2003 Grants


Lee Bryan - That Puppet Guy (Atlanta, GA)
Pinocchio is a family theater piece which uses found objects, shadow puppets, and Commedia-style mask work to explore an old peddler's story of a woodcarver's wish for a real live boy. Twists within the script explore the parameters between authority and rebellion while blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. ($3,000)

by Center for Puppetry Arts
Photo by David Zeiger

Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
Dinosaurs is an educational show for children that recounts the development and decline of the dinosaurs from the point of view of a dissatisfied young songbird. Through black light, black Czech, shadow, and other puppetry techniques, the appearance, characteristic behavior, nutritional needs, and adaptive capabilities of these prehistoric giants will be explored. ($4,000)

Chinese Theatre Works (New York, NY)
Journey to the West is a bilingual production that blends traditional Chinese opera and shadow theater with Western styles of puppetry and performance. Based on the 16th century Chinese epic novel, it tells the story of the Monkey King who accompanies a Buddhist monk on a journey across China through a demon-infested landscape in search of a collection of sacred scriptures. ($3,000)

The Cosmic Bicycle Theatre (New York, NY)
The Crazy Locomotive, the 1923 avant garde classic by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewitz, is a scathing commentary on the Futurist movement, envisioning the chaos and destruction wrought by the embrace of human automatism and technological society. Puppets, actors, automata sculptures, and projected cinematic imagery combine in this interpretation of Witkiewitz's "theater of pure form". ($5,000)

Figures of Speech Theatre (Freeport, ME)
Everest: The Human Face is a piece combining actor/storytellers, shadow puppets, projected imagery, Bunraku-style puppets and original music. Based on the first ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Tibetan-born Sherpa Tenzing Norgay and New Zealander Edmund Hillary, the play explores the relationship between the two men and their distinctly different relationships to the mountain. ($4,000)

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
Queen Nanny, Queen Nanny! tells the inspiring story of an 18th century Jamaican woman who fought for the preservation of her people and culture as the leader of a group of revolutionary former slaves. Intended for youth and adult audiences, the piece employs puppet theater, dance, music, and visual art to convey the colors and sounds of Jamaica. ($3,000)

Lone Wolf Tribe (New York, NY)
Animal is a dark, ultimately redeeming tale told through puppetry, masks, movement, and silence. It is an exploration of ancient practices of traditional healing represented through shamanism, in contrast to the billion dollar industries of regulated health care. The two worlds intersect when a shaman's spirit animal is incarcerated in a research laboratory to help find a cure for mental illness. ($5,000)

Lunatique Fantastique (Oakland, CA)
Executive Order 9066 is a found-object puppet performance focusing on the internment of the West Coast ethnic Japanese population after the December 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Six puppeteers manipulate a "cast" of rice paper, a tea set, sand, an American flag, and other objects to explore such issues as racism, patriotism, fear, violence, incarceration, and national hysteria. ($4,000)

The Paul Mesner Puppets(Kansas City, MO)
Chupacabra, which means "goat sucker" in Spanish, is based on real news events reported from roughly 1988 to 1997, when animals across Mexico were found with the blood drained from their bodies. The piece, performed in both English and Spanish, examines our basic desire to make sense of the mysterious and threatening, using actors, rod puppets, large inflatable figures. ($4,000)

I Demand to Know
by Wendy Morton
Photo by Wendy Morton

Wendy Morton (Pt. Richmond, CA)
I Demand to Know is the story of a woman who questions her own beliefs in a struggle between loyalty and truth after a relative is convicted of rape. Based on a short story by Dan Choan, the piece utilizes large-scale projected shadow puppets, in conjunction with collaged images of American iconography and graphics from New York Times cartoonist Peter Kuper. ($5,000)

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT)
The Child Behind the Mirror, inspired by the tale of Noah's Ark, depicts the ark as a child's bed, and the destructive flood as a war outside the child's window. The room is a place of safety, but refugees spill through the window seeking safe haven. In the end, the child's integrity is called upon to defeat the one who claims the bed for itself. The child is performed by an actor, the refugees by puppets. ($5,000)

