For its final online installment of the 2021 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Access to Puppetry for Native, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color,” with Chamindika Wanduragala on Thursday, May 13 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/) and will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute YouTube Channel (youtube.com/channel/UC3VSthEDnYS6ZjOwzT1DnTg).
Puppetry in the United States has often not been able to reach out to wider communities of performers and audiences, especially in terms of training new puppeteers. But Chamindika Wanduragala, a Sri Lankan American puppeteer, filmmaker, and DJ, has created and directs Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to support Native, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color puppeteers to develop the creative and technical means to tell new stories through puppetry. Join us for this fascinating discussion with Wanduragala about Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, how it creates access to puppetry, and its processes for doing so. This forum is co-sponsored by the UConn Asian American Cultural Center.
Chamindika Wanduragala is a Sri Lankan American puppet artist/stop motion filmmaker with a visual arts background, and a DJ (DJ Chamun). She loves transporting people to another world through puppetry and music. Chamindika is the founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Monkeybear’s Harmolodic Workshop, which supports Native, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in developing creative and technical skills in contemporary puppetry. Chamindika’s work has been supported by the Henson Foundation, Jerome Foundation, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and Minnesota State Arts Board; and her last puppet theater production was presented by Pillsbury House Theatre. You can see her work (and hear some playlists!) at chamindika.com.
For more information and to learn about other online programming, visit bimp.uconn.edu or email email@example.com.
As part of its 2021 Spring virtual programming, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to present The Perils of Mr. Punch by Modern Times Theater on April 24, 2021 at 4 p.m. ET via Zoom.
The Perils of Mr. Punch features the one and only Punch and Judy, presented live, and updated for the 21st century. Allow Mr. Punch to deftly remove your bad mood, whilst he exhausts your child! Gawk as Judy struggles to balance a checkbook before being eaten by the carnivore du jour! Feast your eyes upon the diaper change that should not be! It’s a melodrama of epically small proportions but so funny that audiences forget they aren’t in the room. The hand puppets are created from up-cycled designer trash and performed in an eccentric itinerant puppet stage. The show is hosted per tradition by a “bottler”, the uku-lady Rose Friedman. Justin Lander, showman of the absurd, portrays all the characters. The program is rounded out with live music played on a variety of instruments, from the cornet to the bicycle pump. It’s a low-tech old-time spectacle, entertaining to people of all ages: from one to one hundred. This performance lasts approximately 45 minutes and will include time for questions and answers with Modern Times Theater after the show.
Modern Times Theater has been adapting and updating Punch and Judy puppet shows for over a decade. Co-founders Rose Friedman and Justin Lander are a husband and wife duo, producers for Vermont Vaudeville and alumni of the Bread and Puppet Theater. Parents themselves, they strive to present quality entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.
Ticket price: $10/household. Tickets can be purchased online at https://bimp.ticketleap.com/punch-virtual/. A surcharge will be added to online purchases. Attendees should purchase one ticket per household. While we ask for a minimum payment of $10/household, we greatly appreciate any additional support! A Zoom link will be emailed to households one hour before the performance.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For its fourth online installment of the 2021 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Puppetry, Game Design, and Digital Performance” with Eddie Kim of EK Theater and UConn Digital and Media Design faculty Samantha Olschan and Kenneth Thompson, on Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/) and will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute YouTube Channel (youtube.com/channel/UC3VSthEDnYS6ZjOwzT1DnTg).
Innovations in digital culture, including motion capture technology and the use of avatars in video games have sometimes been labeled “digital puppetry”; but what exactly are the overlaps and differences between puppetry’s analog objects in motion and their cyber cousins in the digital world? This exciting puppet forum will examine these important connections by considering Eddie Kim’s retellings of classical stories through live acts of video game puppetry; Samantha Olschan’s storytelling projects combining animation, design, and experiential narrative; and video game designer Kenneth Thompson’s work pushing the boundaries of gameplay experience. This forum is co-sponsored by UConn’s Digital Media and Design Department.
Eddie Kim is a multimedia artist and the artistic director of EK Theater (ektheater.com), a video game puppetry troupe that he founded in 2007. The company’s mission is to retell classical stories through live acts of video game puppetry. His plays have been performed at venues such as the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA; the NRG Center in Houston, TX; and the Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The New York Times has called his work “an impressive feat of engineering, coordination and storytelling.”
