2016 Grants


Inside I
by 7 Stages Theatre
Photo: Rebecca Makus
Liquid States
by Cave Dogs
Photo: James Fossett
Muntergang & Other Cheerful Downfalls
by Great Small Works
Photo: Erik McGregor
Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed
by Dan Hurlin / Red Wing Performing Group
Photo: Dan Hurlin
by Spencer Lott
Photo: Spencer Lott
Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic
by ShadowLight Productions
Photo: Hamid Rahmanian
Fox vs. Kingdom
by Studio Reynard
Photo: Richard Termine
Dream of Land
by Visual Expressions
Photo: Richard Termine
by Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc.
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
The Plastic Bag Store
by Robin Frohardt
Photo: Jegg Fitzgerald
Elephant in the Room
by Little Shadow Productions
Photo: Jean Marie Keevins
The Fasting Girls
by Alexis Macnab
Photo: Amanda Jane Shank
Frances Faye's Folk Song Fairground
by Ken Nintzel
Photo: Richard Termine
Ruby & Charlie
by Jessica Simon
Photo: Richard Termine
A Hunger Artist
by Sinking Ship Productions
Photo: Rachael Shane
What Keeps Us?
by abandoned ships
Photo: Erica Cho
Cardboard Explosion
by Brad Shur
Photo: Brad Shur
Music Box
by Liz Schachterle
Photo: Paul Eide
by Red Ball Theatre/ Anna Fitzgerald
Photo: Anna Fitzgerald
The Elephanteers
by Wonderstruck Theatre Co.
Photo: Eric Van Wyk

7 Stages Theatre (Atlanta, GA)
Inside I
Inside I explores the life and dreams of a boy (Ben) on the autistic spectrum as he journeys from birth through high school. Ben is played by a bunraku-style puppet implanted with live-feed wireless cameras, with live footage edited/altered and projected on stage in real-time, giving voice and image to the spectrum's unheard/unseen effects on function, psychology, and perception. Situated in the realm of both multi-disciplinary theater and social innovation, 'Inside I' merges science and the arts, investigating everyone's placement on a 'spectrum' of social and emotional expressiveness, and offering tools with which to better comprehend those different from ourselves.

Cave Dogs (Bloomington, NY)
Liquid States
Liquid States examines the nature of existence and its relationship to water on physical and metaphysical planes. The work will further focus on water in its histories and journeys thus forming a collective narrative that addresses mankind's complicated relationship to this essential natural resource. The performance consists of innovative, large-scale shadow projections cast onto a screen from puppets, props, and the human body - all of which move in concert with projected video imagery, spoken narrative, and an original soundtrack.

Great Small Works (New York, NY)
Muntergang & Other Cheerful Downfalls
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls is a bi-lingual puppet show inspired by the scripts, graphic designs and history of Modicut Yiddish Puppet Theater, and created in collaboration with the archives of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Yosl Cutler and Zuni Maud were two artists whose work in 1920's New York City has many parallels to the work of socially engaged puppeteers today. Investigating their cultural identity and political response has been the springboard for an exploration of our current social moment and our identities within it.

In the Heart of the Beast (Minneapolis, MN)
The Story of Crow Boy
THE STORY OF CROW BOY explores the intriguing life story of artist Taro Yashima who wrestled with human brutality, racial discrimination, and the ravages of WW11 to build work of social conscience, compassionate insight, poetic visual form, and ultimately- of joy. Yashima reminds us what it means to be human, and offers understanding into the complexities of cultural survival. This production draws on his autobiographical and fictional books including the Caldecott Award-winning CROW BOY (1955) about a young boy who learns to sing the "voices of crows" in defiance of his years of being bullied.

Dan Hurlin / Red Wing Performing Group (New York, NY)
Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed
Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed is a collection of four plays, written specifically for the puppet stage by Italian Futurist painter Fortunato Depero in 1917. Penned by hand in Depero's notebooks, they have been translated into English for the first time and will receive their world premiere approximately 100 years after they were written, revealing startling similarities between our world and the culture of WWI. As the Futurists embraced the technology of their day (automobiles, airplanes, telephones, etc.) so this production will embrace the technology of ours with live feed, filmed and computer animated sequences, and 3-D printed puppets.

Spencer Lott (Brooklyn, NY)
Blossom is an original play that uses puppetry to theatricalize an old man’s journey with Alzheimer's disease. The concept is inspired by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber and follows the deterioration of James Blossom, a former Hollywood set painter, as he loses his place in the present and starts slipping further into his own cinematic memories. The staging utilizes the role of the puppeteer as caretaker, and combines colorful projections with a variety of puppet styles to explore memory loss. Blossom seeks to humanize the disease for those who have been affected by dementia, and finds the moments of joy, self-expression, and creativity that still remain throughout the disease.

ShadowLight Productions (San Francisco, CA)
Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic
FEATHERS OF FIRE is an action-packed, cinematic shadow play that tells a magical story of star-crossed lovers, based on Shahnameh, a 10th century classic Persian epic . FEATHERS is an all-age adventure directed by Hamid Rahmanian, an Iranian-American graphic designer and filmmaker, in collaboration with Larry Reed and his ShadowLight Productions in San Francisco. Feathers of Fire will feature over 140 colorful shadow puppets, performers in elaborate masks and costumes, and digitally animated spectacular backgrounds designed by Rahmanian. All of these intricate elements are seamlessly choreographed and projected onto a cinemascope-size screen to give audience a feeling of "live animation."

