Author: Wicks, Emily

“The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit,” April 23-October 9, 2016

The Bureau of Small Requests includes multiple examples of the masterful small-scale puppets and objects from Laura Heit’s varied repertoire of performances, films, and installations. A West-Coast-based artist whose work has crossed many disciplines, Heit has deep roots in puppetry and animation and all things miniature. After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and London’s Royal College of Art, Heit co-directed the Experimental Animation Program at the California Institute of Arts before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. The Bureau of Small Requests features artworks and objects from puppet productions and films Heit has created over the past 15 years, involving toy-theater stages and shrines, matchbox-sized puppet shows, and the unheralded work of women paleontologists of the 19th century. As part of the exhibition, visitors will experience Two Ways Down, a multi-media installation covering the walls of the largest Ballard Institute gallery with mechanized moving shadows and figments of digital animation. The Bureau of Small Requests will be on display through October 9, 2016.

 

“The Superhero Within” by Anatar Marmol-Gagne, 5/13-5/15

The University of Connecticut’s Puppet Arts Program and Department of Dramatic Arts present The Superhero Within, an entertaining and informative hand puppet production created by Puppet Arts MFA candidate Anatar Marmol-Gagné. The Superhero Within will be presented at The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry located at 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, CT according to the following schedule:

Friday, May 13, 2016, 7:00pm
Saturday, May 14, 1:00pm & 3:00pm
Sunday, May 15, 3:00pm: Show; 3:30pm: Talkback

The Superhero Within presents a final test at Superhero Academy, which is threatened by evil. The young superheroes-in-training contend with the dangerous intrusion and discover that the strength they need is not physical; they carry it from within.

This show is a hand puppet production focused upon active shooter safety awareness training designed for children from Pre-K to 6th grade. The Superhero Within carefully draws from the core protocol established by FEMA, and is presented to young school children in a non-threatening puppet play. It is the story of three characters, who reveal to one another, through playful interaction, their own discovery of superpowers. The superpowers they demonstrate are abilities that we all possess—our own senses. This production focuses on how to be aware of surroundings by using the senses of sight, hearing, smell, and intuition. The Superhero Within is a bilingual production, which can be performed in English or Spanish.

The Superhero Within is a puppet production for all ages. Admission is free. Seating is limited.

“Beauty and the Beast” by Stevens Puppets, 5/22 at 2 p.m.

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present Beauty and the Beast by the acclaimed Stevens Puppets of Indiana on Sunday, May 22 at 2:00 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs Center.

Beauty and the Beast is a touching and humorous marionette play full of chuckles and drama. Artistic staging and clever effects accented with beautiful harp music bring this ever-popular classic triumphantly to life. Zan Raynor created Beauty and the Beast in 1999. After taking four years to make, it is the first new show to tour under the Stevens’ name since Aladdin in 1980. All the marionettes are fully carved of wood, hand painted, and dressed in hand-made costumes.

Ticket Prices: Adults: $12; Students: $8; Kids: $6

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by calling 860.486.8580, or online at http://bimp.ticketleap.com/beauty-and-the-beast/. A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the day of performance. There will be a limited number of seats. For more information about this show, call 860.486.8580.

Ballard Institute Galleries Closed for Installation, 4/14-4/22

From April 14 to April 22, 2016, Ballard Institute staff will be deinstalling our current exhibition From Thought to Image: 30 Years of Sandglass Theater and installing our new exhibition The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit. While the main galleries at the Ballard Institute will be closed during this process, the museum will remain open during normal business hours, and our exhibit titled The World of Puppetry: From the Collections of the Ballard Institute will be on display in the lobby.

We  invite you to join us for the grand opening of The Bureau of Small Requests on Saturday, April 23 at 4:30 p.m. at the Ballard Institute. The opening events will include free performances by Laura Heit at 6:30 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater.

“The Wizard of Oz” by Stevens Puppets, 4/30 at 1 & 3 p.m.

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present The Wizard of Oz by the ever-popular Stevens Puppets of Indiana on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at 1 & 3 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs Center.

Lions and tigers and puppets, oh my! In this classic heart-warming tale, beautifully adapted for marionettes by Martin Stevens and Dan Raynor, children of all ages will watch with bated breath as a Kansas cyclone whisks Dorothy off to Oz, where she befriends the Scarecrow, who wants brains; the Tin Woodman, who wants a heart; and the Cowardly Lion, who wants courage. Together they set off on a journey to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz while evading the delightfully silly Wicked Witch of the West. World leaders in puppetry arts for over 80 years, the Stevens Puppets bring this tale to life with artfully hand-carved wooden marionettes and a musical score you are sure to be humming all the way home. Martin Stevens created this version of The Wizard of Oz in 1966. It closely follows both the book and movie versions. In the spring of 2012, The Wizard of Oz went through an extensive renovation, with all-new scenery, newly painted and costumed marionettes, a new digital soundtrack, and all new props. Don’t miss The Wizard of Oz!

