Events

UConn Puppetry’s Seth Shaffer to present workshop and performances at Benton Museum for UConn Alumni Weekend

UConn Alumni Weekend Special!

Puppetry Arts grad student (class of 2013) and Ballard Institute digital archivist Seth Shaffer will present a workshop/performance at the William Benton Museum of Art on UConn’s Main Campus on Saturday, June 2, from 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.!

 

Seth writes: “I am very excited to be a part of the Alumni Weekend!  My plan is to do both an interactive demonstration on basic puppet manipulation and a series of short vinettes.  I am planning on building some student puppets in the next two weeks that members of the audience can use to explore manipulation techniques with me.  Then with these simple “student” puppets, I will perform a short story to demonstrate how to practically use a puppet.”

Check it out, and then come visit our museum!Puppet Show with Seth Shaffer, Saturday June 2, 1:45 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. at William Benton Museum of Art.

See the UConn Puppet Arts Production of “Butterfly Dreams” May 12 and 13 before China Tour

 

Join us this Saturday and Sunday, May 12 and 13 in the Studio Theater on the UConn’s Main Campus for rare performances of Butterfly Dreams, the remounting of an extraordinary 2001 puppet production created by UConn Puppet Arts students.  The performances will feature an all-star cast of  UConn Puppet Arts alumni–Ceili Clemens, David Regan, Bart Roccoberton, Joe Therrien and Hua Hua Zhang–and current Puppet Arts students–Penny Benson and Xing Xin Liu.  These special performances will precede the presentation of Butterfly Dreams at the 21st UNIMA Congress & World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, China later in May.

Butterfly Dreams will be performed Saturday, May 12 at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 13 at 2 p.m., at the UConn Dramatic Arts Department’s Studio Theater (click here for directions).  There is no admission charge for these performances, but donations will be gratefully accepted, and used to help defray the costs of the trip to China.

Butterfly Dreams was created in 2001 by Puppet Arts students Hua Hua Zhang, David Regan and Puppet Arts director Bart Roccoberton, and uses dreams as a vehicle to explore humanity and its multiple levels of meaning and purpose.  The production is inspired by a tale from Taoist philosophy about a sage, Zhuang Zi, who dreamed that he had become a butterfly and derived immense pleasure from flying.  After awakening, he wondered whether he was a man who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly who now dreamed he was a man.  Bart Roccoberton writes of the show, “We are living in a dream of dreams.  If you don’t dream, life has no interest and no meaning.  Everybody has dreams at different levels – both waking and sleeping.  Do we dream that we dream?”

UNIMA, the French-based Union Internationale de la Marionnette, is the world’s oldest international arts organization.  It was founded in Prague in 1929 and is now chartered under UNESCO.  The performances of Butterfly Dreams at the UNIMA Congress and Festival in Chengdu will mark an unusual opportunity for UConn Puppet Arts work to appear in a prestigious international stage.

Admission is free to the performances on Saturday, May 12 at 4 & 8 pm and Sunday, May 13 at 2 pm. Donations to help defray the costs of the China trip will be gratefully accepted.  Checks can be made out to VISUAL EXPRESSIONS.

Spring Forum Series will close with “Handmade Puppet Dreams, Volume 5”, Wednesday, May 9

Still from I'll Forget you, directed by Natasha Pincus of Melbourne, Australia

Our Spring Puppet Forum Series will end on Wednesday, May 9th at 7:30, with a rare showing of Handmade Puppet Dreams, Volume 5, at the Ballard Institute on UConn’s Depot Campus.  In Heather Henson’s new collection of fourteen (count’em!) independent puppet shorts by an international array of young filmmakers and puppeteers, you will see an astounding range of  expression and a variety of fascinating and innovative stories and puppet techniques.  This will be the first showing of Handmade Puppet Dreams, Volume 5 in northern Connecticut!

Still from Rocket Monkey Directed by Gwendolyn Warnock and Kirjan Waage of New York

The film runs a little over an hour and a half, it is free and open to all.  Refreshments will be served.

The museum’s new exhibitions, Red Gate: Pauline Benton and Chinese Shadow Theater, and Frank Ballard: Roots and Branches, will also be open for your viewing pleasure before and after the film.

