2012 Grants



Who's Hungry - Santa Monica
by Dan Froot & Dan Hurlin
Photo by Jeff Woodward
by Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith
Photo by Benjamin Heller

501 (see three) ARTS - Dan Froot & Dan Hurlin (Los Angeles, CA)
Who's Hungry - Santa Monica
Who's Hungry - Santa Monica is an evening of experimental tabletop puppet plays that give a voice and face to hunger. Produced and written by Dan Froot, designed and directed by Dan Hurlin, with music by Amy Denio, the plays tell the stories of five very different homeless and hungry Santa Monicans. Incorporating Bunraku, object manipulation, shadow play and rod puppetry, the work is presented on a specially built 24-foot dinner table. Joining the audience at the table are: Angel, who tumbled into homelessness after a career as a prominent interior designer; Cindy, a caseworker for an addiction recovery agency and recovering heroin addict herself; Chris, an original member of the notorious 1970s surfing/skateboarding crew known as the Z-Boys; Mike, who endured an eviction from subsidized housing while undergoing a dire health crisis; and Chanel, who drove to New York City when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, feeling the need to run down the street in fear with her fellow New Yorkers.

Lindsay Abromaitis-Smith (Bronx, NY)
Carnal and spiritual collide in this search for what nourishes the infinite possibilities of our hearts' desires. In the world of Epyllion, the story we are becoming unfolds through puppetry, movement and song, developing new rituals that tap into the innate intelligence of the body and reawaken this understanding in those who bear witness to it. Through everyday practices we identify ourselves in the moment but also touch upon an ancient, visceral subconscious.

Animal Cracker Conspiracy (San Diego, CA)
The Collector
The Collector is a contemporary puppet theatre hybrid manifesting a constructed reality, encapsulating viewers in an environment of animated objects, film, and surround sound. As a lowly debt collector travels through the urban leviathan, he undergoes a radical transformation of spiritas the boundaries between object and self collide. The story unfolds into a multidimensional mixed media performance through Orwellian, neo-Victorian lenses.



The Pigeoning
by Robin Frohardt
Photo by Robin Frohardt

Robin Frohardt (Brooklyn, NY)
The Pigeoning
Set in New York City, 1981, The Pigeoning follows the story of Frank, an obsessive compulsive. When a series of random events cause the order in his life to fall apart, Frank begins to looses touch with reality and is gradually consumed by the mysterious behavior of the pigeons and their possible role in a larger plot.

James Godwin (Brooklyn, NY)
Lunatic Cunning
Lunatic Cunning is a solo performance exploring the occult and transpersonal aspects of puppetry. Stories both visual and verbal combine in a semi-autobiographical journey of theatrical intrigue and low-tech analog illusion.

Lunatic Cunning
by James Godwin
Photo by James Godwin

LOCO7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company (New York, NY)
Urban Odyssey
An epic journey of the immigrant told with puppets, movement, live music text and video. Urban Odyssey is a compilation of three works by Federico Restrepo - 9 Windows, Open Door and Room To Panic. Urban Odyssey will merge all these productions, creating an epic journey that acknowledges the inevitability of a new American culture. A voyage of human experience, from leaving ones homeland, to finding a new country, to making a new home and setting down roots. With music composed by Elizabeth Swados and text by Elias Khoury.

Open Eye Figure Theatre (Minneapolis, MN)
The Sorcerer's Apprentice
The Sorcerer's Apprentice, created by Michael Sommers for the Open Eye stage. Originally written in 1797 as a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe called Der Zauberlehrling, the story of The Sorcerer's Apprenticehas had many incarnations, most famously as a segment in the Disney animated classic, Fantasia. The tale's themes of power, control, and notions of responsibility have made it a timeless piece of literature for all ages. Inspired by historical and "traditional" marionette theatre Mr. Sommers desire is to create "traditional" marionette theatre for a contemporary audience.


by Open Ink Productions
Photo by Julia Newman

Open Ink Productions (Brooklyn, NY)
Fabric, shadow, text, and live music combine to tell the story of Joan, a forewoman in a shirtwaist factory, and Blanck, the Triangle factory owner--two very different survivors of the fire that occurred seven years before at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

Roman Paska (New York, NY)
Mad Sweeney
Mad Sweeney (working title) -- a mixed-media performance freely inspired by the Middle Irish narrative poem Buile Suibhne, in which a legendary warrior, Suibhne (Sweeney), cursed by a quick-tempered saint, goes mad and wanders the desolate countryside, living in trees like a bird and feeding on watercress. Naked except for freakish growths of feathers and mistrustful of human society, he flies from one barren refuge to another, his adventures interspersed with outpourings of poetry in the language of the birds. With story elements updated to the early years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the piece is being written and directed by Roman Paska (The End of the World, Dead Puppet Talk, Beethoven in Camera, Schoolboy Play), with puppetry by Roman Paska and an original score by Bill Whelan (Riverdance, The Spirit of Mayo, The Connemara Suite).


