Month: September 2015

2015 UConn Fall Puppet Slam

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the UConn Puppet Arts Program will present the 2015 UConn Fall Puppet Slam on Saturday, October 3 at 8:00 p.m. in UConn’s J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall. The UConn Fall Puppet Slam will feature short works by professional puppeteers, including Massachusetts-based puppeteers Brad Shur and Madison J. Cripps, as well as new works by talented students from UConn’s Puppet Arts Program. The UConn Fall Puppet Slam is supported by the Puppet Slam Network.

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 Network.

The UConn Fall Puppet Slam is free and open to the public; donations are greatly appreciated. The event will take place in the J. Louis von der Mehden Recital Hall located at 875 Coventry Rd, Storrs, CT. These performances are recommended for mature audiences. For more information, call the Ballard Institute at (860) 486-8580, visit, or email us at

2015 Fall Puppet Forum Series

As part of its Fall Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host four forum events on Wednesdays in September through December at 7 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs Center.

The Fall Puppet Forum schedule includes:

September 23: Margarita Blush: “Unfolding the Story”

Join Puppet Arts Program Assistant Professor Margarita Blush in a discussion about the creation of her new international production Unfolding, which is being presented at the Ballard Institute September 18-20 and 25-27. For this original puppet production a diverse group of artists have come together to create a work delving into the themes of women’s wisdom and empowerment. The show features hand-crafted puppets, live acting, unique design, and original music.

October 28: Professor Sumarsam: “Javanese Puppet Theater and the West”

Javanase musician and scholar Sumarsam of Wesleyan University talks about the hybrid nature of Javanese wayang kulit shadow theater in the context of his fascinating new book, Javanese Gamelan and the West. Professor Sumarsam’s work analyzes the adaptations in gamelan art as a result of Western colonialism in nineteenth-century Java, showing how Western musical and dramatic practices were domesticated by Javanese performers to create hybrid Javanese-Western art forms, such as with the introduction of brass bands in traditional court music and western theatrical idioms in contemporary wayang puppet plays.

November 18: Tim Hunter, Samantha Olschan, and Honey Goodenough: “Puppetry and Digital Performance in Boston Hospitals”

Join us in a discussion of the exciting contemporary intersections of puppetry, digital performance, and medicine as we focus on two projects currently underway at Boston Children’s Hospital: the Interactive Media Wall designed by Professors Tim Hunter, Samanthan Olschan, and others in UConn’s Digital Media & Design Department, and the work puppeteer Honey Goodenough has been doing with the hospital’s Simulator Program.

December 2: Ines Zeller Bass and Eric Bass: “Sandglass Theater, from Thought to Image”

In conjunction with their retrospective exhibition at the Ballard Institute, Eric and Ines Zeller Bass describe their creation process with multiple collaborators over the past thirty years of Sandglass Theater productions. Marking the trajectory of this famed Vermont puppet company, Eric and Ines will trace Sandglass’ development from more dreamlike pieces to characters and themes strongly rooted in a more recognizable Vermont world, even as the puppets themselves remain metaphorical.

Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. Come early, and experience our puppet exhibitions, as well as the video resources in our library nook. This forum will also be live-streamed on our UStream page:



Down the Rabbit Hole: Ballard Celebrates 150 years of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This past Saturday and Sunday, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry offered fall community puppet-building workshops with acclaimed Boston puppeteer Sara Peattie.

This year’s free workshops held at the Ballard Institute workshop space celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Participants brought the colorful and fantastic figures that popular Carroll’s fanciful world to life, rendering the White Rabbit, the Red Queen, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, and the eponymous Alice into puppet form.

Workshop participants are invited to parade with their puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade that will be held on Sunday, September 20 at noon (Line-up begins at 11am at Farrell Field near the Post Office). The parade is part of the 12th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival.

Sara Peattie’s dramatic puppet creations have been featured at community parades and pageants across the United States. Long a mainstay of Boston First Night festivities and the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade in New York City, Sara Peattie’s work—through her Boston-based Puppeteers Cooperative company and Puppet Free Library—combines community participation, simple, cheap, and practical puppet-building techniques, and a brilliant design sense that allows community members of all ages to take part in the age-old pleasures of participatory puppet performance in public spaces. Sara recently designed and directed the community puppet parade and pageant in Storrs Center as part of the 2015 Puppeteers of America National Puppetry Festival.

For information on the 12th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival, visit

2015 Fall Puppet Performance Series

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host its Fall Puppet Performance Series on four Saturdays from October to December 2015, featuring outstanding works for puppet theater by professional puppeteers from the Northeast. 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:

CrippsPuppetsHeadshot300October 3: “Cripps Puppets: A Slice of Crazy Pie in 7 to 11 Acts” by Madison J. Cripps Join Madison and his cabaret style marionettes in this zany interactive show fun for the whole family. Each hand-carved marionette is a character unto itself! With original songs, harmonica and creative puns.


spooky-sillySmallOctober 24: “Spooky-Silly Sing-A-Long” by Nappy’s Puppets 
Join in the fun as Jim Napolitano of Nappy’s Puppets presents some of the silliest sing-a-long songs known to man and monster alike!



Isidor27s CheekWeb November 14: “Isidor’s Cheek” by Sandglass Theater The award-winning classic performed by Ines Zeller Bass on a revolving stage. One day, Isidor’s cheek runs away, and he must search around the world to find it.



Fall2015SeriesDecember 5: “Lollipops for Breakfast” by Bonnie Duncan A marvelous confection of friendship, invention, and adventure! You can’t have lollipops for breakfast! But today, Sylvie decides she’s going to break that rule, even if it means she has to make her own amazingly perfect lollipop from scratch. The show concludes with an interactive kids’ dance party!

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, visit or call (860) 486-8580.

“Unfolding” by Margarita Blush on 9/18-9/20 and 9/25-9/27

Margarita Blush and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry present


An original puppet theatre production

Friday, September 18, 7:30pm: Opening and Reception

Saturday, September 19, 7:30pm: Show; 9pm: Talkback

Sunday, September 20, 5pm: Show

Friday, September 25, 7:30pm: Show

Saturday, September 26, 7:30pm: Show; 9pm: Talkback

Sunday, September 27, 2pm: Show

Ticket Prices:

Adults: $15, Students: $10

Tickets can be purchased with CASH ONLY at the Ballard Institute one hour before the performances.

Recommended for audiences ages 10 and up

Unfolding is a new international project in which a diverse group of artists come together to create an original puppet theatre production delving into the themes of women’s wisdom and empowerment.

The show features hand-crafted puppets, live acting, unique design, and original music.

The international creative team for Unfolding is comprised of Bulgarian-American director and project lead Margarita Blush (who is also faculty at the UConn Puppet Arts Program), Bulgarian scenographer Dimitar Dimitrov, American performers Lucia Rich, Ceili Clemens, and Sarah Nolen, Iranian-American composer and musician Amir Khosrowpour, American lighting designer Adam Lobelson, and American dramaturg Lindsay Cummings.

Tickets can be purchased with CASH ONLY at the Ballard Institute one hour before the performances. For more information contact the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at or 860-486-8580.