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Puppetry and Object Theatre

This section is full of content about the art and craft of puppetry and object theatre—performances created primarily using puppets and objects, rather than the full bodies of actors. A great introduction to the topic is our 2015 Puppetry series curated by Jean Marie Keevins.

The Latest

Puppets in the Green Mountains 2022
Video
Puppets in the Green Mountains 2022
Access Through The Arts Panel Discussions Exploring the Theme of Roots and Wings
Saturday 10 September - Sunday 18 September 2022
United States
Coffeehouse Chronicles #165: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre
Video
Coffeehouse Chronicles #165: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre
Part Artist Portrait, Part History Lesson, and Part Community Forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles Takes an Intimate Look at the Development of Downtown Theatre in New York City
Saturday 28 May 2022
New York City
Walk with Amal: The Five-Thousand-Mile-Long Theatrical Provocation
Essay
Walk with Amal: The Five-Thousand-Mile-Long Theatrical Provocation
by verity healey
7 February 2022
event poster for puppets in the green mountains festival 2022.
Puppets in the Green Mountains 2022
Video

Puppets in the Green Mountains 2022

Access Through The Arts Panel Discussions Exploring the Theme of Roots and Wings

Saturday 10 September - Sunday 18 September 2022
United States

Sandglass Theater presented events from the Puppets in the Green Mountains Festival 2022 livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 10 September, Saturday 17 September, and Sunday 18 September 2022.

A puppeteer stands surrounded by large marionette puppets.
Coffeehouse Chronicles #165: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre
Video

Coffeehouse Chronicles #165: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre

Part Artist Portrait, Part History Lesson, and Part Community Forum, Coffeehouse Chronicles Takes an Intimate Look at the Development of Downtown Theatre in New York City

Saturday 28 May 2022
New York City

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club presented Coffeehouse Chronicles #165: Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre livestreaming on the commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 28 May 2022 at 11 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 1 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 2 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

A large crowd walks alongside a life-sized internally controlled puppet.
Walk with Amal: The Five-Thousand-Mile-Long Theatrical Provocation
Essay

Walk with Amal: The Five-Thousand-Mile-Long Theatrical Provocation

7 February 2022

verity healey shares the journey and impact of Walk with Amal, an interactive, artistic project that centered on a large puppet refugee girl travelling through Europe.

Drawn horseshoe crab that reads "We are all Invited" on its back.
Crabs as Ancestors, Cardboard as Collaborator
Essay

Crabs as Ancestors, Cardboard as Collaborator

31 January 2022

Can a new holiday hatch humans closer to freedom? Eli Nixon's homage proposal messes with time, place, and puppets towards building inter- and intra-species solidarities.

A puppet booth with two puppets in the window.
The Brutalities of Mr. Punch
Essay

The Brutalities of Mr. Punch

27 January 2022

Leda Farrow considers the history, legacy, and symbolic potential of Mr. Punch, a hand puppet characterized by his violent acts.

Several performers with large puppets standing in a field.
Ground Lessons: Performing with the Potato People at Bread and Puppet
Essay

Ground Lessons: Performing with the Potato People at Bread and Puppet

26 January 2022

Denise Rogers Valenzuela shares the way that learning to perform improvised crowd scenes with large, flat puppets—called naked population puppets or potato people—encourages an embodied practice that resists individualism.

Several people sitting in a field watching a puppet show.
Bringing Trouble: An Account of a Travelling Bicycle Puppet Show
Essay

Bringing Trouble: An Account of a Travelling Bicycle Puppet Show

25 January 2022

In 2021, Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson of North Barn Theatre launched into a bicycle tour that brought a puppet circus to rural communities across Nova Scotia. They discuss the creation and performance of their show, which joyously embraced troublemaking as a path to activism.

Two people wearing costumes and holding signs that say "Bush" and "World".
Creating Puppet Solidarities
Essay

Creating Puppet Solidarities

24 January 2022

Sarah Plummer kicks off the puppet series by introducing the series contributors and exploring the way their work highlights puppetry’s capacity to form solidarities among humans and nonhumans.

a puppet of frederick douglass sits on a bench reading a newspaper.
The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium
Video

The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium

Bringing together practicing Festival artists with scholars to consider the intersection of puppetry with other disciplines and ideas

Saturday 22 and Saturday 29 January 2022
Chicago, Illinois

The 2022 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and The School of the Art Institute Chicago presented The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network on Saturday 22 January and Saturday 29 January 2022.

Giant puppet carried by a group of people outside in front of a mountain.
SEGAL TALKS: Basil Jones (South Africa)
Video

SEGAL TALKS: Basil Jones (South Africa)

A Conversation about The Walk.

Wednesday 17 November 2021
Virtual

The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented SEGAL TALKS, about curating, producing and presenting theatre and performance in the time of corona with Basil Jones (South Africa), livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network on Wednesday 17 November 2021 at 9 a.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 11 a.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 12 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5) / 17:00 GMT (London, UTC +0) / 18:00 CET (Berlin, UTC +1).

A large, titled puppet depiction of the American designer Robert Moses with two tiny brown-skinned puppets in front.
Puppets Are Immigrants Too
Essay

Puppets Are Immigrants Too

How New York City Turned Ancient Traditions into Cutting-Edge Art

24 August 2021

Jonathan Mandell shares his experience at New York City’s first-ever official Puppet Week.

black background with white text taylor talks above black and white portraits of artists.
Taylor Talks: HERE Resident Artists talk art & process with Taylor Mac
Video

Taylor Talks: HERE Resident Artists talk art & process with Taylor Mac

Episode 10: Maiko Kikuchi and Spencer Lott

Tuesday 1 June 2021
United States

HERE presented Taylor Talks: Episode 10 with Maiko Kikuchi and Spencer Lott livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Tuesday 1 June 2021 at 10 a.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 12 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 1 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

Puppet is standing behind a desk made to scale with tiny lamp and white phone. Newspaper clippings compose the backdrop.
Puppets in Space
Essay

Puppets in Space

Dramaturgical Thinking and the Mosaic Scale for Puppetry

9 April 2021

Emily LeQuesne discusses space as it relates to puppetry and shares a practical, five-step dramaturgy system for puppet theatre, which she developed, called the Mosaic Scale.

