Sophomore Sebastiano Ricci’s childhood fascination with puppetry turned out to be more than just a phase.
Previously studying communications with an emphasis on film, Ricci is changing course with the help of Adelphi University’s model of personalized education to create his own unique major.
“When I found out at Adelphi you can create your own major with the interdisciplinary studies, I said ‘That’s a fantastic opportunity for me to finally follow my dream of becoming a professional puppeteer,’” said Ricci, whose goal is to work on Sesame Street as a core puppeteer. “I talked to my advisor, John Drew, and he was totally down for the idea. I’m coming up with the senior thesis and what classes are required for my major.”
For Ricci, an interest in puppetry started early. Like many, he was drawn to children’s programs like Barney and Sesame Street, but what fascinated him most was the mechanics behind bringing iconic puppets like Elmo and Big Bird to life.
“I watched a lot of kids’ television, and I was always fascinated by how it worked,” Ricci said. “I wanted to know how these characters were talking and how they were moving. I knew that they weren’t real, but I wanted to know the mechanics behind it.”
Ricci is already on track to make his dreams a reality. He has been performing on his YouTube channel for the past seven years while taking multiple workshops in New York City, including
The Voice Class run by the Brooklyn Puppet Conspiracy and at the Puppet Kitchen. He’s also created his own cast of characters made of foam, fleece and cotton ball eyes, including a hyper green monster named Fad, the optimistic Joey Pepper, and, in development, a big red monster with horns.
Adelphi is giving him the opportunity to turn his passion into something more. Starting junior year, Ricci will take classes of his own design within the communications department, the art department and the department of theatre.
Classes will consist of filmmaking and monitor work for working with puppets, puppet building and sculpture, and acting with an emphasis on voice.
“The idea was always in my head, but I didn’t go through with anything until the middle of this semester, my sophomore year,” explained Ricci “I wasn’t sure if I definitely wanted to do it because it’s a very niche field, but I decided I’m going to go for it and everyone in the communications department has had my back. They think it’s a fantastic idea. We are still in the very early stages and the classes aren’t set in stone yet. But it’s out there, it’s going to happen.”