News

I Am the Village: A Puppet Pageant Celebrating the Life and Art of Marc Chagall, 4/20 and 4/21

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and the Puppet Arts Program at the University of Connecticut present I Am the Village: A Puppet Pageant Celebrating the Life and Art of Marc Chagall, an MFA production written by UConn Puppet Arts student Alyson Doyle (’24) and directed by Doyle and Mel Carter. I am the Village events—including a community puppet-making workshop, a parade, and the performance of the pageant proper each day—will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ballard Institute and in Betsy Paterson Square, all in Downtown Storrs. These events are co-sponsored by Mansfield Downtown Partnership.

Written by Alyson Doyle, directed by Mel Carter and Alyson Doyle, and scored with traditional klezmer songs and new compositions by renowned clarinetist Nat Seelen of Ezekiel’s Wheels Klezmer Band, this outdoor spectacle features giant colorful figures and fantastic performing objects made of cardboard and paper-mâché floating to life to tell a story of acclaimed modernist painter Marc Chagall—from his beginnings as a poor child in the Pale of Settlement to his legacy as one of the most lauded painters in history.

On both April 20 and 21 in Downtown Storrs, the events will begin at 1:30 p.m. with a free, outdoor public puppet-making workshop at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, where participants can paint an emotive umbrella or fish. At 3:30 you and your creation can be part of a parade around Betsy Paterson Square. The I Am the Village pageant will begin in the Square at 4 p.m., and last 45 minutes. These are free events; no tickets or registration required. All are welcome, but minors must be accompanied by adults. Seating is not provided for the performance, so bring your own chairs and blankets. In case of rain, all events will take place inside the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, located at 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, Conn. 06268.

In addition to the workshop and performance, Alyson Doyle will curate an installation in the Ballard Institute Theater that will share more about the history surrounding Chagall’s life, as it pertains to elements of the pageant’s script. This display will be on exhibit during Ballard Institute operating hours from Wednesday, April 17 to Sunday, April 21.

For more information, or if you require accommodation to attend this event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or bimp@uconn.edu.

“Hao Bang Ah, Dragon!” by Chinese Theatre Works on 4/13

As part of its 2024 Spring Puppet Performance Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to bring back the popular Chinese Theatre Works company of New York City to perform Hao Bang Ah, Dragon! on Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs.  

Hao Bang Ah, Dragon! is the most recent in the series of Chinese Theatre Works’s hand-puppet productions celebrating the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. Each year, the reigning Zodiac animal spirit presides over a mix of traditional Chinese Budaixi (glove puppets) and western-style puppetry. This year’s show features a dozen different dragons, serving up a spicy mix of song, skits, silliness and sage sayings. Special guests include the great Monkey King, who will crash the Dragon King’s party with his usual good cheer and mayhem. Recommended for ages 4+. The show runtime is approximately 40 minutes, with a puppet demo and talkback. Learn and purchase tickets more: bimp.ticketleap.com/hao-bang-ah 

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. 

About the Company

Chinese Theatre Works is dedicated to preserving and promoting traditional Chinese performing arts and creating new works bridging Eastern and Western theatrical aesthetics and forms. It was founded in 2001 by Co-Artistic Directors Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin to present programming drawn from their combined repertoire of traditional Chinese opera, music, dance, and puppetry, and by creating and touring new original productions as well. Their programs spark interest in Chinese cultural traditions among the wider public and build understanding among educators and artists across the globe. 

“Avant-Garde and Propaganda Puppetry in Early 20th-Century Germany” Forum on 4/10

As part of its 2024 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is pleased to host Kasper’s Theater: Avant-Garde and Propaganda Puppetry in Early 20th-Century Germany, a UConn Puppet Forum with Dr. Rachel Herschman of Yale University’s Beinecke Library, on Wednesday, April 10, 2024 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. This forum will also be broadcast via Ballard Institute Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute).

Drawing on her dissertation research, Dr. Rachel Herschman, the Exhibitions and Publications Program Director of Yale University’s Beinecke Library, will discuss how and why German artists turned to puppetry during the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich, and the different ways that puppets could be both icons of rebellious resistance and vehicles for manipulation and control. This event is co-sponsored by UConn’s Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute, the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, and the UConn Department of History.

Rachel Herschman is currently the Exhibitions and Publications Program Director at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Previously, she held curatorial positions at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and The Jewish Museum, and prior to that, worked in museum education at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. Rachel holds a BA degree from McGill University, and an MA and PhD from the University of Washington. She lives in New York City and New Haven.

 Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. For more information or if you require accommodation to attend a forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or bimp@uconn.edu

Two Dinosaurs are Better than One by Talking Hands Theatre on 3/23

As part of the 2024 Spring Puppet Show Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is excited to welcome back Anna Sobel of Talking Hands Theatre of Western Massachusetts to perform Two Dinosaurs are Better than One on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. The performance will replace The Gottabees performance, which was canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.

Meet different kinds of dinosaurs from the Jurassic Era and find out what the dinosaurs plan to do about that big carnivore, Allosaurus, who is pushing everyone else around! Catchy, original songs and bright tabletop puppets make this show fun for the whole family. The show runtime is approximately 40 minutes.

