Month: March 2013

UConn Puppetry Will Be Featured in “World of Puppetry” Events at Windsor Art Center, March 16-April 27

Giant puppet by Anne Cubberly.

Scores of puppets created by Frank Ballard, UConn Puppet Arts students and teachers, and selections from the Ballard Institute puppet collections will be featured in The World of Puppetry, an exhibition of puppets and accompanying talks, performances, and workshops at the Windsor Art Center in Windsor Connecticut.  Curated by famed Hartford kinetic sculptor and puppeteer Anne Cubberly, The World of Puppetry will feature talks by Puppet Arts Director Bart Roccoberton (April 7), Ballard Institute Director John Bell (April 14), a Puppet Pot Pie Puppet Slam organized by Puppet Arts Technical Supervisor Paul Spirito (April 6), and performances by UConn Puppet Arts alumnus Jim Napolitano (April 18), as well as workshops and presentations by Anne Cubberly herself.

The opening reception for The World of Puppetry is Saturday, March 16.  See below for a full schedule of events.


The World of Puppetry

Opening Reception March 16, 5-7 PM

Members’ Preview 4:30 PM

The exhibition will feature puppets by UConn Puppet Arts founder Frank Ballard.

Please join us at the Windsor Art Center for this exhibition of puppets, talks, performances and workshops to learn more about the World of Puppetry. Curated by kinetic sculptor, Anne Cubberly. A special thank you to the Puppets Arts Program and Bart Roccoberton, and the Ballard Museum and John Bell, University of Connecticut, Storrs, for the loan of puppets for this exhibition.

Thursday, March, 21 • 6:30-7:30 PM. How I Became The Puppet Lady. Anne Cubberly will talk about her adventures in becoming a kinetic sculptor and community artist. FREE.

Saturday, April 6 • 2-4 PM. Puppet Pot Pie. A program bringing together wonderful puppeteers from our region. Fun for the whole family. Suggested donation: $10/adults; $5/kids 6-12; kids 5 and under FREE.

Sunday, April 7 • 1-2 PM. Behind The Puppet Stage. Talk by Bart Roccoberton, Professor of Puppet Arts, University of Connecticut. FREE.

Saturday, April 13 • 2-4. PM Puppets Alive workshop with Anne Cubberly. Children of all ages make their own puppets. Suggested donation: $5/door.

The exhibition will also include Tolu Bommalatta shadow figures from Andhra Pradesh, from the Jano Fairservis Collection.

Sunday, April 14 • 2 PM. Puppets, Modernism, and Global Culture. Talk by John Bell, Director, Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry. FREE.

Thursday April 18 • 6:30-7:30 PM. Puppet theater performance with Jim Napolitano of Nappy’s Puppets to entertain, inspire and educate the audience on the range and scope of puppetry as an art form. Suggested donation: $10/door

Saturday, April 20 • 2-4 PM. Shadow Puppet workshop with Anne Cubberly, Puppeteer. Children and adults. Suggested donation: $5/door.

All events will take place at the Windsor Arts Center, located at the corner of Central Street and Mechanic Street in downtown Windsor, Connecticut, just north of Hartford.  The Arts Center is open Thursday 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.   See the Windsor Arts Center website for directions.

March 13 Puppet Forum Will Celebrate Manteo Family’s Sicilian Puppetry in New York City

Tony De Nonno and a Sicilian marionette. Photo courtesy Tony De Nonno.

Join us Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Ballard Institute to welcome producer-writer-director Tony De Nonno in a celebration of the Manteo Family Sicilian marionette tradition, which for many decades in the early 20th century was a hallmark of New York City’s cultural life.   De Nonno’s lecture, presentation, and marionette demonstration will feature live performances of the colorful and vivid Sicilian marionette tradition, as well as a screening of De Nonno’s film about the Manteo Family, It’s One Family: Knock on Wood.

Showcasing the extraordinary power of Sicilian marionettes with puppets from the Manteo Family collection, De Nonno will take us on an enlightening journey into the life and legacy of puppeteers Mike and Aida Manteo and their children and grandchildren, a family bound together by a Sicilian folk tradition that spans a century in America, from the moment when the Manteo Marionette Theater was first established on Mulberry Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy in 1918.

Aida Manteo Grillo with Orlando, hero of Sicilian puppetry. Photo courtesy Tony De Nonno.

De Nonno’s presentation will engage the audience as active participants to marvel at the marionettes, resplendent in their suits of armor, who will strut, walk, talk and engage in battle-ready combat stances with chivalrous aplomb.

De Nonno will then introduce It’s One Family: Knock on Wood, his award-winning, nationally broadcast PBS Network documentary about the Manteos.

“I am looking forward to sharing this magnificent and enduring art form with everyone in attendance at the Ballard Museum of Puppetry,” Mr. De Nonno has said; “and especially revealing to them how the glorious Sicilian Marionette tradition contributed greatly to the birth of literature, history and so much more. It will be a joyous and memorable experience for all.”

Aida Manteo Grillo, “Papa” Mike Manteo, and Leo. Photo courtesy Tony De Nonno.

This event is free, and donations are greatly appreciated.  Refreshments will be served.  For directions to the Ballard Institute see this link.

For more info about Tony De Nonno please visit:

Ballard Museum Gala Opening Saturday, March 30

Join us Saturday, March 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Ballard Museum on UConn’s Depot Campus for our gala opening and celebration of two new exhibitions of extraordinary puppetry:  Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers, and Strings, Rods, and Robots: Recent Acquisitions.

Rod puppets by Dick Myers. Photo by Sara Nolen.

Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers is the first-ever exhibition devoted to the unique puppetry of Dick Myers, an unusually skilled—yet now relatively unknown—artist, engineer, and performer whose one-man shows excited audiences around the world in the mid-20th century.  This fascinating exhibition, curated by Puppet Arts MFA student Seth Shaffer, features Myers’ one-of-a-kind designs for Dick Whittington’s Cat (1966), Cinderella (1968), Beauty and the Beast (1972), Simple Simon (1976) and Divertissement (1978), as well as backstage views of Myers’ unique designs.



Marionette by Sally Smart. Photo courtesy of Contemporary Art Galleries.

Strings, Rods, and Robots: Recent Acquisitions showcases the exhilarating diversity of puppets from around the world recently acquired by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.  Curated by UConn Art and Art History graduate student Lindsay Simon, the exhibition juxtaposes ancient puppet traditions with Modernist interpretations, with objects ranging from Vietnamese water puppets, Persian ritual rod puppets, and Javanese shadow puppets to 1930s Alabama marionettes, department store automata by Ellen Rixford, a lifesize robotic marionette by French media artist Zaven Paré, traditional Egyptian shadow puppets, a Dada-inspired marionette by Australian artist Sally Smart, and a stunning array of global puppet forms collected by John E. and Marilyn O’Connor Miller.



The Gala Opening Day events will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony with UConn School of Fine Arts Dean Bríd Grant, followed by guided tours of the exhibitions led by the curators.  At 3 p.m., Seth Shaffer and revered puppeteer Allelu Kurten, a longtime friend of Dick Myers, will discuss Myers’s work in a special UConn Puppet Forum in the Ballard Institute Conference Room.

Refreshments will be served throughout the event.

Following the Gala Opening, the Ballard Museum will be open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.  Admission to the museum is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

For more information about the Gala Opening, email  Make sure to check our facebook page for regular updates on Ballard Institute activities.

For directions and map to the Ballard Institute see this link.