2009 Grants


Billy Burns (Brooklyn, NY)
Hobo No-no takes place during the Great Depression and follows a road-scarred tramp and his uneasy protege on their picaresque adventures that crisscross the country. It is a work of traditionally staged marionette theater employing a number of elaborate set changes and special effects, rhyming dialogue and original music.

Hobo No-no
by Billy Burns
Photo by Richard Termine

Don Quixote
by Center for Puppetry Arts
Photo by Bill Jones

Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
Don Quixote is a new bilingual work of puppet theater for teen and adult audiences being adapted and directed by Bobby Box, the Center's Associate Producer, in collaboration with Manuel Moran of Teatro SEA. Adapted from Miguel de Cervantes' classic work of Spanish literature, Don Quixote will utilize Sicilian-style rod marioinette puppetry and shadow effects as well as a cast of four bilingual puppeteers and a live guitarist, music reminiscent of traditional Spanish melodies, and bilingual dialogue to bring to the puppetry stage this beloved story of a would-be knight whose fantasies clash with the world's realities.

The Cosmic Bicycle Theatre (New York, NY)
Edward Lear's Absurd-Ditties is a full-scale Puppet-Operetta, featuring Lear's Fantastical Poesm set to an original score for Accordion, Strings and Percussion. Set in a Victorian drawing room with a large Toy Theatre at center, a Family of Parlour Performers brings these works to life using Toy Theatre, Household Objects, Marionettes, and Magick Lantern Projections.

Mabou Mines (New York, NY)
Summa Dramatica and Porco Morto - Lee Breuer's 2 satiric, nonlinear one-act plays combine to provide an epilogue to his 2002 pataphysical opus 'Ecco Porco'. Summa Dramatica - a spiritual acting lesson, and Porco Morto - a memorial service for Gonzo Porco PhD, an avant-garde pig. Delivered as a lecture/postscript to William James' 'Varieties of Religious Experience', Summa sends up and up and up into the ionosphere -'Acting-in-Itself'. A post-obit Porco comes back to life via a bunraku puppet.

Madcap Puppet Theatre (Cincinnati, OH)
Master Pedro's Puppet Show is a chamber opera for puppets by Manuel de Falla. Broad in its style, dimensions and ambitions, this thirty minute chamber opera, written in 1922, is based on an episode in Cervantes' epic novel, Don Quixote. Madcap is collaborating with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Mischa Santora.

Mapp International Productions (New York, NY)
Everyday Uses for Sight No. 6: Disfarmer is a puppet theater work created by Dan Hurlin, Sally Oswald and Dan Moses Schreier. It is inspired by the life of portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, who brilliantly recorded small town America in the '30s and '40s. Disfarmer lived a hermit's existence, yet took thousands of beautiful, compassionate portraits of the people he so despised. Drawing from the American table-top puppetry tradition, five puppeteers use the extraordinarily detailed world created by Dan Hurlin to tell the poignant story of one unuasual and unrecognized artist's struggle to keep up with the changing world around him.

Man of Steel
by Frank Maugeri

Photo by Sean Williams


Alonzos Lullaby
by Nana Projects
photo courtesy of artist
Frank Maugeri (Forest Park, IL)
Man of Steelwill continue my deep exploration of innovative puppet theater by bringing the elements of toy theater, mechanical devices, poetic story, live song, and original music together into a new unique work of puppet theater. Man of Steel is geared for all audiences and explores the narrative of the fantastic life and mysterious death of television's first Superman, George Reeves. The original poetic telling visually constructs George's grand rise to fame, his immersion into his superhero character, and his tragic fall as the world's first and greatest known live-action super legend.

Nana Projects (Baltimore, MD)
Alonzo's Lullaby, an original overhead projector shadow puppet performance, inspired by the true story of the hard working train conductor Alonzo Sergeant and the performers of Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. Bold graceful silhouettes bring to life dreamlike intrigue as our characters lives collide in the Indiana cornfields in the waning days of WWI. The productions blends vintage LCD video and low tech shadow tricks seamlessly with a score by singer/songwriter ellen cherry (Kristin Putchinski).