Studio Reynard (Saugerties, NY)
Fox vs. Kingdom
Based on the darkly funny escapades of Reynard the Fox, an ancient beast epic, Fox vs Kingdom is a puppet feast hosted by a trio of troubadours. Using shadows, puppets and live music, the tale is spun, with Reynard accused of murder, theft, adultery, sacrelege and excessive violence. Witness the court's unraveling as lust for revenge and grisly tales of woe overwhelm the official festivities. Careening from folk song to operatic satire to salacious tango, animal appetites dominate in this retelling of a medieval blockbuster.

Visual Expressions (Boothwyn, PA)
Dream of Land
Dream of Land is an innovative, interdisciplinary, cross-cultural performance piece about finding the balance between the desire for worldly achievement and the desire for inner peace Through a series of fantastical dreams, viewers are taken on an unforgettable quest for the self.

Wakka Wakka Productions, Inc. (Brooklyn, NY)
MADE IN CHINA will be a dark musical comedy about the complicated relationship between the U.S. and China, specifically related to the production and consumption of goods, examined through the lens of an unlikely relationship between an eccentric middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor. It will feature over 30 puppets and masks, 7 puppeteers, 3 musicians performing music inspired by both American and Chinese folk traditions, and animated video. 


Eye Zen Presents (Emeryville, CA)
The Charlip Project
The Charlip Project is a new transdisciplinary puppet theater work about the life of seminal New York and San Francisco artist, Remy Charlip (1929-2012). The production will unearth and elevate Charlip's story as a gay Jewish artist, choreographer, and children's book author who worked in New York's post-war, avant-garde art scene leaving a vibrant mark on the worlds of art, dance, and Queer culture. The ensemble performance will fuse puppetry with dance, physical theater, live-drawing and music in an immersive puppet theater experience.

Robin Frohardt  (Brooklyn, NY)
The Plastic Bag Store
The Plastic Bag Store is a puppetry-based live performance and elaborate installation situated in a storefront in New York City. The "store" is a living environment where puppets, highly detailed sets and live actors converge to create a satirical performance experience, that explores the questions: How will our descendants interpret our plastic refuse left in tact thousands of years from now? Where does the human spirit exist and thrive in a world of disposability?

Little Shadow Productions (Brooklyn, NY)
Elephant in the Room
Elephant in the Room follows two families whose lives lay bare the realities and efforts of the human elephant conflict. Through the eyes of a young human girl and a female elephant calf the production presents audiences with the opportunity to face the urgency of the plight of the elephant head on. Elephant in the Room is a concert theatre experience that combines elements of film, puppetry, live music and theater.

Alexis Macnab (Los Angeles, CA)
The Fasting Girls
Using the language of puppets and performing objects, The Fasting Girls is a poetic meditation on the phenomenon of 19th century girls who starved themselves as a form of prayer, social rebellion, and personal control.  An exploration of the collision between religion and medicine, between the body and the soul, the piece uses various puppet styles including bunraku, miniatures, and shadow. Multi-disciplinary director Alexis Macnab stages the intimate and lyrical script by Amanda Jane Shank as a puppet-based produciton, with additional design collaboration by actor and puppetry artist Moira MacDonald.

Ken Nintzel (New York, NY)
Frances Faye's Folk Song Fairground
Frances Faye's Folk Song Fairground is an immersive installation that takes the form of a fairground with classic American folk songs being performed as individual works of object theater and puppetry. Inspired by the jazz / folk album Frances Faye Sings Folk Songs, as well as the indomitable Frances Faye herself, the fairground will animate some of the most beloved and disturbing folk tales that make up the American folk song songbook.

Ping Chong & Ryan Conarro (New York, NY)
Where the Sea Breaks its Back
In Where the Sea Breaks its Back, a multidisciplinary puppetry performance with media projections, movement & storytelling, Ping Chong & Ryan Conarro create a striking collage of Outsider encounters with Alaska. Using object puppets, shadow puppets, and a bunraku-style puppet from his desk onstage - a sort of Cabinet of Alaskan Curiosities - the storyteller invites audiences into the magical beauty, the harsh realties, & the complex cultural & ecological questions that proceed from the ongoing collision of cultures in Alaska.

Redmoon (Chicago, IL)
Conceived and created by Producing Artistic Director Frank Maugeri, and presented in collaboration with the University of Chicago, Redmoon's Dracula will employ contemporary puppetry, innovative object theater, and live music to create a dynamic new telling of the classic vampire tale. The project will premiere at the university's Bond Chapel as a part of the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT)
Babylon is a piece about migrants and refugees, who stand before us seeking shelter and asylum. We hear – and see – their stories. Some come from far away, children fleeing violence. Some come from surprisingly close. as rising oceans wash away their homes on nearby shores. Some come from a time long ago, to connect us to unfinished journeys. And some come like caterpillars, whose darkly ironic stories we can only imagine. Using puppets, a giant crankie, and song, Babylon interweaves four stories into one courtroom scene, and a giant road we all share.