Directions to the Ballard Institute here.

Still from Time Machine, Directed by Vincent Bova of New York.

April 24th and 25th, New Works in Puppet Film by UConn MFA Candidates

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and The UConn Puppet Arts Program present new works in puppet films by Puppet Arts MFA Candidates Maya Ahuja, Ki Hong Kim, Travis Lope, Caitlin Shirts, and Fergus Walsh.

There are 4 showings on Tuesday April 24th and Wednesday April 25th at 7:30 pm and 10:30 pm. The event is free and open to all. **This event will be at the Nafe Katter Theater in the Dramatic Arts Building on UConn’s Main Campus. Click for directions.**

This will be the third event in our Spring Forum Series, with the final event, a showing of Handmade Puppet Dreams, Vol. 5 on Wednesday May 9th at The Ballard Institute.

Carol Sterling on New Opportunities for Puppetry in Education, at April 18 Spring Puppet Forum

Join Carol Sterling and students and teachers from UConn’s Puppet Arts Program this Wednesday, April 18 at 7:30 at the Ballard Institute for a fascinating discussion of the opportunities and challenges of puppetry in education.  Carol Sterling is a celebrated puppeteer, art educator, and longtime Director of Arts in Education for the Brooklyn Arts Council, as well as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Arts Education from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

Chinese Handpuppets from Galapagos Puppet Theatre will open Spring Puppet Forum Series this Wednesday

Continuing to explore the rich legacy of Chinese performing arts in the United States presented in Red Gate: Pauline Benton and Chinese Shadow Theater, the Ballard Institute’s Spring Puppet Forum series will open this Wednesday at 7:30 with a special performance of classic Chinese handpuppetry by Margaret Moody’s celebrated Galapagos Puppet Theater from Boston.  The Galapagos company will perform The Banana Princess, an episode from the classic Chinese epic The Journey to the West.

In the 1930s Pauline Benton’s Red Gate Players performed the same story themselves, with shadow figures, under the title Mountain of Fiery Tongues.  The story, as Galapagos Puppet Theater tells it, concerns the travelling monk Tang and his retinue of colorful and magically endowed disciples, who find their path to India blocked by a blazing fire mountain.  Only a magical fan owned by the powerful Banana Princess can put out the fire–but she doesn’t want to lend it.  The disciples use their magical powers of transformation and persuasion in a struggle to win the fan.

Margaret Moody’s expertise in Chinese handpuppet performance stems from her three years of study with master puppeteer Li Tien-lu of Taiwan; a video she made for the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts about the famous Monkey King (one of Tang’s disciples) can be seen here.

This rare performance of Taiwanese Chang Chung Hsi (“theater of the palm of the hand”) will be an eye-opening introduction to Chinese handpuppetry, and a rich complement to the equally impressive display of Red Gate Chinese shadow figures now on display at the Ballard Museum.

Like all Spring Puppet Forum series events, this performance of Galapagos Puppet Theater is free and open to the public.  The Ballard Museum will be open for viewing an hour before showtime, and refreshments will be served at the event.

Spring Puppet Forums at the Ballard Institute, Wednesdays April 11 – May 9!

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus announces its Spring Puppet Forum Series, to be held Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Ballard Institute (except for the April 25th event, to be held at UConn’s Nafe Katter Theater).  The Spring Puppet Forum Series will include puppet performances, talks on puppetry and teaching, and new films for puppet theater by UConn graduate Puppet Arts students and professional puppeteers from around the United States.

The schedule for the Spring Puppet Forum Series includes the following events:

1. Wednesday, April 11: Galapagos Puppets, The Banana Princess

Join us for an evening of traditional Chinese handpuppet theater as Margaret Moody and Madeleine Beresford of Boston’s Galapagos Puppets perform The Banana Princess, an episode from the epic Chinese classic Journey to the West.  Margaret Moody’s expertise in Chinese handpuppet performance stems from her three years of study with master puppeteer Li Tien-lu of Taiwan.

         In The Banana Princess the travelling monk Tang and his disciples find their path to India blocked by a blazing fire mountain. Only a magical fan owned by the powerful Banana Princess can put out the fire, but she doesn’t want to lend it. The disciples use their powers of transformation and persuasion before finally winning the fan.

