Month: January 2015

2015 Spring Puppet Forum Series

2015 Spring Puppet Forum Series

Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m. (note new time)

Ballard Institute Theater at Storrs Center


Wednesday, February 11: Matthew Cohen, “Playing with Shadows in the Dark”

Scholar and puppeteer Matthew Cohen, an expert historian and performer of Javanese wayang golek rod puppet theater and other forms, talks about his research and performance work.  Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.

lantern%20headsWednesday, March 11: Anne Cubberly, “Making Art with Your Community”

Acclaimed Hartford visual artist and spectacle-maker Anne Cubberly, voted “Best Artist” in a 2014 Hartford Magazine poll, talks about her extensive work in Hartford, always with a focus on creativity, process, community, and re-purposed materials.


Wednesday, April 8: Fred Thompson, “Masters of the Marionette: Rufus and Margo Rose”

Puppeteer and teacher Fred Thompson, a mainstay of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Puppetry Conference, first saw Rufus and Margo Rose perform in 1947, and has had a long and illustrious career in Connecticut as a teacher and maker of dance, theater, and puppetry.

_MG_2178Wednesday, April 15: Hua Hua Zhang, “My Work in Chinese and American Puppetry”

UConn Puppet Arts alumna Hua Hua Zhang first studied classic Chinese puppetry techniques at the Beijing Art Academy in her home city. After receiving many awards for her performances as a member of the China Puppet Arts Troupe, she came to UConn’s Puppet Arts Program, earning her MFA degree in 2000. Currently the director of the Philadelphia-based company Visual Expressions, she designs and performs her own work in the U.S. and China, collaborates with such artists as composer Tan Dun.  Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.

Admission to these events is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. Forums will also be live-streamed on our page: For more information, call 860.486.8580 or email

2015 Spring Puppet Performance Series

Afternoon shows for family audiences!

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host its Spring Puppet Performance Series on four Saturdays from February to May 2015, featuring outstanding works for puppet theater by professional puppeteers. There will be two showings of each production, at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., in the Ballard Institute Theater located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs Center. Productions and dates include:

elephant_turtleFebruary 21: The Lion and the Mouse and Other Tales by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre.

With beautiful puppets and scenery, and their signature hilarious style, the award-winning Crabgrass Puppet Theatre presents tales from Africa, Asia and Europe that will inspire and enthrall children of all sizes.

linderpix-4456March 14: Squirrel Stole My Underpants by They Gotta Be Secret Agents.

A lonely, awkward girl is sent out to the backyard to hang up the laundry and keep herself busy. The moment Sylvie’s back is turned, a mischievous squirrel appears, steals her favorite piece of clothing and runs off. When the girl gives chase, she finds herself lost in strange lands. As the story unfolds, an entire world emerges from her laundry basket and Sylvie learns that she is a strong girl with magic within herself. 

Sheep HandpuppetsApril 11: Hao Bang Ah, Sheep! by Chinese Theatre Works.

Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. This variety-style program directed by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, features a jolly selection of hand-puppet vignettes, many based on popular songs and well-known Chinese sayings. While some parts of the program are performed in Chinese, all include English translations and explanations. The audience will be introduced to other animals of the Chinese zodiac, and also learn about Chinese New Year customs and foods. Audience participation makes this Chinese culture and language-learning experience accessible to even the youngest audience member.

ADalanginSearchofWayangCohenMay 2: Arjuna’s Meditation by Matthew Cohen, with Gamelan Si Betty, directed by Jody Diamond.

Co-sponsored by the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. Renowned scholar and Javanese wayang kulit shadow puppet performer Matthew Cohen is joined by Harvard University’s Gamelan Si Betty, directed by Jody Diamond, to present a classic Javanese puppet play about one of the great heroes of the Hindu epic The Mahabharata.

Ticket Prices: Adults: $10; Students: $7; Kids: $5

Tickets will be sold in advance through the Connecticut Repertory Theatre Box Office located in the lobby of the Nafe Katter Theatre at 820 Bolton Rd, Storrs CT 06269. Tickets may be purchased in person at the box office, by calling (860) 486-2113, or online through the CRT website. A $3.00 surcharge will be added to any purchases made online or over the phone. Tickets may be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the days of performances. There will be a limited number of seats. For more information about these shows, call (860) 486-8580.

2015 UConn Winter Puppet Slam, Friday, February 6 at 8 p.m.

James Godwin in performance. Photograph by Jim Moore.

James Godwin in performance. Photograph by Jim Moore.

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the UConn Puppet Arts Program will present the 2015 UConn Winter Puppet Slam on Friday, February 6 at 8:00 p.m. in the Dramatic Arts Department’s Studio Theatre. The UConn Winter Puppet Slam will feature short works by professional puppeteers, including famed New York City performer James Godwin, and the Semi-Upright Puppet Theater (UConn Puppet Arts graduate Joe Therrien and Bread & Puppet Theater veteran Jason Hicks), as well as new works by talented students from UConn’s Puppet Arts, Digital Media & Design, and Art Programs. The UConn Winter Puppet Slam is supported by a generous grant from the Puppet Slam Network.

James Godwin is renowned in New York’s prolific downtown performance scene, writing and performing in such popular productions as Uncle Jimmy’s Dirty Basement; but also works regularly with the Muppets, Julie Taymor, and such musical acts as David Bowie and Aerosmith. At the UConn Winter Puppet Slam Godwin will present Rooty, the story of a lonely plant who finds itself in a battle to save his sanity in the face of solitary confinement; and Simulation Theory, a poetic visual narrative that explores identity, reality and possession in the American workplace. Jason Hicks and Joe Therrien’s Semi-Upright Puppet Theater, also based in New York City, will return to UConn with their own lively brand of activist “cheap art” puppetry that brings the iconoclastic spirit of Punch and Judy into the 21st century with such popular favorites as their super-hero serial Weasel. In addition to new works by UConn’s acclaimed Puppet Arts Program students, the UConn Winter Puppet Slam will also feature new works for film animation by Art and Digital Media students.

The Puppet Slam movement is a nation-wide flowering of short puppet productions for adult audiences, encouraged by the Puppet Slam Network created by Heather Henson and Marsian De Lellis. UConn Puppet Slams have been taking place since 2008, thanks to the generous support of the Puppet Slam Network.

The UConn Winter Puppet Slam is free and open to the public; donations are greatly appreciated. The event will take place in the Studio Theatre located at 820 Bolton Rd, Storrs, CT. For directions to the Studio Theatre, visit For more information, call the Ballard Institute at (860) 486-8580 or email us at