Month: November 2011

The Art of the Frouds at Nafe Katter Theater

     Join us this Wednesday, November 30, at 3 p.m. at UConn’s Nafe Katter Theater for The Art of the Frouds.
This presentation by Brian, Wendy, and Toby Froud will explore their work illuminating the realm of Faeries and other mystical beings, in their own publications and in collaboration with Jim Henson in The Dark CrystalLabyrinth, and Jim Henson’s Storyteller series.  It precedes the December 2nd opening of their exhibition The Art of the Frouds at the Animazing Gallery in New York City.
     Brian Froud is the renowned author and illustrator of more than 30 publications which explore and illuminate the realm of the Faeries and other mystical beings.  Collaborating with Jim Henson, Brian Froud created the worlds and characters of The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and contributed to Henson’s Storyteller series.
     Wendy Midener Froud is a life-long doll maker, sculptor and puppet fabricator.  Jim Henson, recognizing her exceptional abilities,  hired her to create the characters of “Jen” and “Kira” for The Dark Crystal.  She also fabricated “Yoda” for Star Wars and the Goblins for Labyrinth.  Her polymer sculpted faerie figures have been exhibited throughout the world, leading to many publications revealing the stories of her characters, as well as the methods of their creation.
     Toby Froud, first seen as the infant “Toby” in Labyrinth, has been surrounded and nurtured in the creative lives of his parents.  He has apprenticed in the Muppet Workshop, worked with WETA in New Zealand as a sculptor/fabricator on The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong and created for numerous theatre and television productions.  Most recently, Toby has contributed to Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour and Laika Entertainment’s pending ParaNorman.
The event is sponsored by UConn Puppet Arts Program, Digital Media Center, Department of Dramatic Arts, and the Ballard Institute.

“World of Puppetry” Exhibition at Bradley International Airport extended through January 2012!

A compelling exhibition of over 70 Ballard Institute puppets from around the world at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut (just north of Hartford) has been extended through January, 2012.  Originally scheduled to close in November, this popular display of world puppetry traditions will now be on display for holiday travelers.

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.

Click here to read more about the exhibition.

New children’s book about famed puppeteer Tony Sarg draws on UConn puppetry expertise

Children’s book author and illustrator Melissa Sweet drew on UConn puppetry sources for her  celebrated new children’s book Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade, which chronicles the story of legendary American puppeteer Tony Sarg and his 1920s invention of the inflatable puppets for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades.

Sweet, who did much of her research for the book at the The Nantucket Historical Association, the home of a large Tony Sarg collection, conferred with both Puppet Arts head Bart Roccoberton and Ballard Institute director John Bell to better understand Sarg’s innovative work from a puppeteer’s perspective.  Sarg, the most innovative and influential American puppeteer in the first half of the 20th century, was designing store windows and newspaper advertisements for Macy’s when the company asked him to create puppets for a new concept: a Thanksgiving Day parade.  Sarg’s designs for giant inflatable puppets have made the parade one of the most popular public spectacles in modern culture.

With captivating drawings and collages Sweet patiently and clearly tells the story of how Sarg’s experience with string marionettes allowed him to make a creative and conceptual leap to a new art form: helium-filled inflatable puppets operated from below–in other words, upside-down marionettes.  Sweet’s book has received glowing reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and from New York Times Book Review critic Pete Hamill, who wrote that Sweet’s “brilliant combination of collage, design, illustration and text gives Balloons Over Broadway an amazing richness,” adding that no one who reads the book “will ever see the parade in the same way.”

Fall Forum Series November 18 to December 7 features renowned puppeteers and scholars

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry’s 2011 Fall Forum series will feature talks with and by significant American scholars and puppeteers on Wednesday and Friday evenings from November 18th through December 7th.  Fall Forum speakers include Erminio Pinque, Dan Butterworth, John Emigh, Richard Termine and Bart Roccoberton.  This season’s forums are designed to complement the Ballard Institute’s current exhibitions devoted to Frank Ballard, the founder of the UConn Puppetry Program and namesake of the Institute.

All Fall Forum talks will start at 7:30 p.m. at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry on the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus, and are free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.  The Fall Forum series includes the following presentations:

Friday, November 18: “Puppetry and Mask Performance Off Stage and Out of Bounds: Creature Theatre in a Human Landscape” with Erminio Pinque of Big Nazo

Creature creations by Big Nazo.

The series begins on Friday, November 18 with Erminio Pinque, the founder and director of Big Nazo, the Providence, Rhode Island-based international performance group of visual artists, puppet performers, and masked musicians who unite to create bizarre and hilarious larger-than-life sized characters, environments, and spectacles.

Wednesday, November 30: “Puppet Work with Inuit in the Far North” by Dan Butterworth

Based in Pascoag, Rhode Island, Dan Butterworth makes intricately hand carved puppets in a unique cacophony of puppet styles and genres.  Dan and his puppets have performed in movies, operas, classical music festivals and TV specials.  On Wednesday, November 30 at the Ballard Institute, Dan will speak about his recent work with Inuit people in the Arctic preserving ancient oral stories using marionettes made from native materials.  He will also discuss his work inventing “Wheelchair Theaters”: mobile effects platforms using wheelchairs, which he has performed in hospitals, schools, and with veterans groups.

Friday, December 2: John Emigh on Southeast Asian Puppetry

John Emigh thanking his audience at a Balinese Topeng performance.

On Friday, December 2, internationally renowned theater historian John Emigh of Brown University will discuss the influence of Southeast Asian puppetry on American puppet traditions of the 20th and 21st century.  Julie Taymor, Bread and Puppet Theater, San Francisco’s Larry Reed, and Frank Ballard himself were all affected by the stunning power and cultural significance of South Asian puppet traditions, which have seeped into their work and that of many other puppeteers.  Professor Emigh, himself a brilliant student of Balinese Topeng masked dance, will trace these connections and their importance to modern American culture.

Wednesday, December 7: Symposium on the work of Frank Ballard, with Bart Roccoberton, Richard Termine, and UConn Puppet Alumni

On the occasion of the late Frank Ballard’s 82nd birthday, Wednesday, December 7, former students and colleagues of this  influential puppet master will meet to talk about Professor Ballard’s work and its significance.  Join UConn Puppet Arts Program head Bart Roccoberton; celebrated Sesame Street puppeteer and New York Times photographer Richard Termine, and members of UConn’s large network of Puppet Alumni in a discussion of Frank Ballard’s influences, teaching, performance style, and production methods.

Richard Termine
Bart Roccoberton