This rare performance of Taiwanese Chang Chung Hsi (“theater of the palm of the hand”) will be an eye-opening introduction to Chinese handpuppetry, and a rich complement to the current exhibition of Chinese shadow puppets (Red Gate: Pauline Benton and Chinese Shadow Theater) now on display at the Ballard Museum.

2. Wednesday, April 18: Carol Sterling, Puppetry in Education: New Opportunities

Join Carol Sterling and students and teachers from UConn’s Puppet Arts Program for a fascinating discussion of the opportunities and challenges of puppetry in education.  Carol Sterling is a celebrated puppeteer, art educator, and longtime Director of Arts in Education for the Brooklyn Arts Council, as well as a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award for Arts Education from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

 

3. Wednesday, April 25: New Works in Puppet Film from UConn’s Puppet Arts Program*

See exciting new works in puppet film by graduate students from UConn’s famed Puppet Arts Program: Ki Hong Kim, Maya Ahuja, Travis Lope, Caitlin Shirts and Fergus Walsh. This event is co-sponsored by the Ballard Institute and the UConn Puppet Arts Program. (*Please note: this event will be help in the Nafe Katter Theater on UConn’s Main Campus.)

 

4. Wednesday, May 9: Heather Henson presents Handmade Puppet Dreams V

Join us for a rare showing of 14 new, awe-inspiring, short, live-action puppet films from the latest edition of the acclaimed Handmade Puppet Dreams series, presented by Heather Henson and Ibex Inc.   This touring festival of independent artists’ films explores innovative puppetry captured in spectacular real-time images, and will change your perception of puppetry in the 21st century.

The films of Handmade Puppet Dreams V include:

Moonfishing (11:28), directed by David Michael Friend (Brooklyn, NY).  A fisherman’s hobby of sculpting is interrupted when he must perform his monthly task of illuminating his town.

– Baby Trashes Bar in Las Palmas (1:21), directed by Johannes Nyholm (Sweden).  A middle-aged lady on a holiday in the sun tries to make new friends and have a good time.

– Dirty Night Clowns (4:54), directed by Ryan Gibeau (Brooklyn, NY).  We all have our childhood fears, and this short film explores one puppet’s reaction to an intruder in his house, discovering that what at first seems scary can sometimes be unexpectedly pleasant. .

– I’ll Forget You (3:16), directed by Natasha Pincus (Melbourne, Australia).  A single-shot music video that tells a story symbolic of that told in the song I’LL FORGET YOU. The ‘lovers’ in the video are continually brought together and pulled apart until the man concedes to continue living as he had started out – on his own.

– InnerCity (8:21), directed by Alain Fournier (Quebec Canada).  A boy with only pigeons for company tries to seduce his remote neighbor with wacky inventions.

– Nolan’s Cheddar (1:29), directed by John Nolan (London, England). A curious rat meets his untimely demise when he finds cheese in a trap. Or does he…?

Douce Dame (4:34), directed by Bradley Kemp (NYC, NY).  A young painter, obsessed with his muse, continually paints a memory of her… until she lures him away.

– Rocket Monkey (7:58), directed by Gwendolyn Warnock and Kirjan Waage (NYC, NY).  Based on rocket launchings of animals in the 1930’s and 1940’s comes a story about our first space explorers.

– Wye Oak (4:40), directed by Katherine Fahey and Michael O’Leary (Baltimore, MA).  Paintings by Katherine Fahey and photography by Michael O’Leary illustrate Wye Oak’s song “Fish”.

 Magical Sniffy Thing (2:54), directed by Jamie Shannon (Toronto, Canada).  When you’re lost and hungry, make a wish to meet the Magical Sniffy Thing.

– Junk Palace (14:17), directed by Lyon Hill (Columbia, SC).  Using elaborate paper puppets, Junk Palace takes you into the world of real-life hoarders the Collyer brothers and imagines what life was like for these unique individuals.

– Time Machine (4:52), directed by Vincent Bova (NYC, NY).  Fafa builds a time machine and his dear friend Mario deals with the ripple effects on the space-time continuum.