Jessica Simon (Astoria, NY)
Ruby & Charlie
Ruby & Charlie is a work-in-progress, nonverbal, dance and movement-focused piece of puppet theater. It combines tabletop and shadow puppetry to tell the story of a couple in the 1950s, set to and inspired by the music of Ray Charles.

Sinking Ship Productions (Brooklyn, NY)
A Hunger Artist
Sinking Ship Productions presents a solo clown adaptation of the classic story A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka. Using toy theater, rod puppetry, and audience participation, the once great Impresario resurrects the spectacle of the Hunger Artist, whose notorious act, now fallen out of fashion, consisted entirely of publicly starving for forty days at a time. Once world famous, we follow the Hunger Artist as he becomes so marginalized by society he is completely forgotten.

Skysaver Productions (New York, NY)
Six Characters in Search of a Room
SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF A ROOM (working title) is a site-specific project that involves puppetry, live music, video and architecture. This project is inspired by Pirandello's absurdist classic SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR. The puppets range in scale from 2 feet to 10 feet high and are mostly rod puppets.

Robin Walsh (Los Angeles, CA)
Forgotten Baggage, Stories from the Willard Suitcases
In 1995, hundreds of suitcases from former patients were discovered at the Willard Psychiatric Center in upstate New York, their owners buried and forgotten. The people are gone, what remains are the possessions. Forgotten Baggage is a series of simple and intimate stories told through object theatre, based solely on items from these suitcases, giving the objects inside a chance to live out their lives, if only for a brief moment.


abandoned ships (New Orleans, LA)
What Keeps Us
What Keeps Us is about a giant witch who roams around a town and the curious townspeople that try to figure her out. The show combines audience participation, giant cardboard puppets, abstract table top puppets and shadow puppets to explore ideas of home, alienation and belonging.

Brad Shur (Brookline, MA)
Cardboard Explosion!
In this one-of-a-kind puppetry experience, five stories are brought to life using nothing but cardboard and the power of an audience's imagination. Inspired by everyday details from kids' lives, puppeteer Brad Shur transforms simple cardboard shapes into elaborate puppet characters and fantastical scenes . Audiences will outsmart dragons, invent superpowers, and leave empowered to create their own cardboard adventures..

CollaborationTown (Brooklyn, NY)
Riddle of the Trilobites
Riddle of the Trilobites is an epic musical adventure set underwater -- 500 million years ago during the Age of Invertebrates. As the ocean begins to change around her, one young trilobite sets off on a journey to solve the ancient riddle of how her species "cannot live but will not die." With heartfelt songs and constant humor, the play explores growing up, family, loss and our connection to and impact on our planet.

Liz Schachterle (Minneapolis, MN)
Music Box
Liz Schachterle, a.k.a Liz Howls, will be developing a poetic children's piece about searching to belong. The piece will incorporate shadow puppetry, miniature marionettes and found object puppetry. The soundtrack will be created by music producer Michael Gabrelcik (Mialga3).

Red Ball Theatre / Anna Fitzgerald (Baltimore, MD)
Adventures! Red Ball Theatre's new Family Production created by Anna Fitzgerald and Lola B Pierson. A clown walks into a room and realizes she is supposed to be in the show. Using only what she has with her, she must perform a story for the audience. She will learn about storytelling, stagecraft, and how to create art from a certain special puppet! Funny and weird for all! For ages four and up, there are no knights, no princesses and no being pretty.

Wonderstruck Theatre Co. (La Crosse, WI)
The Elephanteers
The Elephanteers is about a circus family bringing a full size circus elephant to life to befriend two children who lost their pets. The elephant becomes lead trumpeter for a sad clown jazz band that underscores the show and together they all create a live jazz circus. The show will be staged outdoors in neighborhood parks in cities along the Mississippi river.



Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic $5,000

Dream Music Puppetry 2016 $10,000

Memory Rings $5,000

Dixon Place
Puppet BloK $5,000

La MaMa e.t.c.
The God Projekt, Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls, Phantasmagoria, The Adventures of Seucy and Boto $10,000

New Victory Theater
Mr. Popper's Penguins, The Way Back Home, Grug and the Rainbow $10,000

St. Ann's Warehouse
Puppet Lab & Labapalooza 2016-2017 $10,000

Symphony Space
The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow, Ugly Duckling & Tortoise & The Hare, Cardboard Explosion, The Snowflake Man $5,000

The Tank
Bend, Photo & Supply $5,000


Made in China
by Wakka Wakka Productions


Wakka Wakka Productions
Made in China

A darkly comedic puppet musical inspired by true events, MADE IN CHINA is a fantastical exploration of human rights, consumerism and morality as told through the unlikely love story between an odd middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor.

MADE IN CHINA features 30 puppets, seven puppeteers, music inspired by both American and Chinese traditions, and animated video.  A co-production with Nordland Visual Theatre, MADE IN CHINA will premiere Off-Broadway in January 2017 at 59E59.