Opera House Arts (Brooksville, ME)
Quarryography II: Habitat builds on the success fo Quarryography I as a choreographed puppet drama specifically created for and staged at the scale of this amphitheater overlooking Deer Isle Thorofare and islands, including Cableman; the Warrior Porcupine; Large and Small Spruce Tree; Granite Blocks; and The House, all of who represent the diverse and often warring sectors of the local island community as they lay claim to the highly desirable landscape of coastal Maine.

Rogue Artists Ensemble (Los Angeles, CA)
Gogol Project is based on three short stories by 19th century Russian literary figure Nicolai V. Gogol: The Nose, Diary of a Madman and The Overcoat. It is through the re-examining of these three tales that the Rogues will expose the hypocrisy and oppression of modern class disparity. The absurdity will be brought to life in Hyper-theatrical fashion, through the combining of puppetry elements, masks and digital projection, vaulting audiences completely into the world of Gogol's stories. Gogol Project is adapted for the stage by Kitty Felde with music by Ego Plum.

Ghosts of the River
by ShadowLight Productions
photo courtesy of artist
ShadowLight Productions (San Francisco, CA)
Ghosts of the Riveris a multidisciplinary shadow theatre work created in collaboration with Larry Reed, Octavio Solis, Favianna Rodriguez and I Made Moja, exploring the contentious immigration and the US/Mexico border issues. The work is inspired by Octavio's personal experience growing up in El Paso, Texas, and his recent extensive interviews with residents, immigrants, their families, law enforcement officers and immigration lawyers in the city. In 6 short Twilight Zone like vignettes, Ghosts will bring shadowy figures and memories of Octavio's past to life on the shadow screen.

Susan Simpson (Los Angeles, CA)
Exhibit A will interlock the stories of three obsessive collectors who have struggled to gather and protect memory amidst a storm of forgetting in Los Angeles. Three puppet plays, presented episodically at The Manual Archives in Los Angeles will be accompanied by an exhibition of maps, timelines, and dioramas charting the origins of the collected objects. Together these elements will examine the compulsion to collect, the intricacies of personal systems of categorization, and the burden of being a self-appointed custodian of collective memory.

Skysaver Productions (New York, NY)
The Travelling Players Present the Women of Troy is based on the merging of two sources: the text by Euripides, and the words of incarcerated women on New York's Riker's Island, developed in performance workshops at the prison. The play features a group of contemporary puppeteers, who recreate events from the fall of Troy in shadow theater and video projection. In between shadow scenes, a series of 3/4 life-size, realistic rod puppets emerge from behind the screen and each one, operated by a single puppeteer, begins a monologue from an adaptation of Eruipides' The Women of Troy.

Underground Railway Theater (Arlington, MA)
Galileo 2009 Project newly-interprets Brecht's master work as a uniquely-styled production combing actors and puppetry. Audiences will feel invited to connect the historical moment of the play with their own, to reflect on how scientific discovery shifts paradigms and profoundly impacts our lives. Diverse puppetry techniques will respond to both the content and aesthetics of 'Galileo.'

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)

Matthew Acheson (Brooklyn, NY)
Dirt Project is a puppet theatre work whose central set piece is a large pile of dirt. Using figurative puppets, objects and outdated technologies like phonographs and 16mm film projectors, Dirt Project creates theatrical compositions that speak to buried histories, life cycles, secrets, and civilations.

Michael Bodel (Brooklyn, NY)
Sonnambula presents an amalgam of puppetry, contraptions and choreography that delves into the eventual reduction of everything to nothing. The work originates with the arias from Bellini's mysterious opera following a soprano's voice through the nebulous world that seperates human from object, living from lifeless.

My Dear Lewis
by Kyle Loven
Photo by Lucas Saugen

Do Elephants Dream of Eclectic Sheep?
by Amanda Maddock
Photo by James Chai

Don Cristobal, Billy-Club Man
by Erin K. Orr
Photo by Chris Green

The Struggle for Justice
by Red String Wayang Theatre
photo courtesy of artist

Jean Marie Keevins (Astoria, NY)
The Adventures of Liverwurst Girl follows 8-year-old Louisa May Kelly through an average day and get to know her liver-sausage-loving, crime fighting, dream making alter-ego Liverwurst Girl. This czech marionette show has been invited to be workshopped at the Fusebox Festival in Austin, TX in 2009. Our heroine will save the world one liverwurst at a time.

