Featured

“My Night in the Planetarium” by Little Uprisings on 3/25

As part of its 2023 Spring Performance Series, the Ballard Institute is pleased to present My Night in the Planetarium by the Massachusetts-based educational organization Little Uprisings on March 25, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

Best-selling children’s book author Innosanto Nagara’s true story of art and social protest comes to life as a dynamic pop-up puppet show. Created and performed by Boston artist/activist Tanya Nixon-Silberg, the show transports audiences to Jakarta in the 1970s, where 7-year-old Inno learns firsthand how a play has the power to spark a resistance movement. Featuring designs and puppets by UConn Puppet Arts alumna Sarah Nolen, the story is brought to life with a rich soundscape, visual transformations, and kid-centered lessons about social justice. Recommended for ages 5+.

To purchase tickets, visit: bimp.ticketleap.com/planetarium/ 

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 bimp.ticketleap.com. 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 bimp@uconn.edu. Masks are recommended but not required. 

 

About the Company and Collaborators 

Through a multi-faceted, creative approach that centers the beauty and power of Blackness, Little Uprisings endeavors to build long lasting, deep and sustainable relationships in order for change to take root, growing a practice that allows justice to take hold daily. How can Black and Brown children thrive in a system that was not set up for them to thrive? And see the richness and beauty in themselves that is so rarely affirmed within larger institutions? How can white children unlearn deeply rooted bias in order to adopt a lens of racial justice, challenge existing systems, and stand with individuals in fighting oppression? 

Tanya Nixon-Silberg (Creator and Puppeteer) is a Black mother, puppeteer, educator, facilitator and founder of Little Uprisings—an organization focused on centering racial justice and liberation with kids and their caregiving allies. Little Uprisings’ mission—be it in schools with teachers developing culturally relevant curricula, in a community center with children talking about gentrification, or helping parents develop their own values about racial justice—is actively anti-racist, joyful, and Black affirming; steadfastly focused on our collective liberation. You will mostly find Tanya playing with and learning from her 10 year old kid, dreaming up fun ways to engage children in racial justice through puppetry, and radically imaging how we all get free together.

Innosanto Nagara (Author and Illustrator ) was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, and moved to the U.S. in 1988 to study zoology at UC Davis. Now an activist and a graphic designer based in California, he writes and illustrates social justice-themed children’s books for all ages, including the best-selling board book A is for Activist and its companion Counting on Community. Those publications were followed by picture books My Night in the Planetarium, and The Wedding Portrait. M is for Movement aka Humans Can’t Eat Golf Balls is his newest work for middle grade readers.

Roxanna Myhrum (Stage Director and Dramaturg) is an award-winning producer, stage director, and puppetry coach with credits at almost all of Boston’s regional theaters. As the Artistic Director of Puppet Showplace Theater (2010-2021), she launched the Incubator New Works Development program to support new shows by Massachusetts-based artists. During her tenure she shepherded 15 world premieres to stage, many of which went on to tour nationally and internationally. She has taught puppetry and show-creation to all ages, pre-K to adult, and has served on the boards of Puppeteers of America and the Jim Henson Foundation.

Sarah Nolen (Co-Writer, Puppet Design, Production) is a puppeteer and filmmaker originally from Austin, Texas. As Puppet Showplace Theater’s resident artist, she performs regularly for youth and family audiences around New England and teaches puppetry classes to all ages. Her three original productions, Lisa the Wise, Judy Saves the Day, and The Fairy Tailor have all toured extensively in the Northeast and beyond. In addition to her own shows, Sarah has done puppet builds for Netflix, Suffolk University, Boston College, and more. Sarah earned her BFA in film from Southern Methodist University, and an MFA in Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut.

“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: bimp.ticketleap.com/the-baffo-box-show/

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 bimp.ticketleap.com. 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 bimp@uconn.edu. 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.

Now on Exhibit! Masks and Puppets of Ralph Lee

For over 60 years, Ralph Lee has created masks and puppets for wide-ranging theater and dance projects and public celebrations that highlight vital elements of the creatures, characters, demons or deities performed. This exhibit features a variety of masks, puppets, and giant figures from Ralph Lee’s robust career as Artistic Director of the Mettawee River Theatre Company, as well as collaborations with dance and theater companies, such as the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, The Repertory Theatre of Lincoln Center, and Jean Erdman’s Theater of the Open Eye. The exhibit includes masks and giant figures that appeared in the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, co-founded and directed by Ralph Lee for its first 12 years. Throughout his work there are many references to times gone by, as well as expressions of our essential connection with the natural world. The exhibition will be on display through Sunday, May 28, 2023. 