A picture of puppets on stage.
La Máquina Real / La Máquina Real
Essay

La Máquina Real / La Máquina Real

Reviving a Baroque Puppet Tradition / Recupera los títeres de una tradición perdida

8 April 2021

Emilio Williams sits down with Jesús Caballero to talk about the lost puppetry genre called la máquina real and Jesús’s company in Spain that works to reimagine this Baroque art form. / Emilio Williams entabla una conversación con Jesús Caballero sobre un género de teatro de títeres olvidado de nombre la máquina real y los esfuerzos de Jesús y su compañía en España por recuperar esta tradición barroca.

Image of two puppeteers on stage using puppets in front of a digital created forest backdrop.
Spaces of Puppetry in Lübeck
Essay

Spaces of Puppetry in Lübeck

7 April 2021

Antonia Napp, Sonja Riehn, Silke Technau, and Stephan Schlafke share learnings about running KOLK 17, a cultural institution in Lübeck, Germany that combines a puppetry theatre company and puppetry museum, and where the goal is to redefine exhibiting the art form.

protestors at the people's climate march
Puppets in Protest
Essay

Puppets in Protest

6 April 2021

Sarah Plummer discusses how puppets aid socially engaged groups during protests in three key ways: amplifying tension, creating accessible messaging, and evoking solidarity.

The view from backstage during a performance by the Dragoncillo Puppet Troupe, 2019
“We’re all mad here”
Essay

“We’re all mad here”

An Exploration of the Spaces of Puppetry

5 April 2021

Esther Fernández and Jason Yancey introduce their series, Where Puppets Move, sharing how the 2020 conference “Puppet Theatre: In the Beginning Were Puppets” at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre inspired their questions about reimagined performance spaces.

youtube screenshot
a farm for my mother, a farm for meme
Essay

a farm for my mother, a farm for meme

21 December 2020

Priscilla Solis Ybarra reflects on her experience watching Virginia Grise’s a farm for meme at home, during the pandemic, with her eighty-two-year-old mother whose life shares parallels with the story in the play.

two actors' shadows onstage
Art as a Force for Good
Essay

Art as a Force for Good

A Conversation with Malaysian Theatre Artist Sabera Shaik

17 November 2020

Jennifer Rodrigo sits down in conversation with Sabera Shaik, the artistic director of Malaysia’s Masakini Theatre Company, about the country’s fragmented arts community, shadow theatre, and more.

Arturo O’Farrill playing piano.
BronX BandA featuring Arturo O’Farrill
Video

BronX BandA featuring Arturo O’Farrill

Bronx based jazz ensemble collaborates with large scale puppet theater amplifying the sounds and stories of our community

Friday 12 June 2020
Bronx NY, USA

Livestreamed BronX BandA featuring Arturo O’Farrill on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 12 June 2020 at at 11 a.m. HST (Honolulu, UTC-10) / 1 p.m. AKDT (Juneau, UTC-8) / 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC-7) / 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC-5) / 5 p.m. EDT.

Daylight lighting. The puppeteer, dressed in black, is sitting on a short black cube on a grey stage in front of bookshelves. The puppet, with white body and light blue costume, is sitting on the puppeteers knee. The puppet head, bald and painted off-white, is blocking the puppeteers face. The puppet's right leg is separate from the rest of its body, connected to the right leg and toes of the puppeteer. There is a large space between the two puppet legs. The gesture of the right hand of the puppet is raised
Puppetry and Disability Aesthetics
Essay

Puppetry and Disability Aesthetics

4 May 2020

Marina Tsaplina examines the complexity of the word “disability,” how puppetry can push forward disability justice, and disability aesthetics, offering what she deems a “grammar of animacy” for artists working with disability.

an actor performing outdoors
The National Theater Project (NTP) Appalachia Regional Convening
Video

The National Theater Project (NTP) Appalachia Regional Convening

presented by New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and Carpetbag Theatre

Sunday 1 December 2019
Knoxville, Tennessee

New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and Carpetbag Theatre presented the National Theater Project (NTP) Appalachia Regional Convening livestreamed from Knoxville, Tenessee on the commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Sunday 1 December 2019.

an actress with a styrofoam cup
How Object Puppetry Confronts Climate Change
Essay

How Object Puppetry Confronts Climate Change

3 October 2019

Caroline Reck, artistic director of Glass Half Full Theatre in Austin, Texas, talks about how her company uses clown and object theatre to engage people in the battle against climate change.

colorful illustrations of folk tale characters with performance information
A performance of :HUMPTY
Video

A performance of :HUMPTY

at The VORTEX in Austin, Texas

Friday 27 September 2019
Austin, Texas

Ethos and The VORTEX presented a performance of :HUMPTY livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer-produced HowlRound TV network on Friday 27 September 2019 at 9 p.m. EDT (New York) / 8 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 6 p.m. PDT (Los Angeles).

two puppets
Creating a Feminist Punch and Judy Show
Essay

Creating a Feminist Punch and Judy Show

16 June 2019

Roxanna Myhrum looks at the history of the iconic puppet show Punch and Judy and Sarah Nolen’s feminist adaptation of it, Judy Save the Day.