Kyle Loven (Seattle, WA)
My Dear Lewis is an evening-length triptych, serving as a living document of one man and his forgotten memories. Intimate in scale, this one-man show incorporates Czech, shadow and hand puppets.

Amanda Maddock (Brooklyn, NY)
Do Elephants Dream of Eclectic Sheep? wanders inside the head and bedroom of a giant sleeping elephant, who perhaps controls the world. The worlds of the large and small, waking and dreaming appear and vanish as the elephant lies in bed one night. Tabletop puppetry, object manipulation, hand and rod puppets, music, and the head of a large elephant bring this collage of puppet scenes together.

Erin K. Orr (Brooklyn, NY)
Don Cristobal, Billy-Club Man is a new puppet opera exploring the violent appetite and poetic possibilities of the Spanish Punch as he existed in the plays Federico Garcia Lorca and as he is imagined offstage. In these plays Lorca expresses his uniquely view that Don Cristobal has a life offstage, in which his traditionally violent role gives way to his essential goodness. A cast of thirteen people will play multiple roles as puppeteers, actors, musicians and singers. The puppeteers will manipulate figurative hand and Bun Raku style puppets, as well as shadows, objects and scenic elements.

Red String Wayang Theatre (Gulfport, MS)
The Struggle for Justice is an original shadow puppet play based on historical events connected to Mississippi's Civil Rights era. The story celebrates the courage of people of all races who responded to violence and discrimination with non violent political action. Loosely inspired by the Javanese shadow theatre, Red String Wayang Theatre's new production mixes American southern culture with traditions of shadow puppetry from several Asian sources.

Joseph Silovsky (Brooklyn, NY)
Send for the Million Men is a combination performance and gallery exhibition about Sacco and Vanzetti, two Anarchists executed in Massachusetts in 1927. The performance will combine robotics, video, puppetry and mechanical devices to tell their story. The Gallery exhibition will resemble a science museum, with coin operated mechanical dioramas of significant moments in Sacco and Vanzetti's lives and the political environment of the time.

Luis Tentindo (Brooklyn, NY)
La Escalera tells the story of a lonesome book restorer working after the catastrophic flood which occurred in Florence, Italy in 1966. Something magical happens to him while he is busy with his tasks. The piece uses puppets (bunraku-style and 2 dimensional forms), multi-functional sculptures/sets that use pulleys, ropes, and levers, and performers with masks. La Escalera is accompanied by an original sound score by Valerie Opielski.

The Jungle
by Trouble Puppet Theater Company
photo courtesy of artist

O the Sky!
by Eric Van Wyk
photo courtesy of artist

Trouble Puppet Theater Company (Austin, TX)
The Jungle, is an adaptation of Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel about the effects of industrialization on immigrant laborers in the slaughterhouses and factories of Chicago. Based on a piece conceived at the 2007 O'Neill Puppetry Conference, it uses tabletop and shadow puppetry, live actors and masks. Live actors inhabit a slaughterhouse set which the human workers manipulate to become the streets and buildings of a world ordinarily hidden from the public view: an environment full of continually moving gears, levers, pumps and presses, with three- and two-dimensional puppets literally integrated into the mechanisms, erasing the distinction between worker and tool, and between the animals and workers as they are consumed by the machinery which defines their lives.

Eric Van Wyk (Ireton, IA)
O the Sky! is a shadow puppet play that immerses the viewer into the vastness and motion of the Midwest sky. Shadow clouds of colored plastic and silk combine with poetic objects of the plains to form a dreamscape that 4 isolated characters in a car move through as a series of interludes discovering past and present. The characters and the sky they live in interchange being shadow puppets and live actors.

Karen Zasloff (Brooklyn, NY)
Dimensions of Kigali traces the experiences of Rwandan survivors in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, and current tensions between reconciliation and the pursuit of justice. Combining shadow puppetry, papier-mache, dance and video, the performance explores how a traumatic history, revealed through testimony, impacts survivors, their immediate listeners and the larger society.


