example of understanding, peace and tolerance.

JMK: Agreed!  We must keep hope alive for our children.  On a lighter note, at this time of year, families are gathering around the table to share time together.  They’re also sharing food!  Would you please share what your favorite family dish is and how it makes you feel?  

LB:We have spaghetti and meatballsevery single Monday night.  You are all welcome to come.  It is everyone’s favorite meal, and we will likely still be making it every Monday night in 20+ years.

JMK:  You’re awesome.  Thanks for this.  I now officially feel hopeful for Tuesday’s vote. 

Lindsey “Z.” Briggs is the Foundation Manager of The Jim Henson Foundation.  She has been working as a professional puppeteer since 2004 and has had many opportunities to perform in television, internet shorts, pilots, live theater, and independent films.  She studied at the University of Connecticut Puppet Arts masters program for 3 years and has attended and worked as staff for the National Puppetry Conference at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.  Z. lives in Astoria, Queens with her husband and 2 children, and performs live puppet theater for families throughout New York City as co-artistic director of WonderSpark Puppets.http://www.wondersparkpuppets.com/
https://www.facebook.com/WonderSparkPuppets/

Published by Jean Marie Keevins

Jean Marie Keevins is the owner of Little Shadow Productions. She is a NYC-based producer, writer, puppet artist and designer. She is currently producing Ronnie Burkett’s Crave, executive producing Martin P. Robinson’s All Hallow’s Eve and has been newly named the producer of Puppet Playlist, a quarterly cabaret, featuring NYC’s top musical and puppetry talent. She has executive produced multiple works for Heather Henson’s Ibex Puppetry, including Crane: on earth, in sky, featuring Ty DeFoe (Straight White Men) and directed by Maija Garcia (Spike Lee’s "She’s Gotta Have It"). Keevins is currently executive producing The Riddle of the Trilobites (directed by Lee Sunday Evans), which is on course for a 2020 NYC premier at The New Victory Theater. Under the umbrella of her production company, Little Shadow Productions, Jean Marie has created a self-produced short film, and co-produced many others. Little Shadow was proudly commissioned to create and perform the puppets for Wyatt Cenac’s (“The Daily Show” and “Problem Area’s”) Netflix special “Wyatt Cenac’s Brooklyn”. Most recently, Little Shadow created original puppets for Andy Sandberg’s “The Lonely Island's” live event at Clusterfest. Jean Marie is honored to serve as the lead producer for downtown theater icon, James Godwin (recipient of the Jim Henson Award for Innovation and a Doris Duke Fellowship). Godwin’s The Flatiron Hex was a New Times Critic’s Pic and his Lunatic Cunning was lauded with many awards including an UNIMA Citation of Excellence. As the long-time VP of Business Development at Puppet Heap, Jean Marie served as a knowledgeable liaison between clients (The Muppets, Mother, Diet Coke, Disney Theatricals, and more) and the Puppet Heap workshop throughout the entire design/build/production process. She has built puppets for Avenue Q, Disney on Ice’s Finding Nemo, Baby Einstein, “The Muppets”, "Johnny and the Sprites" as well as various Broadway shows. Keevins has co-authored the plays Zwerge with Deb Hertzberg and Spencer Lott ("Sesame Street") and Elephant in the Room with Sahr Ngauaja (Fela, Moulin Rouge!). She has received grant support from the Jim Henson Foundation Grants and Puffin Foundation. Similarly, Jean Marie has received prestigious writing residencies from Space on Ryder Farm, ArtPark, The Orchard Project, The National Puppetry Conference, NISDA and Dixon Place to name a few. A reoccurring Guest Lecturer at New York University, Jean Marie holds a BA in Theater Studies with a concentration in the Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut. Honing her training at the National Puppetry Conference, one of Jean Marie’s proudest accomplishments came when she joined the conference as staff. She now serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Conference as well as the Director of Participant Projects where she leads a mentoring program to create new short works of theatre. Jean Marie is a frequent moderator of interviews and panels featuring world renown artists. Ms. Keevins is a former board member of the international puppetry organization UNIMA-USA.

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