Samantha Olschan is a transmedia artist with a M.F.A. in Film, Video, and New Media: Animation from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a B.F.A in Fine Arts: Electronic & Time-Based Media from Carnegie Mellon University. Having worked across broadcast design, animation, compositing and time-based visualization for television, films, documentaries and media agencies, she continues to research the future of storytelling through animation, design and experiential narrative.
Kenneth Thompson worked in the game industry for eight years as a Game Designer and Lead Designer before coming to the University of Connecticut. His responsibilities included directing game projects from start to finish, programming unique scenarios using game development tools, and working with publishers such as SEGA, Electronic Arts, and Activision. He has worked with Blockbuster franchises such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, Madagascar, Shrek, and over a dozen others. His work in the video game industry has received Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Award for best video game, Indie Game of the Year, and Innovation Awards from industry publications. He works with students on creating engaging gameplay experiences and pushing the boundaries of play.
For more information and to learn about other online programming, email email@example.com.
The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the University of Connecticut Puppets Arts Program, with the support of a UConn School of Fine Arts Anti-Racism Research Grant, are hosting a free international online symposium on systemic racism and the representation of foreigners and minorities in puppetry and allied art forms on April 9-10. The symposium is free but advanced registration is required. The “Representing Alterity through Puppetry and Performing Objects” Symposium is organized by UConn School of Fine Arts professors Matthew Cohen, Jungmin Song, and Ballard Institute director John Bell. The symposium is free but advanced registration is required.
Scholars and artists from Brazil, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Slovakia, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the US will be engaged for two days investigating how puppetry and allied forms in societies globally reflect and perpetuate systemic and pervasive racism and bias, imagine diversity, allow minorities to achieve visibility, play with and resist ethnic and racial identifications and categories, and problematize and challenge histories of representation of the Other. Puppets, masks, and other performing objects are used around the world to represent and stage the Other—various ethnicities and races considered different from dominant groups. Such dramatizations of alterity routinely involve exotification, exaggeration, and caricature. Puppetry and related forms also can transcend social categories and resist oppressive systems such as colonialism, often through humor.
Highlights include a keynote address by Professor Marvin Carlson, Sidney E. Cohn Professor of Theatre, Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, on the representation of foreigners in Arabic shadow puppet plays; and papers on the political use of effigies of Barack Obama, depictions of Muslims in traditional Sicilian puppetry, African-American ventriloquist John W. Cooper, contemporary artist and puppeteer Kara Walker, foreigners in Chinese puppet plays, foreign mercenaries in Javanese shadow puppetry, exhibiting blackface puppets in German museums, Romanis and Jews in Slovakian puppetry, the representation of foreign enemies in European puppetry of World War I, contemporary European puppetry dealing with Palestinian refugees, and Orientalism in the use of so-called bunraku puppetry in opera.
To register for sessions of this free symposium, and to view the entire symposium schedule, please visit bimp.uconn.edu/alterity-symposium. For more information about the event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860-486-8580 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For its third installment of the 2021 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Working on Race and Ethnicity in Puppetry” with curator Dr. Jungmin Song and Ballard Institute Director John Bell on April 8 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/) and will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute YouTube Channel (youtube.com/channel/UC3VSthEDnYS6ZjOwzT1DnTg).
This forum is a work-in-progress discussion about the challenging process of creating a puppet exhibition on race and ethnicity, focused on objects from Ballard Institute collections. Join curator Jungmin Song and Ballard Institute director John Bell in a discussion about the challenges they face navigating language, biases, objects, provenance, and databases as they try to re-think Ballard Institute collections for their next exhibition.
Dr. Jungmin Song is adjunct faculty at the University of Connecticut. Her writings have appeared in Performance Research, Artpress 2, Asian Theatre Journal, and Contemporary Theatre Review. In 2017 she edited a special issue of the British journal Puppet Notebook on Shakespeare and puppets, and was a researcher in residence at the Institut International de la Marionnette (IIM) in Charleville-Mézières, France to lay the ground for a book on Shakespeare and puppetry. She curated the Shakespeare and Puppetry exhibition at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in 2020. As a puppet maker she has participated in numerous projects, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Little Angel Theatre’s co-production of Venus and Adonis (2004).
For more information and to learn about other online programming, visit bimp.uconn.edu or email email@example.com.