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Chicago Puppet Theater Festival To Offer Live Virtual Puppetry Workshops In August

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Chicago Puppet Theater Festival To Offer Live Virtual Puppetry Workshops In August

Want to try something new?

Explore the art of puppetry with live, online workshops from the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Registration is now open for three live, online workshops in August, each a virtual introduction to a different form taught by top Chicago puppet theater artists.

First, Tom Lee will lead Experiments in Light and Shadow: Shadow Puppetry, August 1-8.

Festival founder and Artistic Director Blair Thomas follows with A Miniature Universe: Intro the Toy Theatre, August 8-15.

The third is Playing with Crankies: Explorations in Shadows and Scrolling Panoramas led by Myra Su, August 15-22.

The Chicago Puppet Fest's live online workshops are for adults, preferably with some performance and/or builder's experience. Students will gain new skills through a combination of live zoom instruction, individual work, performance coaching, and group presentation. Participants will use found objects and materials from their homes to create their own original works, while veteran Chicago puppeteers help guide them from conception, to construction, to a live presentation.

Cost per week is $185 for five, two-hour sessions. Limited scholarships are available. Learn more and register now at chicagopuppetfest.org.


More about the classes

Experiments in Light and Shadow: Shadow Puppetry


Instructor: Tom Lee
August 1-8
Saturday, August 1; Sunday, August 2; Thursday, August 6; Friday, August 7; Saturday, August 8; 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

Tom Lee, co-director of Chicago Puppet Studio and puppeteer from War Horse and Madama Butterfly, introduces a shadow puppetry workshop for the age of social distancing. This Zoom based workshop will take you through a process to create a shadow theater in your home using commonly available recyclables and simple tools. Building a theater, creating shadow figures and simple mechanisms, light sources and techniques, and puppetry performance with silhouettes will all be covered. The workshop culminates in a sharing of work by participants.


i??A Miniature Universe: Intro to the Toy Theater


Instructor: Blair Thomas
August 8-15
Saturday, August 8, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; Sunday, August 9, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.; Thursday, August 13, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, August 14, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, August 15, 1 p.m.-3 p.m.

The power of object theater is brought to life in the miniature proscenium frame of the toy theater in this introductory workshop. Festival Director Blair Thomas leads participants in this hands-on Zoom workshop through conception, fabrication and performance of a short tabletop size cardboard-constructed toy theater. Capturing the tradition of the itinerate puppeteer, the end result will be a short toy theater performance. The workshop culminates in a sharing of work by participants.


Playing with Crankies: Explorations in Shadows and Scrolling Panoramas


Instructor: Myra Su
August 15-22
Saturday, August 15; Sunday, August 16; Thursday, August 20; Friday, August 21; Saturday, August 22, 7 p.m.-9 p.m.

Myra Su is a multimedia artist who works with shadow puppetry, video, and crankies (i.e. scrolling panoramas). This workshop serves as an introduction to the crankie from a performative approach. Participants will learn basic construction tips and tricks as well as a cinematic framework to help storyboard and choreograph a crankie piece. We will also touch upon other performative elements that work well with crankies, like shadow puppets and acting in silhouette. The workshop culminates in a sharing of work by the participants.

Founded in 2014 by master puppeteer Blair Thomas, the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is a non-profit organization with a mission to establish Chicago as a prominent center for the art of puppetry and advance the form.

To date, the festival has presented three multi-week, citywide festivals in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Chicago's puppet festival has quickly grown to be the largest of its kind in North America, attracting as many as 14,000 audience members biannually to dozens of Chicago venues large and small to enjoy an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world.

In addition to planning the fourth Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival (dates to be announced), Chicago Puppet Fest programs include its new Pop-Up Puppet-Gram delivery service, educational programs for novices to professional puppeteers, an ongoing series of Free Neighborhood Tours, and the Chicago Puppet Studio, the festival's in-house puppet design and fabrication workshop.

Fittingly, the offices of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and the Chicago Puppet Studio are located in the Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Avenue, where, many argue was the birthplace of contemporary puppetry more than 100 years ago. The festival is led by founder and Artistic Director Blair Thomas, Managing Director Sandy Gerding, an Advisory Board and a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors.

For the latest updates, visit chicagopuppetfest.org.


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