Tobi (aka Allison Daniel) is a Magical Experience Designer, Director, and Physical Performer with a rich background of training in Puppetry, Mime, Clown, Mask and Acrobatics. Tobi attended L’école Internationale de Théâtre LASSAAD in Brussels, a 2 year Lecoq based conservatory program (Lassaad Sadi and Norman Taylor). They are graduate of the Flying Actors Conservatory program (James Donlon, Leonard Pitt), as well as Sandglass puppetry manipulation intensive (Eric Bass, Ines Zeller Bass), and the Clown Conservatory program at Circus Center in San Francisco (Joe Dieffenbacher, Dan Griffiths) where Tobi continued on to teach puppetry and acrobatics.
While attending Illinois State University majoring in scenic costume design Tobi additionally created their own focus in puppetry design. Upon graduating they moved to Chicago and designed and built (as well as sometimes performing or directing) puppets for many of Chicago’s theatre companies. These include The Joffrey Ballet, The Marriott Theatre of Lincolnshire, Chicago Dramatist, Blair Thomas and Redmoon Theatre. The Puppets they build are as varied as the performances for which they were created. They have built 7 inch tall musical mice, to a six and a half foot tall “space bear” body puppet, and many in between and beyond.
One of Tobi’s greatest joys both personally and professionally is to use their various crafts to blur the line between art and life. These can be surprise live events such as several live action penny arcade machines in the ruins of Sutro Baths of San Francisco, a chicken crossing the road with a sign asking “Why?” in the Magnificent Mile shopping district of downtown Chicago, or helping organize and run citywide games of tag in different cities in the US and Europe. They also infuse magic into smaller experiences such as a personalized urban treasure hunt for a friend’s birthday, and tiny unplanned moments like transforming everyday objects into impromptu kitchen table puppet shows or blowing bubbles to brighten a stranger’s day.
Their work in direction, design, performance and construction give them a world of possibilities and ideas to mix and match into a world of joy, insanity, and unique perspectives. Tobi believes that everything around us is magical, we just have to release its potential energy, like magical bubble wrap just waiting to play. At the base of all their work in art and life is a deep desire to light up people’s hearts.
Special Recognitions Include:
- First Recipient of the Peggy Ford and Paoli Lacy Award for female clowns.
- Featured on the cover of of Puppetry International in their 40 under 40 issue
- nomination Non-Equity Joseph Jefferson Award for her Puppet design
“The Nutcracker” with The House Theatre of Chicago.
- Invite only audition for the Jim Henson Company
- Cirque du Soleil casting database invited member