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by calling 860.486.8580, or online at http://bimp.ticketleap.com/the-wizard-of-oz/. A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the day of performances. There will be a limited number of seats. For more information about this show, call 860.486.8580.

Grand Opening of “The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit” on 4/23 at 4:30!

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present the grand opening of The Bureau of Small Requests: Puppetry and Animation of Laura Heit on Saturday, April 23, 2016, with refreshments served at 4:30 p.m. and a tour by puppeteer, visual artist, and filmmaker Laura Heit at 5:00 p.m. All events will take place at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Storrs, Connecticut. At 6:30 p.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, Heit will perform one of her critically acclaimed puppet productions and screen a selection of her short films.

The Bureau of Small Requests includes multiple examples of the masterful small-scale puppets and objects from Laura Heit’s varied repertoire of performances, films, and installations. A West-Coast-based artist whose work has crossed many disciplines, Heit has deep roots in puppetry and animation and all things miniature. After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and London’s Royal College of Art, Heit co-directed the Experimental Animation Program at the California Institute of Arts before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she teaches at the Pacific Northwest College of Art. The Bureau of Small Requests features artworks and objects from puppet productions and films Heit has created over the past 15 years, involving toy-theater stages and shrines, matchbox-sized puppet shows, and the unheralded work of women paleontologists of the 19th century. As part of the exhibition, visitors will experience Two Ways Down, a multi-media installation covering the walls of the largest Ballard Institute gallery with mechanized moving shadows and figments of digital animation. The Bureau of Small Requests will be on display through October 9, 2016.

For her 6:30 p.m. grand opening performance in the Ballard Institute Theater, Heit will perform her miniature toy theater spectacle The Matchbox Shows, and screen two of her animated films: The Deep Dark (2011) and The Amazing, Mysterious, and True Story of Mary Anning and Her Monsters (2003). This performance is geared for mature audiences. Admission is free, and seating is limited.

As part of our Spring Puppet Forum Series, on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m., Laura Heit will discuss her richly varied work in stop-motion film, live-action puppetry, drawing, and computer animation. This is a free event and will also be live-streamed on our UStream channel: http://ustre.am/15REP.

 

Artist Spotlight: Gavin Cummins creates “Ok, Love You, Bye”

Meet Gavin Cummins, a Puppet Arts MFA candidate and a graduate assistant at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry. Gavin has been hard at work this semester creating his MFA project titled, “Ok, Love You, Bye.” This piece uses memory metaphor and shadow puppetry to explore the confusing inner life of one’s personal grief. “I feel grief is something that is experienced by everyone yet also very isolating,” says Gavin. He hopes to create something that people can relate to in such a chaotic state. While there is no sanctioned way to grieve, Gavin explores the possibilities and hopes to create a connection.

This piece is a devised piece, meaning it was mostly created in the rehearsal room. Gavin brought a basic outline of what he wanted and some mock puppets to rehearsal and then played around to see what worked and what didn’t. The piece evolved based on his discoveries. He builds what he needs during the day and rehearses at night.

Upon graduating in the spring, Gavin plans to move back to Seattle to make puppets and puppet shows with which he can tour the country, hopefully coming through New England again. See “Ok, Love You, Bye” in the MFA Puppet Arts Festival this March!

Artist Spotlight: Kalob Martinez creates “El Beto”

“My time at UConn has been great, and has been the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life.”

Meet Kalob Martinez, an MFA Puppet Arts candidate set to graduate in May 2016. For his MFA project, Kalob has created “El Beto,” a one-man hand puppet version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth molded into the world of the Mexican drug cartel. Kalob is interested in placing classical texts in a modern setting, which not only makes it more relatable to modern audiences, but also evokes questions about our current events.

Kalob has masterfully woven the modern circumstance of the drug cartel into a Shakespearean classic. His creative process included reading and re-reading the play in order to meditate over the characters. From there, the show took shape with thematic ideas and technical details. With the help of Paul Spirito, Lucas Gorham, the 3D printing club, daily meditation, and pre-rehearsal yoga sessions, Kalob created his dynamic solo puppet show. Kalob says starting the processes is the hardest part. “Once I get going, I’m good. But it’s that initial push that’s the hardest for me.”

Kalob plans to take this show on the road and perform it in his professional life. See “El Beto” performed this March in the MFA Puppet Festival.