Month: February 2014

UConn Puppet Forum Series will feature rich new facets of puppetry studies

The Ballard Institute’s Spring 2014 Puppet Forum Series will feature an array of fascinating approaches to the world of puppetry from renowned scholars, puppeteers, writers, and photographers in a program of Wednesday evening events at the new Ballard Institute at Storrs Center, 1 Royce Circle in downtown Storrs.  Each puppet forum will begin at 7:30 p.m., and will also be streamed on the internet.  These events are free and open to the public; donations are gratefully accepted.  Refreshments will be served.

The Puppet Forum series includes the following presentations:

DSC04601March 26: “Rod Puppets and the Human Theater: Frank Ballard Productions at  UConn”

Join a panel discussion with student curator Sarah Nolen, Puppet Arts faculty, and alumni about Frank Ballard’s rod puppet productions at UConn, the nature of rod puppetry, and the design, construction, and performance processes of this work.






April 9: Robert Herr, “Puppets and Proselytizing: Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Revolutionary Mexico’s Didactic Theater”

Co-sponsored by El Instituto.  Dr. Robert S. Herr, from Dartmouth College’s Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies Program, discusses the nature of 1920s and 30s activist puppet theater in Mexico, when artists, teachers and state officials collaborated to stage educational plays in working class neighborhoods and rural communities in an effort to foster revolutionary citizens.


Richard Termine

April 16: Richard Termine, “Puppets Through the Lens: Photography and the Performing Object”

Acclaimed photographer and UConn Puppet Arts graduate Richard Termine discusses the dynamics of capturing puppet performance via the camera, and his photographs in the current Ballard Institute exhibition devoted to his




April 30: Roman Paska, “The Quintessence of Puppetry”

Internationally acclaimed puppeteer, director, and writer Roman Paska discusses his work for live performance and film, as well as his theoretical writings about the nature of puppet performance.


“Reverse Cascade” – A New Puppet Arts Production – Premieres at The Ballard Institute March 1st!

A scene from Reverse Cascade (Photo by Richard Termine).

On Saturday, March 1st the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will inaugurate its brand-new black-box theater in its Storrs Center home with Reverse Cascade, a new Puppet Arts Production by MFA candidate Anna Fitzgerald.  The premiere performances of the production at 1:00 and 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 1 will coincide with the grand opening of the Storrs Center complex that day at 2 p.m.

In Fitzgerald’s new found-object puppet production juggling clubs, rings, scarves and clown noses transform before the audience to tell a story based on the life of Judy Finelli, the renowned San Francisco-based “new circus” performer and juggler whose body began to betray her. Eventually diagnosed with rapidly progressing Multiple Sclerosis, Finelli confronts the fact that she will lose the use of her body, and, it seems, her life’s work.

Reverse Cascade highlights the humanity of an artist and performer. At times both funny and tragic, the show the reveals the ups and downs of a life that seems to follow the bell curve of a “reverse cascade”  juggling pattern. In addition to careful puppetry manipulation, the production also features Michael Albaine and Nicholas Trauttman of UConn’s Music Department, who  accompany the performers with live original music.

There are nine chances to see this unique puppet performance, but seating is limited so reserve your tickets now at the Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s website. Tickets are $10 if purchased ahead online, $12 at the door, and $8 for students.


Opening – Saturday March 1st – 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (Ribbon Cutting  for the new Ballard Institute at 2 p.m.)
Sunday March 2 – 8 p.m.
Tuesday March 4 – 8 p.m.
Friday March 7 – 8 p.m.
Saturday March 8 – 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday March 9 – 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

New Ballard Institute at Storrs Center to Open Saturday, March 1 in a Gala Celebration

The new Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at Storrs Center will open its doors on Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Institute’s new address: 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs, Connecticut.  The festivities will celebrate three new exhibitions in the museum, and also the opening of the entire 1 Royce Circle complex, which includes the UConn Co-op Bookstore and Le Petit Café as well as the Ballard Institute.  The opening will also coincide with the production of the first theatrical performances in the Ballard Institute’s new performance space–Puppet Arts student Anna Fitzgerald’s master’s thesis project Reverse Cascade.  The opening ceremonies are free and open to the public.

The three new exhibitions featured in the Ballard Museum’s opening will focus on the puppetry of Frank Ballard, the photographic work of UConn Puppet Arts alumnus Richard Termine, and selections from the Ballard Institute’s vast collection of global puppet traditions.  These exhibitions will be on display through the end of May.

“The Rise and Fall of Timur the Lame” directed by Theodora Skipitares. Photograph by Richard Termine, copyright 2002.

Puppets through the Lens: Photography by Richard Termine features the revelatory work of Richard Termine, performing arts photographer for The New York Times, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, and an alumnus of UConn’s Puppet Arts Program.  In over 60 photographs Termine documents the amazing new energy of contemporary puppet performance, from giant spectacles on Broadway and in Las Vegas to avant-garde works of New York’s downtown scene; the set of Sesame Street, and exciting experiments from the Puppet Slam scene, the National Puppetry Conference, and other dynamic venues of the current puppet revival.


Frank Ballard rod puppet. Photograph by Sarah Nolen, copyright 2013.

Spectacular Extravaganzas: The Rod Puppetry of Frank Ballard focuses on the innovative use of rod puppets by Frank Ballard over the course of his career at UConn.  Ballard’s use of a variety of rod puppet techniques in rich spectacles featured scores of characters and lavish sets.   This exhibition, curated by Puppet Arts MFA student Sarah Nolen features figures made by UConn students for such productions as The Mikado, H.M.S. Pinafore, Petrushka, The Golden Cockerel, and The Ring of the Nibelung, offering a new perspective on a dynamic aspect of Frank Ballard’s work.



Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers marionettes by Rufus and Margo Rose. Photograph by Richard Termine, copyright 2012.

The World of Puppetry: From the Collections of the Ballard Institute showcases an array of different puppets carefully selected from over 2,600 puppets in the Ballard Institute collections to reflect the amazing richness of global puppet traditions and contemporary innovations in puppetry.  The exhibition’s array of handpuppets, marionettes, rod puppets, toy theaters, and shadow figures from around the world will include work by Rufus and Margo Rose, Charles Ludlam, Janie Geiser, Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin, Tony Sarg, Bil Baird, Frank Ballard, and puppets from Indonesia, Africa, Iran, Germany, England, Latin America, and France.