2006 Grants


Carter Family Marionettes/Northwest Puppet Center (Seattle, WA)
The Tragedy of Tragedies: The Life & Death of Tom Thumb the Great is a lively fusion of puppets, Irish folk music and baroque opera. The marionette opera that took 18th century Dublin by surprise returns to the stage. In reviving this lost piece of puppet history, the Carter Family Marionettes draws from several rare manuscripts of the era to recreate this performance complete with hand-carved cast, live chamber orchestra and professional opera singers.

Thousand Years Waiting
by Crossing Jamaica Avenue
Image Design: Hap Tivey
Actor Photo: David Altman

Shadow Language
by The Gutherie Theatre

Punch's Progress
by Hotel Obligado

Gotama: The Journey of a Man
by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater
Photo by Bruce Silcox Photography

by Kevin Augustine
Photo courtesy of the artist

"That moment in the rehearsal mirror, when I get a glimpse of what will soon become an audience's exclusive view, and witness again that ephemeral magic as the puppet comes to life in my hands-blinking, turning it's head, breathing... I am viscerally transported and reminded, in spite of the sheer determination it takes to make a career out of this art form, why I am still proud and committed to being a puppeteer."
-Kevin Augustine,
Lone Wolf Tribe

Story of the Dog
by Sandglass Theater

"The greatest challenge and satisfaction in creating work is collaboration, and the most encompassing collaboration is one that crosses cultures. In our work with Sovanna Phum, we collaborated not only with an extraordinary group of artists, but with language, food, climate, rhythms, and theater forms that are very different from those we live and work in. The greatest compliment to this work was offered by my co-director, Mann Kosal, who says that our piece is not the work of two companies, but of individual artist from different cultures that had become one company."
-Eric Bass,
Sandglass Theater

The Fortune Teller
by Eric Sanko
Photo courtesy of the artist

The Christine Jorgensen Story
by Brian Selznick

"I am a children's book writer and illustrator, and in my books I love the challenge of finding new ways to tell stories. But I'm also a puppeteer, and puppetry allows me to tell stories in ways that I never could with my books. With puppetry, I can be much more abstract and non-linear, and I can allow my audience to go even further in making their own associations. My puppet shows are generally for adult audiences and they use tiny objects to tell big stories about things like dinosaurs and identity. But the magic of these tiny objects, I believe, is that in the end they allow the grown-up audiences to enter the story and experience it with the same intense connection that a child feels when playing with toys or reading a book."
-Brian Selznick

Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
Anne Frank: Within & Without is an original puppetry production employing tabletop and hand and rod puppetry, as well as marionettes, live music and projections. A work of artistic interpretation and imagination grounded in Anne Frank's diary and historical research, this production depicts Ms. Frank's life, from her childhood to her death, and also addresses her enduring legacy in a world where intolerance and inhumanity continue to rage.

Crossing Jamaica Avenue (New York, NY)
Thousand Years Waiting is a new play with three simultaneous realities: present-day New York City, Japan circa 1000, and inside The Tale of Genji--the world's first novel. Intricately weaving together the history of storytelling like a spider's web, a woman from present-day New York City steps in and out of real and fictional worlds from the past: Japan circa 1000 A.D. and The Tale of Genji, the world's first novel. This Trans-Pacific collaboration features Otome Bunraku Puppet Master Masaya Kiritake, one of only three women in the world who professionally perform this rare 17th century traditional Japanese art form.

Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
Shadow Language, a new off-beat and off-the-path serio-comedy by playwright Kelly Stuart, incorporates the ancient art of Turkish shadow puppetry to illuminate the question: what does it mean to be an American today? A Christian woman from Nashville journeys through Anatolia in search of someone who can translate a notebook given to her by a Kurdish man just before he was seized by Homeland Security in the days following 9-11. By the time June discovers the meaning of the notebook she's lost some illusions about America.

Hotel Obligado Physical Theater (Philadelphia, PA)
Punch's Progress, a work of light and dark comedy, traces the evolution and migration of the comedic archetype, Pulcinella, from his birth in the Italian comedy to his influence in current stand-up comedy. Punch's Progress examines our fascination, discomfort and delight of the grotesque and the burlesque in comedy and poses the questions: Why do we laugh at the cynical, sarcastic and profane, and what is Pulcinella's role in helping us identify these qualities in ourselves?

In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
Gotama: A Journey to the Buddha depicts the heroic journey of Siddhatta Gotama, the young prince who, in search of his own humanity, becomes the Buddha. Told through the eyes of Channa, the prince's bumbling but well-meaning charioteer, Gotama is a timeless tale of awakening to one's true purpose. This world premiere blends elements of traditional Asian and cutting-edge puppetry, physical theater, dynamic scenery, and live, original music.

