2005 Grants


Quetzalcoatl's Grandchildren
by Arm-of-the-Sea Theater
Photo by Sean Stewart

Sleepy Hollow
by Drama of Works
Photo courtesy of Drama of Works

Easter Island
by Magical Moonshine Theatre
Photo by Sean Stewart

Dark Earth
by Naked Puppets
Photo courtesy of Naked Puppets

Quick Silver
by Kira Obolensky
Photo courtesy of the artist

Experimental Ground
by The Octopus Ensemble
Photo courtesy of The Octopus Ensemble

The Adventures of Charcoal Boy
by Sarah Provost
Photo by Jordan Provost

Goldilocks, The Nursing Home Version
by San Diego Guild of Puppetry
Photo courtesy of San Diego Guild

La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco
by Basil Twist
Photo courtesy of Basil Twist

Arm-of-the-Sea Theater (New York, NY)
Quetzalcoatl's Grandchildren weaves together the mythic and the contemporary in a gritty tale about migrant farm workers from southern Mexico working the sweet corn harvest in upstate New York. Presented in Spanish and English, the show will feature a range of styles, from large rod puppets and puppets mounted on backpack frames to masked performers manipulating tabletop figures.

Drama of Works (Brooklyn, NY)
Sleepy Hollow is an exploration of large-scale shadow puppetry, creating mood, and storytelling. Visuals borrowed from the stylized traditions of silent horror movies, melodrama, and Victorian silhouette will join an original music score to create a piece based on the tale by Washington Irving and inspired by his sparse dialogue and lush imagery.

Janie Geiser (Los Angeles, CA)
Invisible Glass, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe's short story "William Wilson," explores the idea of the doppelganger, or spirit double made flesh. The piece will integrate a variety of puppetry forms, film and video projection, and live original music in a highly artificial set to suggest an atmospheric world of escalating tension, where appearances are deceiving and nothing is certain.

Brian Kooser (Seattle, WA)
Dracula: A Case Study begins after the events of Bram Stokers’ novel are over. A few of the main characters are committed to an asylum, undergoing a new type of therapy in which the patients make puppets and use them to tell their personal versions of the story. A problem arises when the stories vary greatly. Was Dracula innocent? Who was the real puppeteer?

Lunatique Fantastique (Oakland, CA)
Nutcracker Nutz and Boltz is a non-verbal found object version of the ETA Hoffmann traditional holiday tale, accompanied by an original adaptation of Tchaikovsky's musical score and interspersed with vignettes from Hoffmann's life. The pallet of objects will include a nightshirt, a mouse trap, an eye patch, automobile gears, rusted hammers, a dressmaker's mannequin, and old picture frames.

Magical Moonshine Theatre (Yountville, CA)
Easter Island is inspired by the current archaeological thought on the history and prehistory of Easter Island. The production will focus on the transformation of an island paradise filled with a multitude of species to a veritable waste land that would not even support its inhabitants, forcing them to turn to cannibalism, and the relevance of this cautionary tale to our modern culture.

Mettawee River Theater Company (New York, NY)
The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Bertolt Brecht's compelling play, unfolds with moments of panoramic action on a large canvas and then moves in to focus on individuals caught in the giant upheaval caused by warfare. Mettawee will adapt the work for a mixed age audience and outdoor settings, compressing the piece through mask work, puppetry and other visual storytelling solutions.

Naked Puppets (Olympia, WA)
Dark Earth is a mystically inspired performance that explores the Kabbalistic idea of failed worlds. What would happen if we attempted to redeem these failed worlds where peace seems impossible, fear pervasive, and true love unattainable? Naked Puppets delves into experimental puppetry, digital projections, animation, and original soundscapes to envision these mysterious worlds.

Kira Obolensky (Minneapolis, MN)
Quick Silver is an object theater piece with original music that addresses the themes of greed, love and death. The story takes place in a town beset by madness on the hottest day of the year: Depression-era Danbury, Connecticut, the hatmaking capital of the world. It is performed by three actor/puppeteers, nine puppets, and one piano player, all sharing the narrative voice.

