Month: November 2019

Chinese Shadow Puppetry Forum with Dr. Rollins on 12/5 at 7 p.m.

For its last installment of the 2019 Fall Puppet Forum Series, and in conjunction with the exhibit Immaterial Remains: Can You Preserve a Shadow? curated by Dr. Annie Katsura Rollins, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host Chasing Ghosts: Ten Years with the Shadow Puppeteers of China with Dr. Rollins on Thursday, Dec. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

Dr. Rollins embarked on an initial research trip to China in 2008 to reconnect with her Chinese heritage, to gain unique shadow puppetry skills and techniques, and to eat some incredible food for the duration of that summer apprenticeship. What she left with at the end of the summer was an insatiable need to understand how this material performance form had been passed down for over a thousand years and what it means to steward transmitted heritage through performance and shadows. This talk reflects on over a decade of apprenticeship and research with the traditional shadow puppeteers of China and the importance and (im)possibilities of chasing our own ghosts. Co-sponsored by UConn’s Asian and Asian American Studies Institute and the UConn Asian American Cultural Center.

Dr. Rollins is a researcher, theatre artist, and practitioner of Chinese shadow puppetry, studying as a traditional apprentice since 2008. Rollins has received a Fulbright Fellowship, the Confucius Institute Joint PhD Research Fellowship and a Canadian SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship for her research. She wrote her dissertation in Concordia University’s Interdisciplinary Humanities PhD program on the transmission of traditional Chinese shadow puppet making methods. Recent venues for exhibitions, lectures and performances include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Montreal Botanical Gardens, the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, the Virginia Fine Arts Museum, the Linden Center in Yunnan, China, and the Rietveld Academie in the Netherlands. Annie has published articles in Puppetry International, Asian Theatre Journal and Anthropology Now. Rollins recently launched the first English language comprehensive Chinese shadow puppetry site at

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. Forums will be broadcast via Facebook Live. For more information or if you require an accommodation to attend a forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or

“Peter and the Wolf” by National Marionette Theatre on 12/7

As part of its 2019 Fall Puppet Performance Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to present Peter and the Wolf by National Marionette Theatre on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. This performance will be a part of Downtown Storrs’ 7th-annual Winter Welcome celebration.

Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf has enchanted audiences since its premier in 1936. Based on the original Russian folktale, National Marionette Theatre’s version of the story features the beautiful music from Prokofiev’s orchestral score combined with stunning scenery and hand-crafted marionettes. Set in turn-of-the-century Russia, the production tells the story of how Peter—along with his animal friends—captures the wolf. This show is 50 minutes long and is recommended for all ages.

National Marionette Theatre is one of the oldest continually running touring marionette theaters in the United States. Founded in 1967, this award-winning company has been entertaining and amazing audiences around the world for over forty years. The company specializes in adaptations of popular stories using marionettes as the performance medium. They travel with a fully self-contained theater complete with its own lighting and sound systems. The shows are suitable for family audiences of all ages. 

David J. Syrotiak has been building and performing with the company since his teenage years. As the son of artistic director David Syrotiak Sr., he has been around puppetry all his life. Professionally, David is celebrating his 33rd year as a touring puppeteer. He is dedicated to keeping the tradition of professional puppetry alive in the United States.

Mariana Palade Syrotiak’s relationship with puppetry began in 1987 in her native Romania. She entered the field professionally in 1990 when she was admitted to the Theatre and Film Academy in Bucharest, Romania, from which she graduated in 1994 with a BA in Performing Arts specializing in puppetry. In 1994 she met David Jr. in Charleville-Mézières, France at an international puppetry festival where they both were performing. In 1995 she met David Sr. in Saarbrucken, Germany under the same circumstances. In 1996 she joined both the National Marionette Theatre as well as the Syrotiak family. Currently Mariana is director of the English as a Second Language program at Gannon University. Mariana is equally passionate and committed to the arts, culture, and education. 

Ticket Prices: Adults: $12; Members/Seniors: $10; Students: $8; Kids: $6 (12 years and under).

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by calling 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 open seating and no reservations. Visitors can park in the Storrs Center Garage located at 33 Royce Circle. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1 per hour thereafter, with a daily maximum charge of $8. For more information about these performances or if you require an accommodation to attend this event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860-486-8580 or

The Ballard Institute’s presentation of Peter and the Wolf is a part of the 7th-annual Winter Welcome in Downtown Storrs. The Mansfield Downtown Partnership invites you to celebrate the start of the season with music and more! Enjoy a variety of fun activities, check some names off your shopping list, and join in a community sing-along! For more information, visit