“The World of Puppetry” at Vernon Community Arts Center, September 9 – October 5

Tolu Bommalata shadow figures from India

An amazing array of puppets from the Ballard Institute collections and UConn’s Puppet Arts Program will be on display September 9 through October 5 in “The World of Puppetry”, an exhibition at the Vernon Community Art Center in Vernon, Connecticut!  The Opening Reception for the event is Sunday, September 8 from 1 to 4 p.m.

The exhibition includes the following amazing workshops, performances, and talks:

– Three puppet shows created and performed by graduate students of the Puppet Arts Program on Saturday, September 14th at 2:00; Sunday, September 22nd at 2:00; and Saturday, October 5th at 7:30.

– Shadow Theatre Workshop on Saturday, September 21st

– Toy Theatre Workshop on Saturday, September 28th. These intergenerational workshops, led by UConn Puppetry faculty and students, are intended for children, parents and/or grandparents.

Rod puppets by Frank Ballard

– “Behind the Puppet Stage”: a lecture by Puppet Arts Program Director Bart Roccoberton on Sunday, September 29th.

Gallery hours for the exhibition, from September 12th through October 5th, are Thursday through Sunday 1 – 5.

For details about the performances and to register for the workshops, please visit the Vernon Community Arts Center website or contact the VCAC by phone at: (860) 871-VCAC (8222).

This project is made possible by a grant from The Greater Hartford Arts Council and funding from The Vernon Arts Commission.

“Strings, Rods, Robots: Recent Acquisitions” Showcases Global Puppet Traditions and Innovations

Kathpulti Marionettes from Rajasthan, India

Puppets from around the world representing several centuries worth of global traditions, as well as as cutting-edge hybrids of puppetry and digital technology, make up the rich array of performing objects on display in the Ballard Institute’s new exhibition Strings, Rods, Robots: Recent Acquisitions.


Jim Henson’s “Wizard of Id”

The exhibition, curated by UConn Art and Art History graduate student Lindsay Simon, showcases an exhilarating diversity of puppets from around the world recently donated to the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.  Strings, Rods, Robots exhibition brings together ancient puppet traditions and Modernist innovations, with objects ranging from Vietnamese water puppets, Persian ritual marionettes, and Javanese shadow puppets to 1930s Alabama marionettes, department store automata by Ellen Rixford, a lifesize robotic marionette by French media artist Zaven Paré, traditional Egyptian shadow puppets, a Dada-inspired marionette by Australian artist Sally Smart, a spectacular Danish toy theater, and a stunning array of global puppet forms collected by John E. and Marilyn O’Connor Miller.

Electronic Marionette by Zaven Paré

These visually striking–and sometimes startling–juxtapositions reveal the contemporary world of puppetry as a fecund and florid network of hybrid culture, where centuries-old traditions of epic, religious, comic, and political puppetry performed with wooden, cloth, and leather figures rub shoulders with mechanical or electronic puppets made of plastic, metal, and glass.  And yet, despite these fascinating contradictions, the old and new puppets continue to reveal to us what is happening in our societies, with insight, humor, and wisdom.

“Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers” Now on Exhibit

Cinderella and the Prince, from Dick Myers’s “Cinderella”

An eye-opening exhibition of a ground-breaking 20th-century American puppeteer, Dick Myers, is now on display at the Ballard Museum.  “Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers” is a fascinating in-depth look at a puppeteer’s puppeteer—an innovative and ingenious designer, builder, and performer whose work, while highly respected in the international world of puppetry, never brought him fame.

Curated by Puppet Arts Program graduate student Seth Shaffer, “Exceptional and Uncommon” brings together scores of rod puppets, marionettes, and hand puppets designed and performed by Myers; innovative sound, lighting, and stage equipment he designed; photographs of Myers at work and in performance; and a documentary video filmed and edited by Shaffer in which Myers’s friends and colleagues describe his work and his life.

Dick Myers was one of the leading American puppeteers of the later 20th century.  Although his work is now relatively unknown, in its time his puppet shows were highly respected by puppeteers around the world for the compelling and original design of the puppets, Myers’ skillful manipulation, and the challenging tasks he set out and achieved with his creations.

In the early years of his career Dick Myers worked with many well-known puppeteers including Connecticut’s Rufus and Margo Rose, and Martin and Olga Stevens of Indiana.  He was, however, best known for his unique solo rod puppet shows: Dick Whittington’s Cat (1966), Cinderella (1967), Beauty and the Beast (1969), Simple Simon (1976), and Divertissement (1978).

“Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers” is a revelatory and thought-provoking window into puppetry of the late 20th century, when American puppeteers combined technological innovations with home-grown humor and popular culture in order to re-define puppetry as an aspect of contemporary American culture.

UConn Puppetry Will Be Featured in “World of Puppetry” Events at Windsor Art Center, March 16-April 27

Giant puppet by Anne Cubberly.

