Month: January 2020

2020 Spring Puppet Forum Series

For its 2020 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host four free scintillating discussions with nationally and internationally acclaimed puppeteers, scholars, and artists on Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. in February through April in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. The forums will illuminate new perspectives on the creation, history, aesthetics, and performance of puppetry today. 

The Spring Puppet Forum schedule will include the following talks: 

Thursday, Feb. 20: “Walt Whitman and Lively Materiality” with Jane Bennett

Internationally famed scholar Jane Bennett, of Johns Hopkins University, is an interdisciplinary political theorist and philosopher best known in the puppetry world for her work on “the material world in performance,” especially her influential bestseller Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Drawing from her new book Influx and Efflux: Writing Up with Walt Whitman, Professor Bennett will speak about Whitman’s sense of “lively materiality” and the implications such ideas for puppetry studies and other subjects. Co-sponsored by UConn’s Philosophy, Political Science, and English Departments, Humanities Institute, and American Studies Program. 

CANCELLED: Thursday, March 26: “Puppets and Little Shop of Horrors” with Martin P. Robinson, Rob Cutler, and Will Smith

Join famed Sesame Street puppeteer Martin P. Robinson and Puppet Arts graduate students Rob Cutler and Will Smith in a discussion of puppetry and Little Shop of Horrors. Robinson, who designed, built, and performed all of the Audrey II puppets for the original Off-Broadway production of Little Shop, as well as for its Broadway incarnation, will talk with Cutler and Smith about the design and performance of puppets for the professional stage, in the context of Smith and Cutler’s work on the upcoming Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s April 23-May 3 production of Little Shop. Special ticket discounts for the CRT production will be available at this event!

CANCELLED: Thursday, April 2: Things That Act Shakespeare” with Jungmin Song

Professor Jungmin Song discusses the ideas behind her new Ballard Institute exhibition Shakespeare and Puppetry, which questions our preconceptions of character and asks what it means for objects to have stage presence. Jungmin will consider Shakespeare productions by such puppeteers and performers as Forced Entertainment, Hogarth Puppets, and the Little Angel Theatre from England; ShadowLight Productions, Fred Curchack, Jim Rose, Bread and Puppet Theater, and Great Small Works from the U.S.; and Dov Weinstein from Israel. 

CANCELLED: Wednesday, April 29: “Engineering in Puppetry” with Ed Weingart

Preceded by a special 6 p.m. reception for Engineering and Fine Arts students, faculty, staff, and the general public, this forum features Professor Ed Weingart, Technical Director of UConn’s Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Weingart will discuss how engineering and puppetry have been deeply intertwined in his work with famed puppeteer Basil Twist’s 2015 New York production of Sisters Follies: Between Two Worlds, and visual artist Jordan Wolfson 2016 puppet installation Colored Sculpture. The essence of puppetry is the movement of objects in time and space, practices which are also at the heart of mechanical engineering and the theatrical work of rigging. How is such movement achieved in modern art and theater in the performance of engineering in puppetry?  Co-sponsored by the UConn Schools of Engineering and Fine Arts. 

Admission to these events 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


2020 Spring Puppet Performance Series

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host its 2020 Spring Puppet Performance Series on four Saturdays from February to May 2020, featuring outstanding works of puppet theater by professional puppeteers from across New England 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 in Downtown Storrs. 

The schedule of the Spring Puppet Performance Series includes the following:

Feb. 29: Paul Vincent Davis’s Raccoon Tales performed by Brad Shur of Paper Heart Puppets

The animals in the forest are always getting into trouble playing tricks on each other. Will they learn their lessons? This hand-puppet show by famed Boston puppeteer Paul Vincent Davis includes three humorous tales inspired by Native American stories of the Seneca Tribe: How the Fox and the Raccoon Trick Each Other; Why the Blue Jay is Blue and the Gray Wolf Isn’t; and Why the Bear has a Stumpy Tail. This show is 45 minutes long and is recommended for ages 4+. Presented in conjunction with the grand opening of two new exhibits, including Paul Vincent Davis and the Art of Puppet Theater, on Feb. 29 at noon! 

CANCELLED: March 14: She Thinks She’s Queen Elizabeth But She’s Dirty Gerts To Me by PuppetKabob

Have you ever heard the phrase: “She thinks she’s Queen Elizabeth, but she’s Dirty Gerts to me!”? No? Well now that you have, come and explore the story behind the saying in PuppetKabob’s latest pop-up creation Dirty Gerts—a show about growing pains. Made entirely out of repurposed paper products! This show is 50 minutes long and is recommended for ages 5+. 

CANCELLED: April 18: Mr. Cuddles is Missing created by Faye Dupras, with music by Max Weigert 

Have you seen Mr. Cuddles? Join the friends at Cozy Corner as they search hither and thither for Rory’s missing lovie and best friend, Mr. Cuddles. In this family-friendly show audiences are invited into an interactive magical world full of eclectic neighborhood friends, delightful puppet pals, and live movement-based music. This show is 45 minutes long and is recommended for ages 3+.

CANCELLED: May 2: Kitty’s Corner and Other Stories by Dirk Joseph and String Theory Theater

Kitty’s Corner and Other Stories is a puppet show featuring several short vignettes which are sure to delight the entire family. Audiences will be treated to a variety of puppetry formats including marionettes, hand and rod puppets, shadow puppetry, and crankies performed by Dirk and Azaria of Baltimore’s String Theory Theater. This show is 40 minutes long and is recommended for ages 3+.

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 an event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860-486-8580 or