ShadowLight Productions (San Francisco, CA)
In Search of Karagoz continues ShadowLight's tradition of updating stock characters by exploring American storytelling archetypes that form our cultural subconscious, such as vaudeville, cartoons, and television. Mentored by shadowmaster Larry Reed, Greek artist Leonidas Kassapides will create a karagoz language for today's audiences, mixing live Greek music, actors, and projected shadow. ($5,000)

Skysaver Productions (New York, NY)
Helen is a site-specific adaptation of the legend of Helen of Troy and her role in the Trojan War. Set in the various spaces of a large theater, the piece moves the audience to different locations as they move through the story. It utilizes a wide range of techniques, including elaborate shadow screens, moving video projections, inflatable figures, and object theater. ($5,000)

by Skysaver Productions
Photo by Richard Termine

Tears of Joy Theatre (Vancouver, WA)
The Day of the Dead uses a various puppet styles to create a festival atmosphere similar to what one might encounter on the Mexican Day of the Dead. Traditional rod puppets are a part of the day's entertainment, but with altars come to life, and the spirits of the dead roaming unobserved, the audience experiences a strange mixture of realities. ($3,000)

Blair Thomas & Company (Chicago, IL)
The Ox-herder Tale is based on the traditional Zen teaching tool of ten paintings with accompanying verses that depict a journey of enlightenment, performed with masks, human-size puppets, banners, shadows, and projections. The traditional narrative, told in the paintings and verses that appear on the banners flanking the stage, will be illuminated by a contemporary adaptation of the story. ($5,000)

Hanne Tierney (New York, NY)
Man, the Flower of all Flesh, based on a story by E.M. Forster, tells of an underground world tyrannized by The Machine, a totalitarian communal brain. An architectural environment of sound, light, and abstract human elements is manipulated, in full view of the audience, through a counterweight stringing system of approximately 100 strings by Tierney and an assistant. ($5,000)

Top Shows (New York, NY)
Madison's Descent is a multi-disciplinary piece featuring puppetry, live performers, and musicians, adapted from Page Allen's story of a baby's journey from the cosmos towards her birth while traveling down the Great River of Stars. Michael Curry's puppetry design incorporates marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku, and large soft sculpture to depict Madison at various stages of her travels. ($5,000)

Virgo Genitrix
by Christopher Williams
Photo by Matthew Acheson

Christopher Williams (New York, NY)
Virgo Genitrix is a work for nine dancers: three women and six small, highly articulated Bunraku-style puppets. It is set to 14th century music and investigates the medieval Christian phenomena of desert asceticism, mortification of the flesh, holy fasting, sexual abstinence, virginity, and daemonlogy from a feminine perspective. ($3,000)

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)

3 Legged Race (Minneapolis, MN)
Quicksilver is an object theater piece that incorporates music and animations to tell the story of mercury madness among hatters in Danbury, Connecticut during the Great Depression. The project is a collaboration between writer and animator Kira Obolensky, director and movement-theater artist Kari Margolis, and visual artists Irve Dell and Brad Kaspari (Theater of Machines).

Carlo Adinolfi (Tarrytown, NY)
L'Ornitotero (The Bird Machine) is an allegorical play inspired by Ray Bradbury's short story The Flying Machine and the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci. Using choreography and a wide range of animated objects and puppets, the work examines the potential beauty and horror inherent in technology and the choices we make as a result.

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (Chicago, IL)
Dreams from an Upside Down Man is a family piece conceived and written by puppeteer Michael Montenegro. Using a variety of puppetry techniques, Montenegro presents a series of surreal and dream-like vignettes featuring a man with seven heads, an enormous baby waiting to be born, two weary artists facing annihilation, and a statue that swallows everything in its path.

