Month: February 2022

“Puppetry and Production Design” Puppet Forum with Carl Sprague on 2/24 at 7 PM ET

For its first installment of the 2022 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Puppetry and Production Design” with stage designer Carl Sprague on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Zoom (registration required: and Facebook Live ( and will be available afterwards on Facebook and the Ballard Institute YouTube Channel (  

In a conversation with Ballard Institute Director John Bell, puppeteer and production designer Carl Sprague will discuss the nature of images, objects, and puppet performance, in such films as The French Dispatch, Twelve Years a Slave, Amistad, and La La Land, as well as his own work as a puppeteer of Czech marionettes. This forum is co-sponsored by UConn’s Krenicki Arts and Engineering Institute.

Carl Sprague got his start in performance and scene design at age eight – playing with the Czech family marionette theater originally created by his great-grandfather. He went on to work in theater and film, taking a degree in Film (and Philosophy!) at Harvard, which began him on a long career in production design. Notable theater companies he has designed for include Berkshire Theatre, Oldcastle Theatre Company, Mixed Company, Music-Theatre Group, Hubbard Hall Opera, Shakespeare & Company, Moscow Ballet, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet.

Carl’s professional film career has taken him from a long association with special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull to big and small Hollywood features, including Martin Scorsese’s Age of Innocence, The Social Network, Twelve Years a Slave, and Tesla. He is fortunate to have worked with Wes Anderson on six films, beginning with The Royal Tenenbaums, and including Grand Budapest Hotel and The French Dispatch. He has designed three features with Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky. Documentary master Errol Morris has also called on him, and Woody Allen tapped him to design his series for Amazon. Carl’s sets for photographer Gregory Crewdson have been featured in the New York Times.

Carl continues to play with puppets.

For more information and to learn about other Ballard Institute online programming, visit or email

The Ballard Institute is reopen!

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut celebrates the return of UConn students to the university’s Main Campus in Storrs with the re-opening of its ground-breaking exhibition Hecho en Puerto Rico: Four Generations of Puerto Rican Puppetry, curated by Dr. Manuel Morán and Deborah Hunt. The museum is open Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition is co-sponsored by the UConn Puerto Rican and Latin American Cultural Center (PRLACC) and El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.

 Ballard Institute director Dr. John Bell said “we are very excited to once more share the amazing richness, color, and variety of Puerto Rican culture in this first-ever exhibition of historical and contemporary puppetry from the island.” Hecho en Puerto Rico invites the spectator to discover over fifty years of puppet productivity, by four distinct generations of builders and performers in and from Puerto Rico, from the 1960s to current times. Despite economic and political turmoil as well as natural disasters, the young and thriving Puerto Rican puppet movement continues to evolve and grow.

Hecho en Puerto Rico highlights the work of such puppeteers and companies as Agua, Sol y Sereno; Brenda Plumey; Daniel y sus Muñecos; Deborah Hunt; Edward Cardenales; El Mundo de los Muñecos; José López; Luis Villafañe; Mario Donate; Mary Anne Hopgood; Papel Machete; Poncili Creación; Pura Belpré; Santin y sus Muñecos; Teatro SEA and Manuel Morán; Tere Marichal; Vueltabajo Teatro; and Y No Había Luz.

Co-curator Deborah Hunt has lived and worked as a mask maker, mask and object theatre performance artist since 1973, creating and presenting original theatre works, performances and festivals or encounters in the South Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. Born and raised in Aotearoa New Zealand, she has been based in Borikén/Puerto Rico since 1990, where she founded Maskhunt Motions, a nomadic laboratory for experimental object theatre work. Hunt teaches mask work and puppetry in communities worldwide, in a practice exploring puppetry in public and private spaces. Her work ranges in scale from the miniature to creating giant puppets that transform into peepshows. She has created encounters and festivals to promote puppetry for adult audiences and published mask and puppetry manuals in Spanish and English. She is interested in performing in unconventional places and to very intimate audiences. Hunt characterizes her work as “theatre of the useless.”

Co-curator Dr. Manuel Morán ( was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and studied at the University of Puerto Rico and New York University, where he earned a doctorate degree in Educational Theater. He is the Founder, CEO and Artistic Director of Society of the Educational Arts, Inc. ( A writer, director, and producer for theater, television, and film, he is also an actor, singer and composer, and created the International Puppet Fringe Festival of NYC in 2018. He is a former Vice-President (2012-2021) of UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette). His three-part documentary film Títeres en el Caribe Hispano/Puppetry in the Caribbean premiered at the Havana Film Festival in Cuba in 2016 and has been screened in festivals around the world. Dr. Morán’s theater and literary work has been published in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the United States, including his books Migrant Theater for Children: A Caribbean in New York (2016), and Mantequilla/Butter; Adventures and Tribulations of a Puerto Rican Boy (2017). He is currently starring in the web series El Avión The Airplane (, and is the proud dad of Manuel Gabriel, with whom he lives in New York City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Due to restrictions and safety precautions related to COVID-19, the museum will be open Wednesday through Saturday only, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., by reservation. One group of up to six visitors from a family or quarantine unit will be allowed in the museum at a time during each time slot. Face masks are required at all times when visiting the museum for ages two and up. Hand sanitizer is available throughout the museum and staff clean high-touch surfaces once per hour. To learn more about the Ballard Institute’s COVID-19 protocols and to reserve a time slot, visit: Visitors may also reserve a time slot by calling 860.486.8580.