An exciting exhibition of over 70 Ballard Institute puppets from around the world is currently on display at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut (just north of Hartford) and will be on view for airport travelers from now until November.
The exhibition, titled The World of Puppetry, was curated by Nicole Hartigan, a graduate student in UConn’s famed Puppet Arts Program, and the graduate assistant to the Ballard Institute. The exhibition fills four cases adjacent to Bradley Airport’s departure gates, and includes rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, oversized masks, and marionettes.
The first case features shadow puppets, and includes dramatic figures from the Tolu Bommalata tradition of Andhra Pradesh, as well as Javanese and Balinese wayang kulit figures, and puppets from similar traditions in Thailand and Malaysia. This section also features colorful marionettes from Burma and China, and a four-armed, elephant-headed Ganesha marionette from Nepal, as well as masks from Bali, Java, and Mexico.
Handpuppets are featured in the exhibition’s second case, including Connecticut puppeteer Ray Mount’s colorful figures from Old Wive’s Tale, three vivid handpuppets from Haiti, a rare handpuppet from Poland’s Arlekin Theater of Lodz, a Chinese handpuppet, and one-of-a-kind figures by Cincinnati puppeteer Larry Smith for The Uncle Al Show, the longest-running American television series of the last century.
A case devoted to the Punch and Judy traditions of European and American puppetry includes rare 19th-century Punch puppets, an extensive array of puppets built and used by the Ridiculous Theater’s Charles Ludlam, a set of early 20th-century Guignol puppets, and a set of political caricature handpuppets of 1960s Connecticut politicians used by puppeteer Rufus Rose in the Connecticut Statehouse when he was a state legislator from Waterford.
Rod puppets are featured in the last case of the exhibition, including three striking figures from Frank Ballard’s 1980 production of The Ring of the Nibelungen, a Samurai puppet from the Japanese inland island of Awaji, a clown and nobleman from Java’s wayang golek traditions, two modernist rod puppets by famed puppeteer George Latshaw, an African puppet from Mali, a Russian rod puppet, and three over-life-sized masks by Frank Ballard.