Topics in Japanese Puppetry Online Forum on 12/6 at 7PM

As its final 2022 Fall Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host Topics in Japanese Puppetry moderated by Dr. Claudia Orenstein, with panelists Dr. Mari Boyd, Dr. Yoko Yamaguchi, and filmmaker Zach Dorn, on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will include a pre-recorded discussion followed by a live Q and A with the audience and will take place on Zoom (registration required) and Facebook Live and will be available afterwards on the Ballard Institute’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel

Japanese puppetry is a diverse field that goes beyond the well-known bunraku tradition. Guests will present their current research related to Japanese puppetry including the influence of German modernism on the development of puppetry in twentieth-century Japan, the contemporary and traditional work of Youkiza marionette theater as a new generation prepares to take over, and Japan’s tradition of fusuma, shifting painted screen performances. Pre-recorded presentations will be followed by further live discussion on related topics and Q and A with the audience. This forum is co-sponsored by the UConn Asian American Cultural Center and Asian and Asian American Studies Institute.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Moderator – Claudia Orenstein, Theatre Professor at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY, has spent nearly two decades writing on contemporary and traditional puppetry in the US and Asia. Recent publications include the co-edited volumes Women and Puppetry: Critical and Historical Investigations and The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance. She worked as dramaturg on Tom Lee and kuruma ningyō master Nishikawa  Koryū V’s Shank’s Mare. She is a Board Member of UNIMA-USA and Associate Editor of Asian Theatre Journal. Current book projects are Reading the Puppet Stage: Reflections on Dramaturgy and Performing Objects and a two-volume co-edited anthology with Tim Cusack, Puppet and Spirit: Ritual, Religion, and Performing Objects. She received a 2021-22 Fulbright Research Fellowship for research on ritual puppetry in Japan.

Mari Boyd is Professor Emeritus at Sophia University, Tokyo and a researcher and translator of modern Japanese theatre including material performance. Mari Boyd is the author of The Aesthetics of Quietude: Ota Shogo and the Theatre of Divestiture (Sophia University Press, 2006) and Japanese Contemporary Objects, Manipulators, and Actors in Performance (Sophia University Press, 2020). She has contributed numerous articles to Japanese- and English-language theatre periodicals and books, such as “Modern Meta-patterns” in A History of Japanese Theater (Cambridge University Press, 2016). As translator, contributed to the 10-volume Half a Century of Japanese Theatre series (Kinokuniya, 1999-2008) and is on the editorial committee for the ENGEKI: Japanese Theatre in the New Millennium anthology series (Japan Playwrights Association, 2016-). She is also an editor of e-Journal (Japan Society of Theatre Research).

Zach Dorn is a filmmaker, performing artist, and writer. Dorn’s multimedia puppet performances and stop-motion films have premiered at Ars Nova (New York), St. Ann’s Warehouse (New York), REDCAT (Los Angeles), and The Toronto International Film Festival. In 2016, Dorn was selected as an inaugural Julie Taymor World Theater Fellow and spent one year studying the use of automata in festival performance. While in Tokyo, he apprenticed under psychoanalyst turned experimental theatre director, Kuro Tanino. In 2022, Dorn expanded his research into Japanese sliding panel theater, fusuma karakuri, on the island of Tokushima as an Ishibashi Foundation /  Japan  Foundation  Fellow for Research on Japanese  Art. Dorn received his MFA in Experimental Animation from Calarts in 2021 and is currently developing a new puppet performance in collaboration with the experimental musician Aron Dahl and the Norwegian Arts Council.

Yoko Yamaguchi is Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and Lecturer at Waseda University. She also serves on the editorial board of the Japan Unima Yearbook and is an international programmer of Puppet Theatre PUK, Tokyo. She earned her Ph.D. in Aesthetics from Tokyo University of the Arts in 2017, and received research fellowships from Klassik Stiftung in Weimar in 2019 and from Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte in Munich in 2022.  Her current research focuses on the evolution of the discourse on puppet theater (ningyo-geki/ningyo-shibai) in Japan since the 1900s as well as the the formation of modern Japanese puppetry beginning in the 1920s under the influence of European puppetry.