Blair Thomas & Company (Chicago, IL)
Moby-Dick is a full stage adaptation of the novel Moby-Dick, based on an original song score by Michael Smith, staged with doll size bunraku style puppets by a cast of 6 puppeteers and 4 musicians for a theatrical run at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

Circus Minimus Puppetry (Minneapolis, MN)
Gnip Gnopera - After an errant backhand sends an ordinary ping pong ball careening through the dusty reaches of the basement, the tiny sphere rolls up to a crack between faded velvet curtains. Hear the strains of an off-key orchestra tuning up? Sniff the aroma of high-art patrons taking their seats? Just as the ball gets its bearings, the curtains rise and the Gnip Gnopera begins. Wagnerian Vikings and Gilbert & Sullivan pirates collide with love struck bullfighters in this glow-in-the-dark tale of an unsuspecting understudy's triumphant debut. Drawing from beloved classical treasures, we will create a gibberish acapella score that follows our hero's ascent. Faux hydraulics, dizzying shifts in perspectives and revolving sets will spin the action from on stage to behind in this play within a play. Underneath the over-the-top costumes will be a simple story of a lowly rec-room toy soaring to new heights of passion.

Hamumu Theatre Collective (Indianola, WA)
Echo features carved wooden masks, regalia and puppets, fully sculpted sets, traditional music and dance coupled with theatrical lighting, sounc and a scripted adaptation of the legend of the mythical character Echo. Working together with noted carver and puppeteer, Craig Jacobrown, George Taylor and his Lelala Dance troupe will produce and tour a theatrical version of the Echo story using masks, headdress puppets and shadow puppets.

Dallas Children's Theater (Dallas, TX)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a simple story with complicated demands. Creating the world of Peter Rabbit on stage involves three forms of puppetry; black theater rod puppets, marionettes and hand and body puppets. Two extensive processes that must be considered is construction of the puppets themselves and the composition of original songs and instrumental numbers. Our goal is to create the essence of the characters with all their emotions, through the art of puppetry and musical theater.

Who Speaks for Wolf
by Strings & Things
Photo by Joyce Hutter
Strings & Things (San Pedro, CA)
Who Speaks for Wolfis based on Native American stories that have been passed down orally for centuries by the Oneida People and the writings of Native American author Paula Underwood. Our story follows a young city girl and her Native American father as he teaches her important life lessons in the same way their ancestors had taught their children for generations.

Teatro Sea (New York, NY)
Viva Pinocho! A Mexican Pinocchio is a re-telling of the classic folktale Pinocchio from the perspective of a young Mexican immigrant (Nacho); following the puppet boy's journey to understanding his sense of self, while struggling to maintain his Latino heritage and find his home in a new land (the United States.) This production is a one-man puppet show; written and performed by puppeteer Manuel Moran. To tell the story in new and visually exciting ways, the show will employ many techniques, including masks, marionettes, shadow puppets and animation, direct manipulation puppets, and object puppetry. Teatro SEA's puppet master and UNIMA Citation winner, Jose Lopez, will design and build the puppets, sets, and costumes, along with guest designer Deborah Hunt, a master puppeteer and mask maker from New Zealand who has been based in Puerto Rico for the past 25 years.

Thistle Theatre (Seattle, WA)
Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice - Hunca Munca and Tom Thumb are a pair of mischievous mice who move into a child's doll house and leave chaos and destruction in their wake. This theatrical production incorporates a mixture of diverse media including bunraku puppetry, live actors, and a folding doll house that collapses and expands during the performance. The production is also accompanied by an online website loaded with fun activities for kids.


St. Ann's Warehouse
2009-2010 Puppet Lab & Labapalooza $10,000

La Mama E.T.C.
Puppet Series III $10,000

The New 42nd Street
Cinderella, The Man Who Planted Trees, Elephant $10,000

New York City Center
Fall for Dance - Petrushka $5,000

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

Flushing Town Hall
Hugo & Ines $5,000