The Savage Nursery
by Erin Orr
Photo by Katherin Grecco

"The Jim Henson Foundation has supported my work as an artist on many levels. I live and work in New York City where the Foundation produced a bi-annual international puppet festival. Attending performances at this festival inspired me to work with puppets. These festivals really created an audience for innovative adult puppetry and provided that audience with a wide context about the traditions and possibilities inherent to the art form."
-Erin K. Orr

Bari Gongju
by Mother Puppet Theater
Photo by Kim Hyun Joong

The Bacon/Mingus Triptych
by Eric Novak
Photo by Richard Termine

Erin Eagar (New York, NY)
The Savage Nursery is a mysterious fairy tale of a bird woman raising her young fledglings, her lone defiant brattling, and the pack of feral children who collect at the foot of her nursery. It is the story of how identity is shaped and revealed by hunger, cruelty, and resilience in the face of lost love. Told with music and sounds instead of text, the piece uses rod, hand, shadow, and bunraku style puppets.

Scott Hitz (New York, NY)
Ursa Major: The Voice of the Bear uses stories about bears and humans from around the world to help us better understand ourselves, the environment around us, and our role within it. The tales are from China, Russia, Greece, Scandinavia, and Native America, and each story is told through styles of puppetry and music that reflect the region from which it is drawn.

LOCO 7 (New York, NY)
Yurupari, anepic ballet and life size puppet creation, is a combination of puppetry, dance, acrobatics and video framed in the world of the indigenous Ticunas tribe of artist Federico Restrepo's native Colombia. Set in the jungles of the Amazon, the piece recounts the Yurupari rite through which a young man embarks on a spiritual and physical journey to become an adult.

Mother Puppet Theater (Los Angeles, CA)
Bari Gongju,created by dollmaker Eum Jeoung Ae, director/puppeteer Andrew Kim, and puppeteer Beth Peterson, tells the ancient Korean story of Princess Bari who, though abandoned as a child, travels to the land of the dead to find the water of life for her dying parents. The work features puppets and masks of many sizes and forms and a live ensemble of traditional Korean musicians.

Eric Novak (New York, NY)
The Bacon/Mingus Triptych is a full length piece composed of three vignettes inspired by the paintings of Francis Bacon and the music of Charles Mingus. Both artists addressed issues of isolation and art, and violence in society, sex, and biology. These themes are expressed in the piece through music and movement, utilizing shadow puppetry and a modified Bunraku style.

Pamella O'Connor (Asheville, NC)
The Anatomy of Melancholy is based on Robert Burton's 1621 compendium of all things melancholy, along with their causes, symptoms, and cures. Using passages from the anthology as an introduction, the piece explores contemporary and universal instances of the emotion. Puppeteer/actors interact with puppets and objects of various styles and scales on an abstract and constantly changing set.

Other Hand Productions (Portland, OR)
On the Seashore recounts the remarkable life of Mary Anning, a working class woman in Victorian England whose collection of fossils made her a leading figure in the emerging field of paleontology. The world of fossils appears through shadow with rear-screen projection and moving light sources, and full-figured table-top style puppets represent Mary Anning, her dog, and other characters.

Saw Theater (Cincinnati, OH)
Patient depicts the evolving relationship between a Caretaker, played by a live actor, and his Patient, a puppet. Dressed in nurse uniforms and working mainly in Bunraku-style, the puppeteers become part of the world of the play. Created in collaboration with writer Elizabeth Logan Harris, the work tells a complex story of dependence, obsession, and self-discovery.

Ed Woodham (New York, NY)
Useful Tables is a surreal, multi-media piece for five puppeteers that explores different uses of the word "table" through a series of vignettes. It is an examination of the nature of contemporary ridiculousness utilizing various puppetry styles: marionette, rod, hand, and shadow as well as dance, film, slides, sound, music, and video.

2002 Grant Review Board: Cheryl Henson, Jane Henson, Allelu Kurten, Louis Borodinsky, Leslee Asch, Heather Henson, Mark Levenson, Marty Robinson, Nancy Staub, Richard Termine, Caroly Wilcox