The Octopus Ensemble (Brooklyn, NY)
Experimental Ground is a collection of six original, ensemble-based pieces inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1846 short story "Rappaccini's Daughter." Tabletop and shadow puppetry, installation design, mask and movement, and live electronic and instrumental music combine to describe the human cost of the clash between innovation and convention.

Sarah Provost (Brooklyn, NY)
The Adventures of Charcoal Boy is a fantastical musical theater piece in which organic and industrial objects are brought to life as puppets. The story follows a tree branch, struck by lightning, who wakes to an unfamiliar world. This charred stick begins his journey, yearning to be a tree again. When he learns to draw with his charred feet, his seeming predicament proves to be a useful talent.

San Diego Guild of Puppetry (Chula Vista, CA)
Goldilocks, The Nursing Home Version depicts a tiny Alzheimers' afflicted 90 year old lost in "The Woods," a nursing home with the charm of a wolf's lair. Her wanderings lead her to the territory of "The Three Bahrs" where she eats their food, pockets their false teeth, and settles into one of their empty beds. But was it Goldi who robbed the Bahrs of their dignity or someone far more sinister?

Skysaver Productions (New York, NY)
Iphigenia, based on the play by Euripides, features various styles of puppetry, including small Bunraku-style rod puppets, large-scale cloth figures with projections, and shadow puppetry. Agamemnon, a king and the general of the Greek troops, has agreed to sacrifice his young daughter to the goddess Artemis in order to secure a wind that will bring thousands of troops to Troy.

Amy Trompetter (New York, NY)
The Queen of Spades is based on Pushkin's acclaimed short story about gambling, obsession, and madness. The collaboration includes choreographer David Neumann, music director of Absolute Ensemble Kristjan Jarvi, and production designer Manuel Lutgenhorst, with puppets with crudely wrinkled skin and elegantly refined costumes illuminating the story.

Basil Twist (New York, NY)
La Bella Dormente Nel Bosco is a new staging of the 1922 puppet opera by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. Twist will use string puppet manipulation in innovative ways, with a cast of over 200 puppets, ranging from tiny spiders to larger than life size marionettes. The production will include The Spoleto Festival Orchestra, The Westminster Choir, seven soloists, and twelve puppeteers.

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)

Ode to Walt Whitman
by Bart Buch
Photo by Aaron Rubenstein

Bart Buch (Minneapolis, MN)
Ode to Walt Whitman is a puppetry performance that uncovers a dialogue between Whitman's Calamus poems and Federico Garcia Lorca's “Ode to Walt Whitman.” This conversation employs mute hand puppets, a butterfly marionette, a backlit cranky-scroll, toy theater, shadow images, a projected online chat room, and live music played on a toy piano.

Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
Anne Frank: Within & Without is far from a re-telling of Anne Frank's diary. This project will be a work of interpretation and imagination grounded in historical research, including the diary. Bobby Box will draw on puppetry's ability to use unique visual and kinetic effects, scale, and multi-layered symbolism and representation to challenge audience members to hear Frank's story as never before.

Chinese Theatre Works (Long Island City, NY)
Book of Songs will merge contemporary and traditional puppetry forms, classical Kun and Peking opera, and live musical accompaniment to introduce audiences to selections from over 3000 years of Chinese poetic literature. The texts will be drawn from a wide range of sources including selections from the ancient Book of Songs, works from the Tang Dynasty, and modern Chinese poetry.

Ice Cream for Diablo
by Oliver Dalzell
Photo courtesy of Oliver Dalzell

Oliver Dalzell (Astoria, NY)
Ice Cream for Diablo will be puppetry for puppetry's sake rather than a traditional narrative story with a plot. The visual story will be about movement, light, and composition. The entire piece will be set to contemporary electronic music. Bunraku, rod, shadow and other unconventional manipulation and presentation methods will all be applied in this one show.

Great Small Works (New York, NY)
Orlando Furioso is new production inspired by the traditional Sicilian marionette epic "Orlando Furioso." Using a classic rod puppet stage and puppets, together with live actors dressed in exaggerated costumes and make-up, Great Small Works will investigate 19th century spectacle, 20th century drag characters, and the political precipice on which we find our 21st century selves.

