Month: August 2016

Free Community Puppet-Building Workshop, 9/10-9/11

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will once again offer fall community puppet-building workshops with acclaimed Boston puppeteer Sara Peattie, to design and build life-size and over-life-size puppets of Shakespeare characters for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade in downtown Storrs, Connecticut. These free workshops will take place Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the Ballard Institute workshop space in Storrs Center. Workshop participants will be invited to parade with their puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, September 18 at noon (Line-up begins at 11:00 AM at Farrell Field near the Post Office), and then help perform iconic Shakespeare monologues, dialogues, and fight scenes on the Town Square. The Parade is a part of the 13th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival.

As part of university-wide events celebrating the September exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio at UConn, this year’s puppet-building workshops will focus on the creation of eminent characters from Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies. Which Shakespeare characters would you like to see larger than life in downtown Storrs? Romeo and Juliet? Hamlet? Lady Macbeth? Othello? Join us and Sara Peattie to realize your Shakespearean dreams! Published in 1623, the First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, and only 235 copies are known today. This year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sending a First Folio to every state in the United States, and UConn has been selected as the host site for Connecticut. Join us in September 1-25, 2016 in celebrating the greatest playwright of the English language with this exhibit from the world’s largest Shakespeare collection.

Celebrated in a recent front-page Boston Globe article as “the legendary keeper of one of the Back Bay’s best-kept secrets,” Sara Peattie and her dramatic puppet creations have been central features of 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 to allow community members of all ages to take part in the age-old pleasures of participatory puppet performance in public spaces.

No experience is necessary to participate in these free community puppet-building workshops with Sara Peattie. Minors must be accompanied by an adult. To register for the workshop, contact the Ballard Institute at or 860.486.8580.

This community puppet project is sponsored by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut and the Mansfield Downtown Partnership, Inc. For more information about the 13th Annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival, visit

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeareon tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, is a national travelling exhibition organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2016 of Shakespeare’s death. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and Cincinnati Museum Center. First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of, The Lord Browne of Madingley, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, British Council, Stuart and Mimi Rose, Albert and Shirley Small, and other generous donors. To learn more about the First Folio at UConn, visit


Free Tour at the Ballard Institute before ET on the Town Square on 8/19

As part of its Moonlight Movies series, the Mansfield Downtown Partnership will offer a free screening of E. T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL on Friday, August 19. Activities begin at 7 p.m. and the movie begins at dusk on the Mansfield Town Square.
Before the movie starts, come to Storrs Center for family-friendly activities starting at 7 p.m., including a themed dinner at Dog Lane Cafe, the UConn Dairy Bar Ice Cream Truck, and hands-on fun for kids in the Town Square.

The Ballard Institute will join in the fun with extended museum hours and a free guided tour at 7:30 p.m. of our current exhibits, The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit and The World of Puppetry: From the Collections of the Ballard Institute.

For more information about this event, visit


2016 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 September to December 2016, featuring outstanding works for puppet theater by professional puppeteers from across the Northeast and beyond. Each show will be performed twice, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. All performances will take place at the Ballard Institute Theater located at 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, CT. Productions and dates include:

Pirate Princess Map1 2September 24: The Pirate, the Princess and the Pea by Crabgrass Puppet Theatre

Take one bumbling buccaneer. Add one problem-solving princess. Throw in a stack of mattresses with a pea on the bottom, and put the pirate on top. Season liberally with shipwrecks, sea monsters and side-splitting action, and you have the recipe for one hilarious adventure on the high seas! Presented by Vermont-based Crabgrass Puppet Theatre, founded by UConn Puppet Arts alumni Jamie Keithline and Bonny Hall.

RumpelstilskinOctober 15: Rumpelstilskin by Dream Tale Puppets

In this adaptation of Rumpelstiltskin, the well-known German folktale, Dream Tale Puppets uses beautifully crafted table-top puppets to tell the story of a girl, Kathleen, whose father puts her life in danger after he lies to the king saying that she can spin straw to gold. Created by Polish-born puppeteer and mime Jacek Zuzanski, now based on Cape Cod.

TheDoubtfulSproutNovember 5: The Doubtful Sprout by Liz Joyce & A Couple of Puppets

 Get ready to explore the world under your feet in this underground puppet adventure. Tunnel down with Worm and Sprout as they discover the mysterious life found inside soil. Along the way, kids help figure out the secrets that help Sprout grow! Created and performed by puppeteer extraordinaire Liz Joyce, Director of Goat on a Boat Puppet Theater in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Snowflake Man -3 (1)December 3: The Snowflake Man by Puppetkabob

Vermont native and UConn Puppet Arts alumna Sarah Frechette’s story of The Snowflake Man is inspired by Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley, the self-educated Vermont farmer and scientist who attracted world attention when he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. The Snowflake Man swings audiences into the historic 1920s through creative storytelling, intricately designed Czech-style marionettes, and a striking pop-up book of watercolor scenery.

Ticket Prices: Adults: $12; Students: $8; Kids: $6 (12 years and under)

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by phone at 860.486.8580, or online at A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the day of performance starting at 10 a.m. There will be a limited number of seats. For more information about these performances, call 860.486.8580.

All sales are final — there are no refunds.