Sleeping Beauty by Tanglewood Marionettes on 12/3 at 11AM

As part of its 2022 Fall Puppet Shows, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is pleased to present Sleeping Beauty by Massachusetts-based Tanglewood Marionettes on Dec. 3, 2022 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

A classic tale that appeals to children of all ages, Sleeping Beauty begins in King Felix’s great hall with the celebration of Princess Aurora’s birth. The party goes awry when the Wicked Witch arrives and curses the princess. Will the curse come true? Will someone with a “true heart” appear? Join us as Tanglewood Marionettes performs this beloved fairy tale with beautifully handcrafted marionettes brought to life by a master puppeteer. Recommended for ages 4+. Masks recommended but not required. 

For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit: bimp.ticketleap.com/sleeping-beauty-tanglewood.

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, by calling 860-486-8580, or online at bimp.ticketleap.com/sleeping-beauty-tanglewood. A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at the Ballard Institute on the day of 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. Parking is free for the first two hours and $1 per hour thereafter. 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 bimp@uconn.edu.

Squirrel Stole My Underpants by The Gottabees on 11/19

As part of its 2022 Fall Puppet Shows, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to present Squirrel Stole My Underpants by the Boston-based ensemble The Gottabees on Nov. 19, 2022 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

In this poignantly silly adventure tale for families, Sylvie is sent to the backyard to hang up the laundry. The moment her back is turned, a mischievous squirrel steals her favorite piece of clothing and runs off. When Sylvie gives chase, an entire world emerges from her laundry basket, and curious characters show her the way through mysterious lands. Blending puppetry, dance, and physical theater, The Gottabees (thegottabees.com) create a world that transforms in scale, color, texture, and time! This award-winning puppetry show with live music accompaniment is created and performed by Bonnie Duncan with music by Brendan Burns and Tony Leva. The total run time is 35 minutes plus a Q&A. Masks recommended but not required. 

To learn more about the performance, visit: bimp.ticketleap.com/squirrel-gottabees

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 bimp.ticketleap.com. 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 bimp@uconn.edu.

“The Making of Feel Your Best Self: Development and Scriptwriting” Online Forum on 11/10

As part of the 2022 Fall Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute will host “The Making of Feel Your Best Self: Development and Scriptwriting” moderated by Sandy Chafouleas and Emily Wicks and featuring Sarah Nolen and Yanniv Frank on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Zoom (registration required) and Facebook Live and will be available afterwards on the Ballard Institute’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel

In this forum, Feel Your Best Self creators Sandy Chafouleas and Emily Wicks and script writers Sarah Nolen and Yanniv Frank talk about the development of this unique interdisciplinary collaboration between UConn’s Collaboratory on School and Child Health and Ballard Institute to use puppetry to promote emotional well-being in elementary-aged children. The team discusses the challenges and methods used to take wellness strategies, such as “belly breathing” and “shake out the yuck” and turn them into simple, yet engaging stories starring three puppet friends, Nico, Mena, and CJ.

Feel Your Best Self is designed for elementary-aged kids as an educational toolkit for learning strategies to calm yourself, catch your feelings, and connect with others. The FYBS strategies offer fun and easy ways to help kids (and grown-ups) experience lifts in emotions, feeling, or mood. The toolkit, which features short videos, facilitator steps, reflection journals, strategy cards, and tip sheets, is free and accessible on the website. 

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

Sandra M. Chafouleas, Ph.D., is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Neag Endowed Professor in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Chafouleas also is the founder and co-director of the UConn Collaboratory on School and Child Health (CSCH). She is a licensed psychologist, and teaches primarily in the school psychology program. Dr. Chafouleas makes frequent media appearances, and authors a popular Psychology Today blog on promoting student well-being. Her work focuses on assisting schools in implementation of evidence-informed policies and practices that support the whole child, with specific expertise in strategies to support mental health and emotional well-being. 

