News

Free Sendak-Inspired Toy Theater Spectacle and Exhibit Tours on 10/8

(Photo credit: Sydney Herdle/UConn Photo)

In conjunction with its exhibition Swing into Action: Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will offer an afternoon of free tours and performances. Join Ballard Institute Interim Co-Director Matt Sorensen for free exhibit tours at noon, 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. UConn Puppet Arts graduate students Abigail Baird and Jaron Hollander present a brief toy theater performance based on Maurice Sendak’s 1993 book, We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy on Oct. 8 at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. 

Abigail Baird is a tenacious and dedicated arts educator, director, choreographer, and acrobatic-actor. Her most notable and successful artistic creation is Aerial Animation, a modern adaptation of silent film storytelling which competed through the semifinals on America’s Got Talent and La France a un Incroyable Talent. For over a decade Abigail was the Creative Director of Educational Programming at Kinetic Arts Center in Oakland, California for ten years. She has a self-designed BFA in technical theatre, sculpture and puppetry from the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. She is returning to her roots to study puppetry at UConn as a graduate student.

Jaron Aviv Hollander is a circus and theater performer, director, teacher, and now a student at UConn to pursue an MFA in puppet arts. He is the founding Artistic Director (now emeritus) of Kinetic Arts Center, a circus center in Oakland where he has been teaching and directing circus for 12 years. He is also known as the co-creator and co-performer of “The Submarine Show” an internationally award-winning, critically acclaimed physical comedy. His 30-year career includes performing in Cirque Du Soleil, The Aurora Theatre, Make*A*Circus and Impact Theatre, to name a few. Jaron has a BA in theatre from the University of California Santa Cruz and studied at Dell’arte School of Physical Theatre, The San Francisco Circus Center (under master Lu Yi) and Circo Arts New Zealand.

Swing into Action, created in partnership with The Maurice Sendak Foundation, looks at the various ways Sendak designed, collected, and collaborated with puppets and puppet productions, from his childhood days making mechanical toys with his brother, to his collections of Mickey Mouse memorabilia, his inventive collaborations with puppeteer Amy Luckenbach, his puppet designs for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Mozart Opera Goose of Cairo, and the way Sendak’s book inspired Sonny Gerasimowicz’s creatures for Spike Jonze’s film Where the Wild Things Are. 

Reservations are not required. Masks are recommended but not required. 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.

“Spike Jonze, Maurice Sendak, and the World of Puppetry”: A Pre-Recorded Online Puppet Forum, 9/22

As a special Fall Online Puppet Forum event, in conjunction with its current exhibition Swing Into Action: Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry, the Ballard Institute will present “Spike Jonze, Maurice Sendak, and the World of Puppetry,” a discussion with the famed director of Where the Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich, and other acclaimed films, including Tell Them Anything You Want, a documentary portrait of Sendak. In conversation with Ballard Institute director John Bell, Jonze discusses his artistic relationship with Maurice Sendak, the making of his film Where the Wild Things Are, his other film work that incorporates puppets and objects, and the nature of objects in performance. This Puppet Forum will be available online on the Ballard Institute’s Facebook page and YouTube channel, beginning Sept. 22, at 7 p.m.

Spike Jonze’s arms, legs, head, shoes, teeth, and thoughts are copyrighted and controlled by Universal Comcast Disney Corporation trademark 2019. He’s a Fulbright scholar, an MIT Media Lab guest, and half a MacArthur genius. He’s made 84 movies and three birthday cakes and has cried at 32% of the movie trailers on YouTube. He’s not allowed in the city of Vancouver.

Swing Into Action, on display at the Ballard Institute Wednesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Dec. 16, 2022, looks at the various ways Sendak designed, collected, and collaborated with puppets and puppet productions, from his childhood days making mechanical toys with his brother, to his collections of Mickey Mouse memorabilia, his inventive collaborations with puppeteer Amy Luckenbach, his puppet designs for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Mozart Opera Goose of Cairo, and the way Sendak’s book inspired Sonny Gerasimowicz’s creatures for Spike Jonze’s film Where the Wild Things Are.

Workshop and Performances of Migraciones / Migrations by Paradox Teatro on 8/20 and 8/21

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present two performances of Migraciones / Migrations by Paradox Teatro on Saturday, August 20 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, August 21 at 2 p.m. In addition, Paradox Teatro will lead a puppet building and performance workshop on Saturday, Aug. 20 from 1-3 p.m. All events will take place at the Ballard Institute Theater located at 1 Royce Circle, Storrs, CT 06268.  