Michael Kelly (Jackson Heights, NY)
Traveling at the Speed of Light explores the life and work of Albert Einstein through puppetry. The first superstar of science, Einstein solved problems and led a revolution in science using simple visual images and stories. The production will present these ideas and the current quest for a "Theory of Everything" as a theatrical event.


Lone Wolf Tribe (Brooklyn, NY)
Bride, loosely based on the 1936 film “The Bride of Frankenstein,” is the second installment in a performance cycle focused on the myriad elements of creation. Seven puppeteers will employ Japanese and Czech puppetry traditions to animate five main character, life sized foam rubber puppets, examining what it means to be a woman created by a man.

Alissa Mello (Jackson Heights, NY)
The Nose is an adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's 1836 classic short story for puppets and film. All characters in the piece will be portrayed by puppets with an emphasis on Bunraku, and hand and rod puppets. The production will juxtapose design and place, incorporating both 1836 and contemporary elements and will use both live action and film.

Douglas N. Paasch (Seattle, WA)
Infinite Noir features characters suggested by props and costumes, rather than "traditional" puppets with heads and bodies. This dialogue-free piece was inspired by film noir story lines, mixed with a dash of "The Twilight Zone." Six puppeteers will bring characters such as The Private Eye and The Femme Fatale to life through creative object manipulation and modified Bunraku technique.

Paul Mesner Puppets (Kansas City, MO)
Songs of Mayhem is a production for mature audiences based on a series of songs with themes of mayhem, humor, irony, drug abuse, war, death, sex, magic and satire. With live musical accompaniment and shadow, rod, and hand puppets, Mesner will tell the stories of songs ranging from old cowboy ballads and sea shanties to works by Nina Simone and Randy Newman.

Theatre Figuren (Buffalo, NY)
Underground, Over the Moon will utilize puppetry (bunraku, rod & hand), mask, mime and an original sound score. The story is inspired by history, story, and real life heroes of the Underground Railroad. Party history and part dream-tale, the work celebrates the impact individuals can have when they take a stand for what they believe is right.

Thistle Theatre (Seattle, WA)
Frog Lake is a contemporary puppet ballet based on the classic ballet “Swan Lake”. Performed with Bunraku and rod puppets, Tchaikovsky's music will be brought to life with frogs, creatures that mythologically symbolize hidden beauty. This transformation will at first appear hilarious but then metamorphosize into a touching story of love and betrayal transcending physical beauty.

Tricinium Limited (Keene, NH)
Aging, by Nikki Tilroe and Larry Siegel, is a work evoking and celebrating the human experience of growing old through a combination of Czechoslovakian hand and rod puppetry, Decroux mime technique, and classical Japanese dance. In addition to mining literature, poetry, and theater for inspiration, the piece will be developed through interviews with aging relatives, friends, and teachers.

Foocy Djanni
by Ugly Stepsister
Photo by Dave Jadico

Ugly Stepsister (Philadelphia, PA)
Foocy Djanni is an original tale of an odious immortal witch and her monstrous golem who terrorize the innocent townsfolk of the Russian peasant village of Vrinsk. A work of dark humor evocative of the stories of the Brothers Grimm, it features gypsy music, mechanical sculpture, pop-up settings with masks, and puppets of various scale and style.

Christopher Williams (Brooklyn, NY)
The Tale of Layla and Manjun is inspired by a poem written by the 12th century mystic Persian poet Mizami which remains one of the best-known allegorical love stories in all of the Islamic Orient. The work will include two principal dancers accompanied by a chorus of nine dancer/puppeteers, incorporating elements of mask and prosthetic costume as well as animating a whole menagerie of wild puppet beasts.


Cathay: Three Tales of China
by Ping Chong & Company
Photo by Chris Bennion

Great Small Works
Seventh Annual Toy Theater Festival & Temporary Toy Museum

The New Victory Theater
Cathay: Three Tales from China by Ping Chong & Company
The Mouse Queen by Little Angel Theatre

Theater for the New City
The Lone Runner: The Mythical Life and Journey of Nikola Tesla by Jane Catherine Shaw
Project B - 3 Works by Nancy Solomon Miranda, Sarah Provost and Jane Stein
The Bacon/Mingus Triptych by Eric Novak
Loners by Preston Foerder