For more information: education.uconn.edu/person/sandra-chafouleas

Yanniv Frank is a Sesame Workshop trained puppeteer and a current member of the cast of Sesame Street: The Musical, playing Off-Broadway. He is a current third year Puppet Arts MFA candidate at the University of Connecticut and a graduate of the CUNY Baccalaureate program for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies where he studied Performing and Visual Arts. As an actor, Yanniv has performed in various educational and professional theaters and received Hunter College’s Theatre Workshop Award for the most promising student actor. Yanniv holds a certificate in music and video production from Berklee College of Music and is releasing his first full length album As I Am in November 2022.

Sarah Nolen is a puppeteer and filmmaker known for her versatile and witty work across multiple puppetry styles. Originally from Texas, Sarah now resides in Massachusetts, where she works as a freelance puppeteer, director, and puppet builder for both stage and screen through her company Puppet Motion. She received her MFA in Puppet Arts at the University of Connecticut in 2016. Currently, she is the resident artist at Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline, MA, where she tours her own solo puppet shows around New England. As a builder, Sarah earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for “Outstanding Puppet Design” for her work with Sinking Ship Productions’ A Hunger Artist. She has interned with Puppet Heap in Hoboken, built with AchesonWalsh Studios, and most recently, built and performed puppets for Netflix’s DON’T LOOK UP (2021) and another upcoming release, MOTHERSHIP (2023).

You can learn more about her work at her website: puppetmotion.com

Emily Wicks is the Interim Co-Director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry (BIMP). She received her MA in History and MLIS degree, with a specialization in Museum Studies and Archival Management, from Kent State University in Ohio. She has experience in cultural resource management, historical research, and museums. Before joining the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Emily worked for the Shaker Historical Society in Shaker Heights, Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio.

Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry Online Forum on 11/3

 

As part of the 2022 Fall Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry” with panelists Jonathan Weinberg, Lynn Caponera, Tyler Fallas, and Nick Kraczyna on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. ET. This forum will take place on Zoom (registration required) and Facebook Live and will be available afterwards on the Ballard Institute’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel

Although Maurice Sendak was not a puppeteer, he understood the nature of puppetry’s never-ending fascination with objects, images, movement, music, and text, and how the creation of those combinations with a collaborative team of artists can make puppets come alive. This forum, moderated by Ballard Institute Interim Co-Director Matt Sorensen, will feature Jonathan Weinberg, Lynn Caponera, and Tyler Fallas of The Maurice Sendak Foundation, as well as Nick Kraczyna, husband of the exhibition’s prominently featured artist, the late Amy Luckenbach, to look at the various ways Sendak designed, collected, and collaborated with puppets and puppet productions. This forum is co-sponsored by The Maurice Sendak Foundation.

Forum Speakers

Jonathan Weinberg, Ph.D. is a painter, art historian and curator. He is Curator of the Maurice Sendak Foundation. He is the author of several books including Pier Groups: Art and Sex Along the New York Waterfront and Ambition and Love in American Art. He is the recipient of numerous grants, residencies and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.  He was the lead curator for the touring exhibition Art After Stonewall, 1969-89 organized by the Columbus Museum of Art to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 2019. He is the curator of Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak, which opens at The Columbus Museum of Art that runs from October 21, 2022-March 12, 2023. An exhibition of his GENESIS window paintings and prints is on view at the Ely Center of Contemporary Art in New Haven until January.

Lynn Caponera President of the Board and Executive Director of The Maurice Sendak Foundation. Lynn met Maurice when he and Dr. Eugene Glynn moved to Ridgefield Ct in 1971.  Lynn spent her childhood at the Sendak / Glynn household helping in the garden playing with the dogs and modeling for Maurice for numerous books.  At 19 she moved in as caretaker and companion. Over the years she took on a more rigorous role in Maurice’s professional and personal life till his death in 2012.

Swietlan Nicholas Kraczyna is a painter/printmaker of Russian origin, raised in Poland and Germany, educated in the United States, and resident of Florence, Italy, since 1964. Best known for his multi-plate color etchings, his artwork can be found in private collections and galleries around the world, as well as in the Uffizi Gallery’s Permanent Collection of Prints and Drawings in Florence.Since graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1962, Kraczyna has held over 158 solo exhibitions across five continents. In 1963 he met and married Amy Luckenbach while studying for his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Southern Illinois. He has been Artist in Residence at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH (1988); Palacky University in Olomouc, CZ (1992); and Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY (2007-2008).