D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks
by Sandglass Theater
Photo by Coni Richards

Light Keepers
by Amanda Villalobos
Photo by Amanda Villalobos

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT)
D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks
D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks is Sandglass Theater's newest production with puppets, video and music. It is a piece about dementia. It is also a piece about play, joy and communication. The title reflects both the stigma and the emergence, the despair and the joy, that is equally present and possible in both the person with dementia and in their caregivers and family members.

Lake Simons (Brooklyn, NY)
Wind Set-Up
In this surreal view of the everyday seasonal winds carry more than the morning paper. Wind Set-Up, a composition for materials and elements is a movement theatre piece utilizing object puppetry directed and designed by Lake Simons with live music composed by John Dyer.

Hanne Tierney (New York, NY)
Strange Tales of Liaozhai
In Strange Tales of Liaozhai two unrelated stories from a 17th century collection of Chinese folk tales are interspersed with each other. The first story, performed by Chinese silks and bamboo sticks, is based on Gertrude Stein's concept of Theater as Landscape. A landscape of fabrics is strewn on the stage, and through a counterweight stringing system the unconstructed fabrics are manipulated into gesticulation, re-configurations, shapes and movement; they become the characters in the play. The second story is entirely performed through overhead projection. This project juxtaposes the more immediate visual impact of projection with the concentrated focus needed for watching the fine-tuned gestures of the silk.

Amanda Villalobos (Brooklyn, NY)
Light Keepers
An old desk, a fading lighthouse, a tiny model town, and books with waterlogged spines come together to tell the story of Jordan, an androgynous orphan taken in by the mysterious and impossibly ancient lighthouse keeper Isaac Small. This is a story of searching for an identity, a place to belong and be useful, in a world where you may soon find yourself to be no longer needed. Jordan herself has always felt like something in between - between a boy and a girl, the land and the sea, between an unwanted orphan and a person with a mission - to keep the light lit, and to keep the stories safe.


by Paul Zaloom
Photo by Ann Hahn

Paul Zaloom (West Hollywood, CA)
WHITE LIKE ME: A Honky Dory Puppet Show
In his latest puppet extravaganza, WHITE LIKE ME: A Honky Dory Puppet Show, Paul Zaloom employs various action figures, tchotchkes, weird junk, and a ventriloquist dummy to satirize Caucasian anxiety about becoming a minority in the U.S. in 2040. A comedy.

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)


The Green Gold Tree
by Bluebird Theater
Photo by Donald Saaf

Bluebird Theater (Saxton's River, VT)
The Green Gold Tree
The Bluebird Theatre is creating a new show based on Goethe's Faust called The Green Gold Tree. Working with the assumption that everyone knows the story they will select moments to portray with marionette puppets, 2-D puppets, live music, and projections of hand-made magic lantern slides and film.

Melissa Creighton (Brooklyn, NY)
Love Me Knot
Discover what is behind the veil and under the crinoline in this tragicomic one-woman show about life leading up to your wedding day. This is a story of love and truth, the story of trying to get a grip on your own sense of self, sometimes warily, amidst the conventions that surround the act of getting hitched.

Double Image Theater Lab (Brooklyn, NY)
A Chance Shadow
A Chance Shadow is a non verbal poetic shadow play inspired by the Chinese poet Xu Zhimo and the Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. With their passion for literature, social reform and true love, they changed society. By using the elements of pop-up arts, Shadow Theater and Flamenco art, the show brings the audience into the poets' romantic and historical lives where they lived during the same time on opposite sides of the world.


The Seven Dwarves
by Jean Marie Keevins and Deborah Hertzberg
Photo by Deborah Hertzberg

Jean Marie Keevins & Deborah Hertzberg
(New York, NY)
The Seven Dwarves: A Survivial Story
The Seven Dwarves: A Survival Story, is a puppet theater performance piece intended for adult audiences, which will recount the lives of the real seven dwarves. This piece is based on the true-life story of the Ovitz family that narrowly survived the horrors of Dr. Mengele while imprisoned in Auschwitz. This story will be told using various forms of puppet theater and will examine the themes of war, anti-Semitism, torture, manipulation, faith, physical disability, family and the resiliency of the human spirit.

Lone Wolf Tribe (Brooklyn, NY)
10.5 (working title) is Lone Wolf Tribe's seventh full-length piece written, directed and performed by LWT's founder and artistic director, Kevin Augustine. Marking a return to his creative roots, 10.5 will be Augustine's first solo show in over 10 years and will explore the company's trademark themes of creation and existence. 10.5 will feature highly realistic life-size puppets inspired by 18th century anatomical wax models as well as a few sacrificial animals as referenced in the Old Testament.