Migraciones / Migrations follows a photojournalist’s journey to learn the story of refugees migrating across sand, water, and shadows. The theme of migrations in the production is informed by the increasing border conflicts between the Paradox Teatro co-founders’ home countries, the United States and Mexico. This performance creates a unique layering of hybrid body puppets, sand drawings, and shadow puppetry projections to reveal each character’s search for a new home. These visual mediums are scored by live music and poetry in English and Spanish so that Migraciones / Migrations can communicate with audiences across languages and cultures. To learn more about the performances and purchase tickets, visit bimp.ticketleap.com/migraciones/.

Paradox Teatro will also lead a two-hour workshop to demonstrate techniques and technologies for sand drawing and shadow puppetry on light tables, as well as camera techniques for large-scale video projection in live performance. Spaces for the workshop are limited. Registration is $15/person. To reserve a spot, visit bimp.ticketleap.com/paradox-workshop/

Paradox Teatro is a multidisciplinary performing arts company founded in 2017 by Artistic Co-Directors Sofía Padilla and Davey T Steinman. They have toured performances and taught artistic residencies in Europe, United States, and Mexico.

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.

Paradox Teatro’s visit is funded in part by the Mexican Coinversiones Grant from the Sistema de Apoyos a la Creación y Proyectos Culturales, the Jim Henson Foundation, and the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

Our Magnificent Monster Circus by CactusHead Puppets on 7/9 at 11 AM

As part of its 2022 Summertime Saturday Puppet Show Series, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will once again present Our Magnificent Monster Circus by Massachusetts-based CactusHead Puppets on July 9 at 11 a.m. ET in Betsy Paterson Square. In the event of inclement weather for outdoor performances, the show will be rescheduled for Sunday, July 10 at 11 a.m. ET. This performance is co-sponsored by the Mansfield Downtown Partnership. 

Come one, come all, to a circus like no other! Encounter magnificent creatures from the wilds of your imagination as their quirky human caretaker tries to teach them new tricks. Kids can lend a hand to Eustice the Unicycling Unimonster, make friends with a Fiery Fanged Worm, cheer for Agnes the many-legged Acropod, and more! This colorful, silly, multi-sensory show full of friendly monsters is a perfect match for young audiences.

CactusHead Puppets was started in 2010 by married couple John and Megan Regan. Since then they have created several fun family shows, often based on favorite, familiar folktales, and have toured throughout the Northeast. They are a Resident Touring Company with Puppet Showplace Theater, and  Megan and John are both graduates of the UConn Puppet Arts program. Megan is originally from the Kansas City area, where she worked with Paul Mesner Puppets, now known as Mesner Puppet Theater. John is from western Massachusetts, and is honored to be performing in the same venues where he saw puppet shows growing up.

Due to generous support during our 2022 UConn Gives campaign, admission is free, but donations are encouraged. Reservations are not required. Chairs will not be provided, so groups are encouraged to bring their own blankets and seating. Seating space will be first come, first served. 

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

2022 Summertime Saturday Puppet Shows!

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will present its Summertime Saturday Puppet Show Series with outdoor performances at 11 a.m. ET on three consecutive Saturdays from July 9 through July 23, 2022 in Betsy Paterson Square in Downtown Storrs. In the event of inclement weather, performances will take place at the same time the following day, Sunday. Admission for all Summertime Saturday Puppet Show performances is free; donations are greatly appreciated. The Summertime Saturday Puppet Show Series is co-sponsored by the Mansfield Downtown Partnership.

The schedule of Summertime Saturday Puppet Shows includes the following:

July 9: Our Magnificent Monster Circus by CactusHead Puppets

Rain date: July 10 at 11 a.m. ET

Welcome back this talented Massachusetts company, created by UConn Puppet Arts alumni Megan and John Regan, as they present a circus like no other! Encounter magnificent creatures from the wilds of your imagination as their quirky human caretaker tries to teach them new tricks. Thrill to Eustice the Unicycling Unimonster, the Fiery Fanged Worm, Agnes the many-legged Acropod, more magnificent monsters from this puppet menagerie!

July 16: Bugsy and Friends by Pumpernickel Puppets

Rain date: July 17 at 11 a.m. ET

Join John McDonough’s Pumpernickel Puppets, from Worcester, Massachusetts, as they present Bugsy and his puppet friends in a musical variety show featuring hand, string, and life-size puppets. Plus, Bugsy and Friends also includes a puppet-making demonstration! This fun and interactive show is appropriate for children of all ages. 