Scores of puppets created by Frank Ballard, UConn Puppet Arts students and teachers, and selections from the Ballard Institute puppet collections will be featured in The World of Puppetry, an exhibition of puppets and accompanying talks, performances, and workshops at the Windsor Art Center in Windsor Connecticut.  Curated by famed Hartford kinetic sculptor and puppeteer Anne Cubberly, The World of Puppetry will feature talks by Puppet Arts Director Bart Roccoberton (April 7), Ballard Institute Director John Bell (April 14), a Puppet Pot Pie Puppet Slam organized by Puppet Arts Technical Supervisor Paul Spirito (April 6), and performances by UConn Puppet Arts alumnus Jim Napolitano (April 18), as well as workshops and presentations by Anne Cubberly herself.

The opening reception for The World of Puppetry is Saturday, March 16.  See below for a full schedule of events.


The World of Puppetry

Opening Reception March 16, 5-7 PM

Members’ Preview 4:30 PM

The exhibition will feature puppets by UConn Puppet Arts founder Frank Ballard.

Please join us at the Windsor Art Center for this exhibition of puppets, talks, performances and workshops to learn more about the World of Puppetry. Curated by kinetic sculptor, Anne Cubberly. A special thank you to the Puppets Arts Program and Bart Roccoberton, and the Ballard Museum and John Bell, University of Connecticut, Storrs, for the loan of puppets for this exhibition.

Thursday, March, 21 • 6:30-7:30 PM. How I Became The Puppet Lady. Anne Cubberly will talk about her adventures in becoming a kinetic sculptor and community artist. FREE.

Saturday, April 6 • 2-4 PM. Puppet Pot Pie. A program bringing together wonderful puppeteers from our region. Fun for the whole family. Suggested donation: $10/adults; $5/kids 6-12; kids 5 and under FREE.

Sunday, April 7 • 1-2 PM. Behind The Puppet Stage. Talk by Bart Roccoberton, Professor of Puppet Arts, University of Connecticut. FREE.

Saturday, April 13 • 2-4. PM Puppets Alive workshop with Anne Cubberly. Children of all ages make their own puppets. Suggested donation: $5/door.

The exhibition will also include Tolu Bommalatta shadow figures from Andhra Pradesh, from the Jano Fairservis Collection.

Sunday, April 14 • 2 PM. Puppets, Modernism, and Global Culture. Talk by John Bell, Director, Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry. FREE.

Thursday April 18 • 6:30-7:30 PM. Puppet theater performance with Jim Napolitano of Nappy’s Puppets to entertain, inspire and educate the audience on the range and scope of puppetry as an art form. Suggested donation: $10/door

Saturday, April 20 • 2-4 PM. Shadow Puppet workshop with Anne Cubberly, Puppeteer. Children and adults. Suggested donation: $5/door.

All events will take place at the Windsor Arts Center, located at the corner of Central Street and Mechanic Street in downtown Windsor, Connecticut, just north of Hartford.  The Arts Center is open Thursday 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.   See the Windsor Arts Center website for directions.

Ballard Museum Gala Opening Saturday, March 30

Join us Saturday, March 30 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Ballard Museum on UConn’s Depot Campus for our gala opening and celebration of two new exhibitions of extraordinary puppetry:  Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers, and Strings, Rods, and Robots: Recent Acquisitions.

Rod puppets by Dick Myers. Photo by Sara Nolen.

Exceptional and Uncommon: The Puppetry of Dick Myers is the first-ever exhibition devoted to the unique puppetry of Dick Myers, an unusually skilled—yet now relatively unknown—artist, engineer, and performer whose one-man shows excited audiences around the world in the mid-20th century.  This fascinating exhibition, curated by Puppet Arts MFA student Seth Shaffer, features Myers’ one-of-a-kind designs for Dick Whittington’s Cat (1966), Cinderella (1968), Beauty and the Beast (1972), Simple Simon (1976) and Divertissement (1978), as well as backstage views of Myers’ unique designs.



Marionette by Sally Smart. Photo courtesy of Contemporary Art Galleries.

Strings, Rods, and Robots: Recent Acquisitions showcases the exhilarating diversity of puppets from around the world recently acquired by the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.  Curated by UConn Art and Art History graduate student Lindsay Simon, the exhibition juxtaposes ancient puppet traditions with Modernist interpretations, with objects ranging from Vietnamese water puppets, Persian ritual rod puppets, and Javanese shadow puppets to 1930s Alabama marionettes, department store automata by Ellen Rixford, a lifesize robotic marionette by French media artist Zaven Paré, traditional Egyptian shadow puppets, a Dada-inspired marionette by Australian artist Sally Smart, and a stunning array of global puppet forms collected by John E. and Marilyn O’Connor Miller.



The Gala Opening Day events will begin with a ribbon cutting ceremony with UConn School of Fine Arts Dean Bríd Grant, followed by guided tours of the exhibitions led by the curators.  At 3 p.m., Seth Shaffer and revered puppeteer Allelu Kurten, a longtime friend of Dick Myers, will discuss Myers’s work in a special UConn Puppet Forum in the Ballard Institute Conference Room.

Refreshments will be served throughout the event.

Following the Gala Opening, the Ballard Museum will be open to the public Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m.  Admission to the museum is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.

For more information about the Gala Opening, email bimp@uconn.edu.  Make sure to check our facebook page for regular updates on Ballard Institute activities.

For directions and map to the Ballard Institute see this link.