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5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to Return in January

5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival to Return in January

This year, the Chicago Puppet Fest has “gone annual,” launching a new era for Chicago as an international destination for the art and study of puppetry.

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, the largest of its kind in North America, is returning in a big way, January 18-29, 2023, at venues large and small throughout the city.

This year, the Chicago Puppet Fest has "gone annual," launching a new era for Chicago as an international destination for the art and study of puppetry.

For 12 consecutive days in January, Chicago will be the puppetry capital of the world, home to more than 100 performances and events around the city that promise to astonish and delight. From bunraku, to shadow, to crankie scroll, pageant-style puppets and more, puppets will take over Chicago for 12 amazing days and nights of inspiration and invention.

Tickets go on sale Wednesday, November 23 at chicagopuppetfest.org.

Artistic Director and Festival Founder Blair Thomas and Executive Director Sandy Smith Gerding have built a diverse roster of top contemporary puppets acts and artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world to be presented at theaters and community venues throughout the city. Ten countries are represented this year, including Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Finland, France, Norway, Japan, South Africa, Spain and the United States, specifically, New York, Boston and Chicago.

New in 2023 is establishment of a "Puppet Hub" with site-specific events activating various spaces in the Fine Arts Building on Michigan Avenue for all 12 days of the festival. Meanwhile the Fine Arts Building's newly renovated Studebaker Theater will the site of of two monster productions, opening with Moby Dick, a spectacle production by Plexus Polaire (Norway/France) featuring a whale-sized whale, January 18-21, closing with Frankenstein from Chicago's own Manual Cinema, January 27-29.

Also at the Studebaker, the Chicago Puppet Festival will present its first-ever film screening of Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique Film on January 24. Add a Puppet Hub photo exhibit celebrating him, one of two featuring the work of photographer Richard Termine, plus Twist's live presentation of his amazing sliding Japanese panel show, Dogugaeshi (January 26-29, Logan Center for the Arts), and this year boasts a Mini-Basil Twist Fest within a fest.

Elsewhere in the Fine Arts Building, check into MOTEL, a puppet show by Dan Hurlin that doesn't move. And stop in at the Chicago Puppet Festival Pop-Up Cafe, a central meeting place inside the Fine Arts Building suite 433 cooked up in partnership with sponsor Spoke & Bird Cafe, serving coffee, tea, winter soups and baked treats in a cozy, puppet-inspired setting.

Returning in 2023 are the FREE Neighborhood Tour, puppetry workshops, two days of free symposiums in the Studebaker Theater, co-presented by the School of the Art Institute, presented in-person and live streamed via Howlround, and two weekends of the Catapult Artist Intensive.

"Chicago demands more puppetry and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is delighted to oblige! Our 5th edition is our most ambitious to date, and audiences will experience the full range of puppetry style, story, and theatricality," said Thomas. "While most shows are for adults, we have expanded offerings for children. This year also marks the welcome return to presenting international puppet theater, many pieces being adaptations of classic literature. We have added this year the Puppet Hub to a robust schedule of shows, exhibitions, our first film screening, two days of symposiums, and the Catapult Artist Intensive. Puppeteers from around the world, nation and Chicago are absolutely prepared to astonish audiences."



Past festivals have attracted over 14,000 audience members, including Chicago residents enjoying a puppet-filled staycation, to national and international guests who travel to Chicago every January to enjoy world-class puppetry from here and abroad.

There's even an Official Hotel of the Chicago Puppet Festival, the Warwick Allerton Hotel on Michigan Avenue, offering a discounted rate during festival dates with the promo code PUPPETFEST.

Visit chicagopuppetfest.org to purchase tickets and for full festival information. Sign up for the festival's e-newsletter to receive first notice on special events, exclusive offers, and behind-the-strings scoop. Or, follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, hashtag #ChiPuppetFest.


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