July 23: The Lion & The Mouse by WonderSpark Puppets

Rain date: July 24 at 11 a.m. ET

New York City’s acclaimed WonderSpark Puppets presents two Aesop’s Fables in a highly interactive double feature: The Lion and the Mouse and The Tortoise and the Hare, two shows which also demonstrate forgiveness, the power of kindness, and good sportsmanship.

Due to generous support during our 2022 UConn Gives campaign, admission is free to all shows, but donations are encouraged.

Reservations are not required. Chairs will not be provided, so groups are encouraged to bring their own blankets and seating. Seating space will be first come, first served. 

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

Grand Opening of “Swing into Action: Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry” on July 7 at 4:30PM

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Swing into Action: Maurice Sendak and the World of Puppetry, curated by Ballard Institute director Dr. John Bell on Thursday, July 7, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. The opening will include in-person performances and an exhibition tour; the exhibition tour will be streamed on Ballard Institute’s Facebook Live (facebook.com/BallardInstitute/). All events will take place at the Ballard Institute, located at 1 Royce Circle in Downtown Storrs. The exhibition will be on display through Friday, December 16, 2022. 

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 exhibition, created in partnership with The Maurice Sendak Foundation, will look at the various ways Sendak designed, collected, and collaborated with puppets and puppet productions, from his childhood days making mechanical toys with his brother, to his collections of Mickey Mouse memorabilia, his inventive collaborations with puppeteer Amy Luckenbach, his puppet designs for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Mozart Opera Goose of Cairo, and the way Sendak’s book inspired Sonny Gerasimowicz’s creatures for Spike Jonze’s film Where the Wild Things Are. 

The grand opening of Swing Into Action will include live performances of a new toy theater spectacle by UConn Puppet Arts graduate students Abigail Baird and Jaron Hollander based on Sendak’s 1993 book We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy.

The Ballard Institute will be open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Face masks are strongly recommended but not required.

“Tito Matos and Puerto Rican Culture” Online Forum on 5/12 at 7PM

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will host “Tito Matos and Puerto Rican Culture” with panelists Pedro Adorno, Emmanuel Santana, Mareia Quintero, Luis Beltran on Thursday, May 12 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

The late Tito Matos, who passed away in January, reinvented the Afro-Puerto Rican singing tradition of plena, and was celebrated in San Juan by a procession that featured music, stilt-dancing, and giant cabesudo portrait masks. This forum will feature Pedro Adorno of the puppet company Agua, Sol y Sereno; Mareia Quintero, a professor cultural studies at the University of Puerto Rico; Emmanuel Santana, a pupil and friend of Tito Matos; and Luis Beltran-Alvarez, a University of Connecticut PhD. student in Political Science. This event is co-sponsored by the El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies.

Mareia Quintero Rivera is Associate Professor at the Masters in Cultural Agency and Administration, and the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, at University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. She obtained her Ph.D. in Social History from the University of São Paulo, Brazil. Her major areas of research include cultural criticism in the Hispanic Caribbean and Brazil; cultural policies, and contemporary arts in Puerto Rico. She is the author of the book A cor e o som da nação: A idéia de mestiçagem na crítica musical do Caribe Hispânico Insular e o Brasil (The color and sound of the nation: The idea of miscegenation in the musical criticism of the Insular Hispanic Caribbean and Brazil) and co-editor of the volume Antología del pensamiento crítico puertorriqueño contemporáneo (Anthology of contemporary Puerto Rican critical thought). She has served as president of the Puerto Rican Commission for Cultural Development, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and the School of Visual Arts and Design. She has been a close collaborator of Agua, Sol y Sereno and is currently working on a book about the group.

Pedro Adorno is co-founder and artistic director of Agua, Sol y Sereno. He is a theater and film director and works as an actor, visual artist, educator and stilt man. Agua, Sol y Sereno, founded by Pedro Adorno and Cathy Vigo in 1993, is a non-profit organization that promotes the development of Puerto Rican experimental theater and the democratization of art to all sectors of the population. It links artistic work to social reality through pieces that explore a broad aesthetic range, parades with stilters and big heads puppets, creative workshops, and community residences.

