Month: February 2023

“Puppetry, Ritual, and Performance in Turkey” Forum on 2/22

Join Ballard Institute Director John Bell in a discussion of his puppet performance, workshop, and exhibition projects at last fall’s Istanbul Biennial, in the first Ballard Institute 2023 Spring Puppet Forum: “Puppetry, Ritual, and Performance in Turkey: The Istanbul Biennial and Beyond” on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

In a conversation with Puppet Arts Interim Technical Supervisor Matthew Sorensen, Dr. Bell will discuss his work on Demons of Society, an outdoor Bread and Puppet Theater pageant production, as well as his two Biennial exhibitions—Annals of Object Performance: Puppetry, Street Performance, and Activism, and Peter Schumann’s Bedsheet Paintings; and his work with theater and arts organizations in Diyarbakir, Kurdistan. Dr. Bell’s talk will touch on the history of Turkey as a center of puppet and object performance from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires to the present, and the ongoing challenges Turkish artists and performers face living and working within an authoritarian society.

Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. Forums will be broadcast via Ballard Institute Facebook Live ( For more information or if you require accommodation to attend a forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or

About the Speaker

Puppeteer and historian John Bell is Director of the Ballard Institute and Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut. A member of the Bread and Puppet Theater company from 1976 to 1986, he received his Ph.D. in theater history from Columbia University in 1993. 1993. He is the author of American Puppet Modernism: Essays on the Material World in Performance and co-editor of The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance. John is a member of the Brooklyn-based theater collective Great Small Works, and one of the creators of the Honk! Festival of Activist Street Bands.

“The Baffo Box Show” by Modern Times Theater on 2/25

As part of its 2023 Spring Puppet Performance Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to present The Baffo Box Show by the Vermont-based Modern Times Theater on Feb. 25, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

Performed in a one-of-a-kind suit-stage by Modern Times Theater member Justin Lander, this show packs classic hand puppetry, Dadaist ventriloquism, and stand-up comedy into a cardboard box and delivers it, with impeccable timing, live on stage. Inside the box are the Baffos — two slapstick chaps who keep the sun, moon and everything else running on schedule. From the moment the lid opens, audiences are captivated as the Baffos juggle and dance their way through the day’s chores, despite the undeniable evidence that their world is changing. A daring work of puppetry and object manipulation, full of beautiful images, junk music sonatas, and Modern Times Theater’s unique brand of all ages comedy. 

To learn more about the show and purchase tickets, visit:

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 the 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. For more information about these performances or if you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860-486-8580 or Masks recommended but not required. 

About the Company

Modern Times Theater has been making and touring puppet shows and variety acts, and creating public community events since 2007. They pursue a radically divergent model of art making, creating venues in unlikely locations, and revitalizing the historic, run-down, and defunct. Working in populist theater forms, they seek to reinvent and reimagine classic American entertainment. 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.