UConn Avery Point Exhibit: “Sailors, Sea Creatures and Strings: Maritime Puppets from the Collections of the Ballard Institute,” 10/11-12/17

UConn Avery Point, in collaboration with UConn School of Fine Arts and the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut presents Sailors, Sea Creatures and Strings: Maritime Puppets from the Collections of the Ballard Institute in the exhibition space located on the second floor of Branford House at UConn Avery Point. UConn Avery Point is located at 1084 Shennecossett Road, Groton, Connecticut 06340. The exhibition will be on display through Dec. 17, 2017.

In a special guest exhibition at UConn’s Avery Point campus, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry presents Sailors, Sea Creatures, and Strings, an installation of puppets performed in popular maritime tales. The exhibit features marionettes, rod puppets, and set pieces from late UConn Puppet Arts Program founder Frank Ballard’s productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore (1989) and Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung (1980). The exhibit also highlights marionettes created by famed Waterford, Connecticut puppeteers Rufus and Margo Rose from their celebrated 1937 production of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The exhibition’s curator, Matt Sorensen, a UConn Puppet Arts graduate student and the Ballard Institute’s graduate assistant, will lead a tour of the exhibition at the opening reception.

Exhibition hours will be Thursday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. from Oct. 12 through Dec. 17, 2017. Admission to the exhibition is free.


“Mascots! Mask Performance in the 21st Century,” 10/19/17-2/11/18

The world of mascots is one of the most vibrant and active areas of contemporary mask performance in the United States. With their combination of costumes and over-life-size head masks, mascots are stunning symbolic representations of professional, college, and high-school sports teams, companies, and other organizations. Through their performances at sporting events, parades, theme parks, street corners, and other venues, mascots represent powerful ideas of community, team spirit, and organizational identity. The Ballard Institute’s Mascots! exhibition will examine the creators, history and social context of mascots in North America, and bring together exciting examples of contemporary and historic mascots ranging from the collegiate level with UConn’s Jonathan the Husky, Big Jay and Baby Jay from the University of Kansas, and Lil’ Red from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, to famous major-league mascots including the Boston’s favorite mascot; Winger, the former mascot of the Washington Capitols; Clutch from the Houston Rockets, the Famous San Diego Chicken, and more.

“Obstreperous Puppets: The Puppeteers Cooperative,” 6/22/17-10/8/17

Co-founded by Sara Peattie and George Konnoff in 1976, the Boston-based Puppeteers Cooperative is one of the most prolific, yet un-acclaimed, puppet companies in New England. Peattie, Konnoff, and their colleagues have designed and built puppets with community groups for pageants and celebrations across the United States, including Boston’s famed First Night, the Downtown Mansfield Festival in Storrs. Many of these creations are also available to the general public through the Puppeteers Cooperative’s Puppet Free Library, located in the basement of Boston’s Emmanuel Church. “Puppeteers secretly suspect that their puppets have lives of their own,” Peattie comments, “and these puppets really do. Because they are in the Puppet Free Library, they wander off, go places I don’t know about or that I can’t get entrance to, and come back with human thanks, or even on occasion reappear with no explanation, somewhat battered and smelling oddly, to resume their places in my life, but to be greeted on the street as old friends by people who are strangers to me.”

In conjunction with this exhibition and the 14th annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and Mansfield Downtown Partnership will host a free two-day puppet-building workshop with Sara Peattie on September 9 and 10 at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Workshop participants will help to design and build life-size and over-life-size puppets for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade in downtown Storrs. Workshop participants will be invited to parade with their puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, September 17 at noon. No experience is necessary to take part in these workshops. More information will be released at the end of summer.

As part of our Fall Puppet Forum Series, on Thursday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. Obstreperous Puppets curator Sara Peattie will discuss her work building puppets with the Puppeteers Cooperative and organizing the Puppet Free Library. Admission is free, and donations are greatly appreciated.

“Banners and Cranks: Paintings and Scrolls in Performance”, February 23-June 11, 2017

Cantastorias and crankies are forms of sung picture story-telling that trace their origins to 6th-century India. These paintings mounted on sticks, flipped over and revealed, or unfurled on scrolls and moved by means of a crank are performing object precursors to the popular puppet traditions of many countries. Despite the prominence of new technologies in popular culture, an innovative dynamic engagement with the simple mechanical cranky and cantastoria has blossomed among young puppet theater companies, activist educators, folk musicians, visual artists, playwrights, and students who infuse this old form with diverse new content and bold variations in technique.

“Frank Ballard’s Marionette Modernism: ‘Peer Gynt’ and ‘The Love for Three Oranges'”, October 22, 2016-February 12, 2017

Frank Ballard’s Marionette Modernism: Peer Gynt and The Love for Three Oranges will be a striking exposition of Frank Ballard’s life-long passion for the artistic possibilities of string marionettes as it emerged in his spectacular versions of two modernist classics: Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, with music by Edvard Grieg; and Gozzi’s The Love for Three Oranges, set to music by Sergei Prokofiev.