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts (New York, NY)
Grendel, a newly commissioned project from renowned director Julie Taymor and composer Elliot Goldenthal, will make its New York premiere at the 10th Anniversary of the Lincoln Center Festival. Described as a darkly comic retelling of the Beowulf epic from the monster's point of view, this richly visual opera will portray a passionate thinker trapped in the body of a beast as he strives to transcend his condition and find meaning and purpose.

LOCO 7 (New York, NY)
Paranoia is a brief synopsis of universal history, the melting pot of New York City, dreams of the immigrants; stories of love and hate that begets passion which can sometimes lead to anxiety and paranoia. Puppetry and animated video will engage the audience and lead them through a story told incorporating puppets, dance, music and video.

Lone Wolf Tribe (Brooklyn, NY)
Bride is a multi-media, puppet theatre work written and performed by Kevin Augustine that blends history, sociology and the Frankensteins of Mary Shelly and James Whale, to explore the gender identity of God. The work is a probing study of how historical shifts in belief systems - from Goddess culture to patriarchal theology - have changed how we view women - from diety to maidservant of the Lord.

Puppet Arts Theatre (Jackson, MS)
The Golem is a multi-media presentation of the legend of Rabbi Loew of Prague and his creation from clay in 16th century. The legend of the Golem, a creature of clay given life by man, has held enormous appeal for Jewish mystics and writers from medieval times to the present. The show will be presented with shadow and three-dimentional rod puppets enhanced and blending with slide, overhead and pre-recorded animated video projections.

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT)
The Story of the Dog is an exciting collaboration between Sandglass Theater and Sovanna Phum of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The subject of the piece is the effect of war on private lives. Combining performers from both companies, the story integrates Sandglass' characteristic puppet style with traditional Cambodian shadow puppets, dance, and music.

Erik Sanko (New York, NY)
The Fortune Teller is an original marionette play in the classic Faustian morality style with a modern dark comedic twist. The puppets are all handmade specifically for this project and the set design is a collaboration with architect Selin Maner based on an 18th century Italian transformation puppet. The play is accompanied by an original musical score composed by Sanko himself.

Brian Selznick (New York, NY)
The Christine Jorgensen Story, a puppet piece involving toy theater, video and object-based theater, tells the tale of the internationally famous transexual whose transformation in 1952 was such a sensation that she was called "The most talked about girl in the world". With text by H.C. Anderson, Kate Bornstein and Christine Jorgensen, and music by Eighth Blackbird.

ShadowLight Productions (San Franacisco, CA)
Monkey at Spider Cave explores the intersection between traditional shadow theater and American theatrical and cinematic techniques. The project is inspired by one of the best- known and beloved myths in all of Asia: the story of bringing Buddhism to China, and will focus on the Monkey King, an animal disciple who went on the journey. This version will tell two of the legend's 600 chapters in a full-length production, with narration in Mandarin, with Cantonese and English super titles.

Blair Thomas & Company (Philadelphia, PA)
Amazing Grace tells the story of John Newton, the 18th Centruy slave ship captain who through a series of events became an abolitionist and wrote the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace". The production focuses on Newton's spiritual transformation from his involvement in the slave industry to becoming a pivotal figure in the evangelical reform movement. Amazing Grace is a production for young audiences employing bunraku-style puppets and live folk music.

Hanne Tierney
Leibniz Folly Folly is based on a discussion between the 17th century philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and his late life passion, the actress Alicia Poggel. Alicia's disagreement with Leibniz' metaphysical system of monadology, his belief in the perception of objects and the consciousness of matter, convinces the philosopher and his servant to built a theater not based on illusion but on the reality of matter. The piece then becomes the construction of this theater, an intense world of the inner life of the materials on the stage; their hierarchies, their jealousies and their eventual performance.

Christopher Williams (New York, 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. Elements from the elegant tale will translate into an evening-length choreographic work including dancers, puppets, and prosthetic costume. In a time of such heightened mistrust of people from the Middle East, this work intends to celebrate and deature the aspects of beauty, mysticism, and love innate to a greatly maligned culture.

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)


Dramaton Theater (Brooklyn, NY)
The Shadow interprets Hans Christian Andersen's short story of a "learned man" from the cold country who visits the hot country, where shadows are long and lean in blazing light. The young man's shadow leaves to explore the world, acquiring wealth and power by using its neighbor's secrets against them....and becoming human in the process. Years pass and the shadow, now a man of flesh and blood, returns to his former master with a devious plan to obtain the only think he lacks: a shadow of his own.

