Diana Rockwell: Ventriloquist

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                  HOW I BECAME A VENTRILOQUIST: My name is Diana L. Smith, alias Diana Rockwell. I am a ventriloquist based in KCK and formerly Lawrence, KS. My love of puppetry began as a small child when my mother purchased a puppet making book for me at a Montgomery Ward book sale. Needless to say, it never left my side. My fascination with the book led me to create characters mostly made from wooden spoons or cut-out cardboard faces glued to popsicle sticks. I even built a puppet theater out of a cardboard box. I spray painted it red, cut a rectangular hole in the top area of the front side and attached white felt for little curtains. I eventually checked out a book at the public library that featured short plays for children. I was drawn to one based on an English folk tale called "Johnny Cake." My childish rendition of it was called "The Buttermilk Ghost". The runaway pancake was now a ghost that haunted breakfast time instead. Today, I create material suitable for all kinds of audiences. I started out performing for mature audiences only. As of now, I am sticking with material that is best fitted for family crowds.

         As for the ventriloquial side of things, it peaked my interest as an undergrad. I was a painting major and decided to create works based on books, movies, or any other type of media that frightened me as a child. One example I included was reworking images from the Goosebumps book, Night of The Living Dummy. The book did not necessarily scare me, but I did find it a bit creepy. This project inspired me to do some research on ventriloquism. In the meantime, I did YouTube searches for videos of successful vents such as Kevin Johnson, Terry Fator, Jeff Dunham, Nina Conti, and eventually stumbled across the one who became my all time favorite: Dan Horn. In the end, I never completed the painting series I started, but pursued an entirely different art form instead. Now, it is all I ever want to do.