 Talking Hands Theatre was founded in 2004 by artist Anna Sobel, who has been a professional puppeteer since 1998. In 2003 she was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to study puppetry in India as a tool for social change and education. She is now based in Western Massachusetts and tours all over New England to perform. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit bimp.ticketleap.com/dressed

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.

Little Red Ridinghood by A Couple of Puppets on 2/24!

Children squeal with delight throughout this traditional tale with a twist performed by Liz Joyce of A Couple of Puppets. Find out what happens when Little Red gets mixed up with Porquoi the pig, who is in the wrong story. Complete with changing scenery, music and charming hand puppets, this show will have audiences ratting on the wolf and cheering Little Red to safety. Recommended for ages 2+. The show runtime is approximately 40 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the artist.

Liz Joyce of A Couple of Puppets writes, creates, and performs a growing repertoire of works for young audiences and their adults. Subjects include her twists on traditional fairy tales, folktales, educational shows, and original creations. Liz believes that puppetry is the gateway to theater and that this art form breathes beauty and life into storytelling. Trained as a fine artist, Liz is also a certified K-12 Art Education teacher. Since 2001, Liz has hosted many talented puppeteers at Goat on a Boat Puppet Theatre in Sag Harbor, NY which she founded and serves as artistic director.  She recently served on the Board of Directors of the Jim Henson Foundation, and currently serves as President of the Puppeteers of America. Learn more and purchase tickets: bimp.ticketleap.com/ridinghood

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 Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947) Puppet Forum on 2/22

As part of its 2024 Spring Puppet Forum Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry is pleased to host The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo (1884-1947): The Paladins of France in America, a discussion with Dr. Jo Ann Cavallo of Columbia University, on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 at 7 p.m. at the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. This forum will also be broadcast via Ballard Institute Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute). 

In the forum, Dr. Cavallo will discuss her recently published book The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo, the first-ever study of the vibrant popular spectacle of the Manteo family’s puppet theater in New York City in the 1920s and 30s, including founder Agrippino Manteo’s new-world presentation of original Paladini di Francia scripts from his mentors in Sicily.

Jo Ann Cavallo is Professor of Italian and Chair of the Italian Department, Columbia University. She has published widely on Italian literature and culture, especially chivalric epic in popular traditions. Her latest book, The Sicilian Puppet Theater of Agrippino Manteo, was recently awarded a UNIMA-USA Nancy Staub Award and is forthcoming in Italian. Her previous book, The World beyond Europe in the Romance Epics of Boiardo and Ariosto, received a Modern Language Association Publication Award and was also translated into Italian. She has edited several volumes, most recently World Epics and Puppet Theater and Teaching World Epics, and is series editor of the Anthem World Epic and Romance book series.

Admission to this event is free (donations greatly appreciated!), and refreshments will be served. For more information or if you require accommodation to attend a forum, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or bimp@uconn.edu.

Opening of “Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors” on 2/15

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors on Thursday, February 15, with refreshments served at 4:30 p.m. and an in-person exhibition tour at 5 p.m. by curator Dr. Jungmin Song and Ballard Institute director Dr. John Bell, which will also be streamed on Ballard Institute’s Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/). This exhibition opening also kicks off celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the Ballard Institute’s Downtown Storrs location.  All events will take place at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs.

Since its founding in 1989, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry’s collections have grown thanks to the generous contributions from many puppet collectors. Taking Care: Puppets and Their Collectors, curated by Dr. Jungmin Song, will showcase some of the highlights of the collections including 1930s marionettes, Sicilian pupi, Chinese shadow figures, African rod puppets, overhead projector innovations, and Frank Ballard musicals, along with backstories explaining how this global array of puppets came to the Ballard Institute. Taking Care will explore puppet collecting as a vital cultural activity, delving into the various reasons donors dedicate themselves to the preservation of puppetry’s heritage. The exhibition will be on display through June 16, 2024. 

The museum will be closed through February 15 while the new exhibition is installed. The Ballard Institute will be open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. There is no set admission, but visitors are encouraged to pay as they wish. 

A Slice of Crazy Pie by Madison J. Cripps on 12/2

To wrap up its 2023 Fall Puppet Performance Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut is pleased to welcome back Madison J. Cripps with A Slice of Crazy Pie on Dec. 2, 2023 at 11 a.m. in the Ballard Institute Theater, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. 

Step into the enchantment of A Slice of Crazy Pie, a mesmerizing cabaret-style marionette puppet show meticulously crafted by Madison J Cripps. Since 2006, this captivating production weaves interests, viewpoints, and eccentricities into a spellbinding journey. Characters like Pinkey the Mayor and Ratty Ratkinson engage with audiences, while diverse settings from the moon to the street provide intrigue. With themes spanning ecology to well-being, the show’s fluid duration accommodates any space. Beneath the puppetry lies a world of creativity and interaction, where harmonica melodies and singing add depth. Blurring imagination and reality, the show thrives on creative engagement. As the curtains rise, all ages are invited into a captivating realm, a profound exploration of the human spirit, and a shared adventure of fascination. The show runtime is approximately 50 minutes. To learn more, visit bimp.ticketleap.com/crazy-pie.

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.