Luis J. Beltrán-Álvarez is from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He earned his bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, and earned a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the same institution. Currently he is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science in Political Theory and Comparative Politics at the University of Connecticut. His main research interests are Political Subjectivities, Social Movements,  Decolonial Feminism, Anticolonialism and Decoloniality, Anarchism, Populism, Philosophy of Race/Racism, and Discourse Theory.

Emanuel Santana is a plenero and artist born and raised in Santurce, Puerto Rico. A friend and pupil of Tito Matos, he is also part of the organizing collective Plenazos Callejeros. He also participates and works together in La Goyco community workshop, an organization dedicated to the empowerment, solidarity, and democracy of the community of Santurce. La Goyco’s primary focus is education, culture, and health programs via the empowerment of the community. 

 

Bread and Puppet Theater’s “The Persians” on 4/23 and 4/24

Vermont’s internationally acclaimed Bread and Puppet Theater will return to the University of Connecticut for two outdoor afternoon performances of Aeschylus’ tragedy The Persians on April 23 and 24, 2022

The show, performed by the Bread and Puppet company together with over 20 community volunteers, will bring together musicians, composers, builders and puppeteers from many eras of Bread and Puppet’s history, and includes giant puppets, flying plastic, Lubberland gesturing, a chorus of screamers, and Johann Sebastian Bach. Bread and Puppet Theater founder and director Peter Schumann explained his interpretation of the 472 BCE tragedy in this manner: “When Athens commissioned Aeschylus to write the official celebration piece for the Greeks’ miraculous victory over the vastly superior Persian Empire invasion force they must have expected just that: a glorification of national prowess & skill. What they got instead is the opposite: heartrending compassion for the slain enemy, lamentation for the despairing mothers and widows of the slain warriors. Can our own permanently warring military industrial empire learn from this?”

Tickets for Bread and Puppet Theater’s The Persians are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and can be purchased online at https://bimp.ticketleap.com/the-persians/. Performances will take place outdoors on UConn’s South Campus Lawn, except in case of inclement weather, in which case performances will take place indoors at a location to be announced. Masks are recommended, but not required, for audience members at either outdoor or indoor performances. Seating will be first come, first served. For outdoor shows, please bring chairs and blankets. 

In conjunction with performances of The Persians, join us for two other activities with Bread and Puppet Theater!

Street Shows, Wednesday, April 20 at 12 noon: Bread and Puppet Theater will perform pop-up street shows performed on Fairfield Way will reflect Bread and Puppet’s re-invention of the traditional picture-performance form known as cantastoria, in which a series of colorful paintings are sung and narrated by a chorus of performers and brass musicians. This colorful, celebratory, and thought-provoking performance is suitable for all ages and free.

Puppet Forum, Thursday, April 21 at 12 noon: Bread and Puppet Theater founder and director Peter Schumann and musicians and puppeteers from the Bread and Puppet company will discuss the process of creating a new production of a 472 BCE tragedy lamenting war, defeat, and destruction, with colorful oversize puppets, music by Johann Sebastian Bach, dance, and giant paintings. How can music, sculpture, dance, and painting combine to re-envision one of the oldest Greek tragedies for the 21st century? This event is co-sponsored by the Environmental Theatre Committee of the UConn Department of Dramatic Arts.

This forum will take place in the UConn Dramatic Arts Department’s Mobius Theatre, and will be livestreamed on Zoom (registration required) and Facebook Live, and will be available afterwards on the Ballard Institute’s Facebook page and YouTube Channel.

Funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

 

The Persians Performance Information

Run time: 80 minutes

Age recommendations: For all ages

Location Information: South Campus Lawn is near the Rome Commons Ballroom and Anna M. Snow Residence Hall, 626 Gilbert Rd, Storrs, CT 06269.

Seating Information: Open seating outdoors; bring your own chairs and blankets. Seating is first come, first served and will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Parking Information: Attendees should park in the S Lot on UConn’s campus, which is a short walk to the South Campus Lawn. 

For those with disabilities, a limited number of parking spots will be available in a small lot off of Gilbert Road right next to the performance space.

Covid Guidelines: see https://covid.uconn.edu/campus-guidelines/.

Vaccination Policy: All patrons must comply with the COVID-19 Patron Vaccination Attestation at the point of purchase, located on the Ballard Institute Ticketleap page; however patrons will no longer be required to present physical proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test upon entry to the building.

Masking: Masks are recommended but not required.

Bathrooms: Portable toilets will be available for audience members. 

Press Kit: https://tinyurl.com/yc84np75