Month: March 2014

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

The Ballard Institute’s Spring 2014 Puppet Forum Series features 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:

March 12: Grant Hayter-Menzies, Shadow Woman: The Extraordinary Career of Pauline Benton.

Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.  Author Grant Hayter-Menzies discusses his new book about Kansas-born puppeteer Pauline Benton (1898-1974) who discovered piyingxi shadow theater in Beijing, mastered its techniques, and popularized the form across the United States during the Great Depression.  In conjunction with the UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center.

March 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 at the Vanguard:  The Strident Voice and Radical Politics of Mexico’s Post-Revolutionary Teatro Guiñol.”

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.

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 work.

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.




“Objects, Environments, and Actants” Symposium at UConn March 29-30

How do objects and spaces perform? What role does the material world play in performance? On March 29-30, 2014, scholars and artists will gather for a symposium titled “Objects, Environments, and Actants: Intersections in Material Performance.” The symposium will take place at the new Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs Center, and is hosted by the Ballard Institute and the UConn Theatre Studies program.

This symposium asks us to think across disciplinary boundaries about objects and environments and their interactions with humans in performance. Drawing on recent scholarship in thing theory, material culture studies, puppetry studies, and object-oriented ontology, we will consider how puppets, props, costumes, masks, physical environments, and human actors intersect in performance.

The symposium will include scholarly papers, performances, roundtable discussions, and a tour of Jerry Rojo’s historic Mobius Theatre environmental performance space at the University of Connecticut’s Dramatic Arts Department.

Schedule (subject to change):

Saturday, March 29

9:00-9:30                     Coffee

9:30-10:00                   Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:00-11:25                 Panel 1: Action and Automata

John Bell (Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry & Department of Dramatic Arts, University of Connecticut), “Robots and Performance: the Persistent Theatricality of Machines”

Nick Knouf (Cinema and Media Studies, Wellesley College), “Noise, Parrhesia, and the Enunciative Potentials of Performing Objects”

Thomas Meacham (Theatre Studies, University of Connecticut), “The Boxley Rood of Grace as Actant: Puppetry and Object-Oriented Ontologies of Iterative Affective Performance””

11:35-1:00                    Panel 2: The Thing Chosen: How Objects Influence Performance

Elisha Conway (Department of English, McGill University), “Living Objects: Questions for Design and Acting in the Use of Puppets”

James Mirrione  (Theatre Department, United Arab Emirates University),“Concerning the Concealed: the mask and puppetry art of Louay Assaf with United Arab Emirati Female Students in Measure for Measure

Anna Fitzgerald (Puppet Arts Program, University of Connecticut), “A Thing Performed: Why and How to Choose an Inanimate Object on Stage”

1:00-2:00                      Lunch

2:00-3:00                     Performance and Discussion:

Adelka Polak (Artistic Director, SOVA Theater), “Environmental Entanglement”

3:05-4:35                      Panel 3: Subjects and Objects in Performance

Jane Shaw (Independent Artist), “Performing The Real Thing”

Theodora Skipitares (Pratt Institute), “Rituals of the Performing Object”

Dawn Brandes (University of King’s College), “Looking Back: The Puppet’s Gaze in Neville Tranter’s The Seven Deadly Sins

4:35-5:00                      Free time

5:00-6:00                    Tour of the Mobius Theatre at UConn’s Dramatic Arts Department

Led by Bart Roccoberton (Puppet Arts Program, University of Connecticut) and Jerry Rojo (Dramatic Arts, University of Connecticut, emeritus)

6:10-7:30                      Dinner

8:00                               Performance of Goblin Market

Directed by Penny Benson (Puppet Arts Program, University of Connecticut)

Sunday, March 3o

9:00-9:30                    Coffee

9:30-11:00                  Panel 4: Space, Place, and Scale

Lindsay Cummings (Theatre Studies, University of Connecticut), “How to Do Things with A Tuft of Grass: Theatre, Ecology, and the Non-Human Actor”

Jemma Alix Levy (Artistic Director, Muse of Fire Theatre Company), “Achilles’ Tent—A Place Within A Place”

Beth Milles (Department of Performing and Media Arts, Cornell University), “Occupation and Object: An Investigational Distillation—Over/taking Space and the Moment in Performance”

11:00-12:00                 Richard Schechner (Performance Studies, New York University),

“Environmental Theater and the Performance Group: A Conversation with Richard Schechner” (via Skype from Abu Dhabi)

12:00-12:30                Wrap up

12:30-1:00                  Goodbyes



To register for the symposium, follow this link to our registration form: Spring 2014 Symposium Registration Form

Completed forms can be sent to or mailed to:

Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry

Attn: Emily Wicks

1 Royce Circle, Suite 101B

University of Connecticut

Storrs, CT 06268

Contact information for local hotels can be found here: Places to Stay Near UConn

Objects, Environments, and Actants is organized by Lindsay Cummings, Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at UConn; John Bell, Director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry; and Emily Wicks, Program Assistant at the Ballard Institute.  Sponsored by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, the UConn Theatre Studies program, and the School of Fine Arts at the University of Connecticut.