Christine Marie (Oakland, CA)
Signaling Arcana
Signaling Arcana, pioneers the use of cinematic 3D/ stereoscopic shadow theater in an immersive productionset in the 19th century American wilderness as the threat of industrialization looms. Through fourteen expressionist vignettes Christine Marie and Ensemble will incorporate front and rear projected shadow theater, live performance, object manipulation, 3D effects, and a projected video character while revealing the mechanism of the technique to the audience. Composer, Dan Cantrell's live score features piano, theremin and accordion to connect the antiquated railroad days with the mystical sounds of unchartered liminal space.

Leila Ghaznavi (Los Angeles, CA)
Soldier Bear - Love and Strife: Untold Tales of WWII
Soldier Bear - Love and Strife: Untold Tales of WWII is a touching interpretation of the true story of Wojtek, a bear that fought along side a polish troop in WWII. As terror looms over the civilized world and disaster seems inevitable two creatures, one human, one not, create a bond of trust and camaraderie that surmounts all obstacles.

Toni Schlesinger (New York, NY)
Five Flights Up
This large-scale, puppet work for the stage is a fictional adaptation of Five Flights Up, the collection of Toni's award-winning, Village Voice columns about New York (Princeton Architectural Press). The piece is in five acts: The Woman Who Lives By The Sea, The Richest Man In The World, The Many, Mr. and Mrs. Kalabash, and The Man With The Knife In The Wall.

ShadowLight Productions (San Francisco, CA)
The Rebirth of Aspara
The Rebirth of Apsara is a full-length experimental dance/shadow theatre work choreographed by classic Cambodian dancer/choreographer Charya Burt and directed by shadow theatre artist Larry Reed. From Burt's personal perspective, Rebirth will explore the history of classical Khmer dance using Cambodian classic dance vocabulary and shadow theatre (sbek thom & sbek toch) as a foundation while re-envisioning classical gestures, imagery and movements. The project will also utilize Reed's one-of-a-kind shadow theatre technique, which ingeniously integrates shadow puppets and performers in a live montage, to bring a personal epic of diaspora, perseverance and beauty against the backdrop of turmultuous modern Canbodian history to life. 

Madame Schnuckenack
by Spybird Theater
Photo by Finn Campman

Fox Box
by Luis Tentindo
Photo by Luis Tentindo

Spybird Theater (Brattleboro, VT)
Madame Schnuckenack
Madame Schnuckenack is a piece about a woman who waits by the sea side for the return of her sailor son. Making herself a home in a pile of discarded cargo, she is haunted by shadows of memories and dreams of her son. When she makes the acquaintance of two crude hand puppets who inhabit the same beach, she begins to change. Confronted with the hand puppets grotesque life style, she is compelled to rise beyond the sadness of her loss and find new inspiration.

Luis Tentindo (New York, NY)
Fox Box/Would You Stil Be You?
Fox Box/Would You Still Be You? is an evening length puppet theater piece which utilizes skillful bunraku and shadow puppetry as well as dance. Fox Box unfolds as a suite of three 20-minute pieces and includes a live actor, musician and three puppet artists. Fox Box/Would You Still Be You? is a theatrical meditation on how we respond when objects, which we hold dear, are taken away and transformed. Fox Box will also be deployed as a site specific installation with a live performative component.

Wakka Wakka Productions (Brooklyn, NY)
Inspired by a 1240AD Icelandic tale, over 30 puppets ranging from 6 inches to 10 feet will tell the story of Egil Skallagrimsson, one of the most famous anti-heroes in Viking history: an unstoppable warrior and Skald (poet) unmatched in physical strength, combat skill and eloquence of verse. Through the retelling of "Egla," as Egil's saga is known, SAGA will investigate the troubled state of modern Iceland and how it exemplifies the financial crisis that continues to deeply affect the world.



The Wayfaring Zombie
by Kevin White
Photo by Richard Termine

Are They Edible?
by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew
Photo by Noe Kidder

Kevin White (Brooklyn, NY)
The Wayfaring Zombie
The Wayfaring Zombie, is a story of humanity and redemption. Using hand-carved wooden marionettes and graphic novel style artwork, The Wayfaring Zombie tells the story of a man soon to return from the grave. Told episodically it draws heavily from comic book imagery to propel the action from the page to the stage. The show was inspired by an old folk song of unknown origin, The Wayfaring Stranger. The visually dramatic performance incorporates a live band, foley artists and video projection.

Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Astoria, NY)
Are They Edible?
Are They Edible? is a multi-sensory puppetry performance inspired by Homer's epics: the Iliad and the Odyssey. It takes place in an interactive setting in which food consumption is used as a way to engage the audience in a tactile discourse on the relationship between war, heroes, diverging values and moralities, and hunger (or the urge to consume). The structure of the piece consists of story segments where each segment uses a different style of puppetry that draws upon textual references and then casts food in a dramaturgical role alongside the re-enactment by leading the audience, literally on their feet, through a journey of changing perspectives.


Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta, GA)
Peter Pan
Peter Pan is a new work of puppet theater for family audiences being adapted and directed by Michael Haverty, the Center for Puppetry Arts' Artistic Associate under the mentorship of Artistic Director Jon Ludwig. A modern update of J.M. Barrie's classic story, this bold new Mainstage production will utilize five puppeteers, original music, rod puppets, shadow puppets, and black light. Peter Pan will have its world premiere at the Center in April 2012.


by Glass Half Full Theatre
Photo by Caroline Reck

Nalah and the Pink Tiger
by Anne Sawyer-Aitch
Photo by Karen Haselmann

Glass Half Full Theatre (Austin, TX)
FupDuck is based on Fup, by Jim Dodge, a bitingly funny and achingly sad novela that reads like a field guide for recognizing the humor in life's troubles. FupDuck centers around foul-mouthed, back-woods octogenarian Jake and his gentle giant of a grandson, Tiny. Fup is their ornery twenty-pound duck. The story follows this non-traditional family's ongoing feud with the wild boar, Lockjaw, who leads them to a wry examination of what it means to live and how it is to die. Accompanied by live honky-tonk ruckus from the Austin-based band The White Ghost Shivers.

Anne Sawyer-Aitch (Minneapolis, MN)
Nalah and the Pink Tiger
Nalah and the Pink Tiger is a color shadow and hand-puppet piece based on puppeteer Anne Sawyer-Aitch's first children's picture book. (To be published March 17th, 2012.) Picture a beautifully detailed table-top Victorian house. It opens reveal a shadow puppet screen, with hidden doors where hand puppets can pop out and chase each other around, accompanied by a whimsical soundtrack featuring accordion music and hand-made instruments by Matt Larson. Nalah is based on Sawyer-Aitch's lively little niece. She lives so intensely in her imagination that grown-ups around her view her as a troublemaker. Things come to a head when - in addition to all the exotic animals that Nalah has "placed" in the house - a pink tiger "follows" her home from the zoo and creates havoc. The story celebrates the joyful explosiveness of a child's imagination. Nalah and the Pink Tiger premieres at In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's Saturday Matinee series on March 17th and will tour around the Twin Cities to libraries, schools, and other theater venues.


by Strings & Things Puppet Theatre
Photo by Robert Fu

Strings & Things Puppet Theatre (San Pedro, CA)
Songbirds is a delicately stylized puppet play inspired by traditional Chinese puppetry and theater techniques. It explores the complex relationships of song birds as a metaphor for a young Chinese/American couple's struggle for love and immigration during the early 20th century, a time of discrimination and unfair immigration practices in the United States. In this historically based story, we have taken careful consideration of the arts and methods of Chinese literature, opera, and puppetry techniques and have woven a metaphor rooted in folklore reminiscent of an ancient Chinese tale. Songbirds is a love story that endures heartbreaking separations, twists of fate and triumphant reunions; offering an opportunity to remember past struggles while engaging in a conversation about democracy and cultural perspectives.

Thistle Theatre (Seattle, WA)
The King of Dinosauria
The King of Dinosauria is an original musical production using tabletop Bunraku-style puppetry. It is a cautionary tale about politics revealing the subterfuge, absurdity and pitfalls of running for office, while presenting an argument for honesty and truth. The production will emulate the comedy of the Marx Brothers, who challenged the establishment by poking fun at authority through comedy and music.

Fergus Walsh (Astoria, NY)
Hippo is a hippopotamus. Actually, Hippo is a small hippopotamus. But he is a small hippopotamus who dreams big. One day Hippo wants to become the President of the United States. But first he must learn all he can about this country. Hippo is an educational show for children and adults exploring the history, geography and people of the United States.


Dixon Place
2012 Season: Puppet BloK, James Godwin, Paul Zaloom, Concrete Temple Theatre, Drama of Works $10,000

Flushing Town Hall
Hyundai Puppet Theatre $5,000

The Public Theater
Under the Radar 2012 - Blind Summit: The Table $5,000

HERE Dream Music Puppetry
Puppet Parlor, Epyllion, The House, Strange Tales of Liaozhai $10,000

West Side YMCA
Leslie Carrara-Rudolph - Wake Up Your Weird $5,000

St. Ann's Warehouse
Labapalooza 2012 $5,000

Father Goose Tales & Sure Sheep Workshop $5,000

The New Victory Theeater
Ring A Ding Ding, Dinosaur Zoo, Grug, & Fragile $10,000

St. Ann's Warehouse
Puppet Lab 2011-2012 $5,000