Lee Bryan - "That Puppet Guy" (Atlanta, GA)
Cirque du Suitcase seeks to deepen the understanding of the transformational power between puppet/puppeteer, and how it touches a live audience, through the old world feel and faded elegance of a long forgotten circus. Specially jointed animal figures, resplendent in faded and tattered circus costumes, perform death defying acts set to original music.

The Czechoslovak-American Marionette Theatre (New York, NY)
Once There Was a Village is an interdisciplinary performance with story/libretto by Vit Horejs adapted from a book by Yuri Kapralov, a Lower East Side artist, and other source materials about artists' lives in the turbulent, exlectic and constantly changing neighborhood of the Lower East Side, detailing the exquisitely fine lie trod by the immigrant artist in making a go of everyday life in one of the most contested neighborhoods in New York City.

Rob D'Arc (Seattle, WA)
Archy and Mehitabel, based on the Don Marquis characters created in Mr. Marquis' newspaper columns, is a puppetry showcase, as it would continually play with scale, the audience being a camera lens that can zoom in to see a large scale intellectual battle between a cockroach and a flea, down to Archy's level to see the city from it's underside.

Anna Kiraly (New York, NY)
Reading After the Quake is a combination fo two Murakami short story adaptations to create a full-length show. The technique is color shadow puppets (digital printouts mounted on plastic sheets) on rods behind screens with the introduction of live TV and video. The two beautifully mysterious stories show two aspects of the same theme: the effect of cataclysms on the heroes.

Tom Lee (Brooklyn, NY)
The Story of Kaluaikoolau tells the story of Koolav, a 19th Century Hawaiian who defied authority to live and die in dignity with his wife and child. It is also a story of Hawaii itself and the complexity beyond what we think and the complexity beyond what we think of as "paradise." The story will be told with Hawaiian images, sond, dance and a Kuruma Ningyo-style puppet.

Pandemonium Puppet Company (Bolton, CT)
Reflections is a joint ventrue production of Bart Roccoberton of Pandemonium Puppet Company and Hua Hua Zhang of Visual Expressions. The production is a nonverbal, multi-art performance including various types of puppetry. Reflections explores how we deal with the balance and harmony of nature inviting the audience for questions and discovery while reflecting on their own experiences and feelings.

Searls Puppetry (Baltimore, MD)
Objects in Motion (OM) is a dance concert with objects. In ten episodes, OM transfigures the ordinary with a collage of music ranging from Mozart to Jazz to Hip Hop. Exploring the unexpected, lyrical and humorous, OM puts four puppeteers trained in modern dance behind and amoung the animated objects to explode physical boundaries.

Lake Simons (Brooklyn, NY)
White Elephant is a new piece by Lake Simons and composer/lyricist John Dyer, marking their third collaboration melding puppetry and live music. White Elephant tells the story of an elephant who visits the inhabitants of a short stretch of land helping them to recall: ghosts, fantasies and human contact.

Strawberry Theatre Workshop (Seattle, WA)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey is a puppet theatre adaptation of Thornton Wilder's 1926 novel about a communal loss, and one man's search for meaning in the dignity of everyday life and everyday love. The story is an affirmation of humanity's interconnectedness that resonates in the memory of September 11 and is scheduled for public performance during the 5th anniversary of the WTC disaster. The production will tell the story as narrative theatre activated by bunraku puppets and actors who occupy opposite sides of Wilder's poetic ravine between life and death.

Tears of Joy Theatre (Vancouver, WA)
Carlo Collodi's Pinocchio uses a combination of puppets and live actors to tell the story of Pinocchio, a wooden boy who learns some very valuable life lessons regarding relationships to those who would take advantage of him and those who love him. Tears of Joy Theatre is creating this production under the direction of Luba Zarembinska, Artistic Director of Station Szamocin in Poland, by using puppet figures and masks based on innovative styles and influences from Eastern Europe.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lake Simons
Photo courtesy of the artist

"Making theatre using puppetry has melded my interests in the visual and the physical. I am excited about continuing these experiments combining puppetry, live music, and physical storytelling."
-Lake Simons

Brooklyn Academy of Music
Tall Horse by Handspring Puppet Company and the Sogolon Puppet Troupe of Mali $5,000

HERE Arts Center
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lake Simons $5,000
The Adventures of Charcoal Boy by Eric Novak and Sarah Provost $5,000

The New 42nd Street
Little Donkey $5,000 Macbeth $5,000

St. Ann's Warehouse
2006 Puppet Lab & Labapalooza $5,000

Theater for the New City
2006 Voice 4 Vision Festival $10,000