– The Curse (5:05), directed by Liam Hurley (NYC, NY). The Curse is a waltz with a love story between an archaeologist and her mummy.

– Higgley Pigglety Pop! (24:00), directed by Chris Lavis and Maciaek Szczerbowski (Montreal, Canada).  Based on the Maurice Sendak children’s book of the same title, this short film tells the fictional adventures of a dog named Jennie. Featuring the voices of Meryl Streep, Forest Whitaker and Spike Jonze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UConn Puppet Slam! — Saturday, January 21st at 8 p.m.!

Lindsay McCaw of the Dolly Wagglers

Join us Saturday night, January 21st at 8 p.m. in the Studio Theater on UConn’s Main Campus to experience the Spring 2012 UConn Puppet Slam!  See exciting new works by celebrated puppeteers from the Northeast, as well as new creations by emerging artists from UConn’s famed Puppet Arts Program.

The UConn Puppet Slam will include Lindsay McCaw and Adam Cook, who, as The Dolly Wagglers, will perform Polka Your Finger Out Polka (a cantastoria or picture performance) and Everything In Moderation All at Once (a cranky); Rose Friedman and Justin Lander of Vermont’s Modern Times Theater, performing The City, a toy theater show based on a story by Herman Hesse; Jim Napolitano (of Nappy’s Puppets) performing one his famed shadow puppet shows; and works by students from the renowned University of Connecticut Puppet Arts Program, including Carianne Hoff, Nicole Hartigan (joined by special guest performer Ryan Hartigan), Anna Fitzgerald, Leah Sylvain, Seth Shaffer and Kali Therrien.

Modern Times Theater

This event is free and open to the public–tell your friends, and better yet bring them with you for an exciting evening of surprising innovation and thought-provoking artistry.  For directions to the Studio Theater see this site.  The UConn Puppet Slams are supported by a generous grant from the Puppet Slam Network.

See “Mi Casa es Su Casa” at The Wadsworth Atheneum on Saturday, February 11th!!

As part of its year-long “World of Puppetry in Hartford” project the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Mi Casa Family Service & Education Center, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art will present a free performance of Mi Casa es Su Casa on Saturday, February 11 as part of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Second Saturdays for Families series.  The entire Second Saturday event begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 12:30.  Mi Casa es Su Casa will begin at 11:30.  The Wadsworth Atheneum is located at 600 Main Street in Hartford.

The workshops and performance are all part of the Ballard Institute’s  yearlong “World of Puppetry in Hartford” project, a series of exhibitions, workshops and performances dedicated to spreading the word about puppetry in Hartford, in collaboration with the UConn Health Center, the Mark Twain House and Museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and Billings Forge Community Works.

For more information see the Wadsworth Atheneum webpage for this event.

This project has been made possible by the generous assistance of the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation and Judith Zachs.

Ballard Museum closing for the season December 18th

If you have not yet had a chance to see our exhibition Frank Ballard: An Odyssey of a Life in Puppetry, we invite you to spend some time during the next two weekends at the Ballard Museum because it will be closing December 18th, 2011.  Frank Ballard: An Odyssey of a Life on Puppetry is paired with our second exhibition, Frank Ballard: Roots and Branches, which will be on display when the spring 2012 season begins.   The museum is open for visitors Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 12-5 p.m.–please come by to see both exhibits, and to find some holiday gifts in our museum store.  The Ballard Museum will reopen Sunday, March 25, 2012 with the return of Frank Ballard: Roots and Branches, and the premiere of a new exhibit of Chinese shadow puppets from the collection of 1930s and 40s puppet pioneer Pauline Benton.

String puppets from Roots and Branches exhibition. Photo by Richard Termine

Frank Ballard: An Odyssey of a Life in Puppetry

Frank Ballard’s rich career as a director, designer, and teacher is celebrated in this retrospective curated by UConn alumna Rolande Duprey.  The exhibition presents the stories, designs, construction processes, and performance of Ballard’s many productions, including rare video footage, as well as the many personal challenges Ballard faced in his career.  Featuring puppets and sets from The BluebirdTwo By TwoH.M.S. PinaforeThe Magic Flute,Peer GyntThe Golden Cockerel and other productions.