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UConn hosts 2015 National Puppetry Festival Aug. 10-16, 2015
Puppeteers from throughout the United States will converge on the campus of the University of Connecticut the week of Aug. 10-16 for the 2015 National Puppetry Festival.
The festival is presented by Puppeteers of America and is expected to be the largest and most extensive gathering of its kind that will also mark the 50th year of the internationally renowned UConn Puppet Arts Program, which was founded by the legendary Frank W. Ballard.
Highlights of the festival will include performances by more than 25 national and international puppeteers, 30 professional workshops, six visual art exhibitions, “Puppetry in Film” series, a giant puppet parade and nightly Festival Pub Showcase.
Four master puppeteers also will be honored: Caroll and Debbie Spinney of “Sesame Street,” Peter Schumann of the politically radical Bread & Puppet Theater and Chuck McCann, the New York children’s television star and voice actor.
Among the performances that will showcase the innumerable approaches to the art of puppetry will be:
--Shadow puppets by Drama Works of Brooklyn, N.Y.;
--Bunraku and shadow styles of award-winning Bulgarian-born puppeteer Margarita Blush of the UConn faculty;
--Brazilian hand-puppets by ChicoSimões;
--Classic rod puppetry by Chinese Theatre Works of Queens, N.Y.
There will also be new interpretations of “The Wizard of Oz” by The Frisch Marionettes of Cincinnati, Ohio and “The Fisherman’s Dream” by Microscope Toy Theater of Los Angeles as well as productions of “Squirrel Stole My Underpants" by Bonnie Duncan of Boston, “White Like Me: a Honky Dory Puppet Show” by Paul Zaloom of Los Angeles and “Captain Boycott” by Bread and Puppet Theater of Glover, Vt.
Puppeteers of America was created in 1937 not long after the success of its first annual gathering of puppetry practitioners in 1936. The national non-profit organization has produced over 160 national and regional festivals to celebrate and share the art of puppetry. The organization has also published their quarterly magazine, The Puppetry Journal, since 1949. www.puppeteers.org/
UConn’s Puppet Arts Programis a unique subdivision of the school's Department of Dramatic Arts. The program was founded in 1965 by Professor Frank W. Ballard, who had joined the faculty of the theater department as a set designer and technical director eight years earlier. After three years, the demand for these courses had grown so drastically that the department had to limit enrollment in puppetry classes. In 1990, Bart P. Roccoberton, Jr. succeeded Frank Ballard as Director of the Puppet Arts Program, which now offers BFA, MA, & MFA degrees in the puppet art form. Over 500 student puppet productions have been presented since 1964. www.drama.uconn.edu/
The Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry was created through the efforts of UConn Puppet Arts Program alumni and community supporters of Professor Frank W. Ballard, beginning in 1987, to preserve Professor Ballard's work and create a national home for puppetry in the United States. The Institute received its name in 1992, and in 1996 established a museum, archives, and storage facility on the University of Connecticut's Depot Campus. In March 2014, the Ballard Institute moved into a brand-new location in Storrs Center, where it offers exhibitions, workshops, museum tours, lectures, forums, performances, and other programs that promote the global arts of puppetry. www.bimp.uconn.edu www.facebook.com/
Additional sponsors for this year's National Puppetry Festival include: UConn School of Fine Arts, UConn Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, UConn El Instituto (Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies), UNIMA-USA, Jane Henson Foundation, andBob's Discount Furniture Charitable Foundation.
Mary Curtin (on behalf of National Puppetry Fest))