Details Announced for THE 5th CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL PUPPET THEATER FESTIVAL

This year, the 12-day Chicago Puppet Festival is ready to astonish and delight with contemporary puppet acts and artists from ten countries.

By: Dec. 13, 2022
Details Announced for THE 5th CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL PUPPET THEATER FESTIVAL

Tickets are now on sale for the 5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, the largest of its kind in North America, returning January 18-29, 2023, at venues large and small throughout the city. For tickets and information, visit chicagopuppetfest.org.

Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the citywide Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival returns for the first time as an annual event in 2023, showcasing an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles, at venues large and small throughout the city.

This year, the 12-day Chicago Puppet Festival is ready to astonish and delight with contemporary puppet acts and artists from ten countries - Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Finland, France, Norway, Japan, South Africa, Spain and the United States - namely New York, Boston and, of course, Chicago.

In addition to the always amazing pageant of international and U.S. puppetry artists, new in 2023 is establishment of a Pop-Up Puppet Hub with site-specific events in 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 be the site of two monster productions for audiences as large as 600, festival opener Moby Dick by Plexus Polaire (France/Norway), festival closer Frankenstein by Chicago's Manual Cinema, plus a screening of Basil Twist's Symphonie Fantastique Film.

Returning in 2023 are the FREE Neighborhood Tour, a series of puppetry workshops for working artists, and the Ellen Van Volkenberg Puppetry Symposium, for free at the Studebaker on both festival Saturdays.

Also back for artists across all disciplines looking for an all-inclusive, deep dive into diverse puppetry styles are two sessions of the Catapult Artist Intensive, offering eight shows per weekend with behind-the-scenes access to the artists (aka "how I'd like to see a festival" - Blair Thomas, Artistic Director, Chicago Puppet Festival).

The 5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is led by Artistic Director and Founder Blair Thomas, Executive Director Sandy Smith Gerding, with the support of a dedicated board, staff, and community of puppet artists in Chicago, the U.S. and around the world.

Following is information about each presentation, including venues, dates, times, ticket prices, estimated run time, video links, show descriptions and artist bios.

Visit chicagopuppetfest.org to purchase tickets or follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, hashtag #ChiPuppetFest.

OPENING NIGHT

5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival Opening Night Prelude Reception (fundraiser)
Wednesday, January 18, 5-7 p.m.
Studebaker Theater, Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Begins on 4th Floor
$125/$250 benefactor

Join top supporters, festival artists and staff to cheer the opening of the 5th Chicago Puppet Fest at this exclusive, pre-show reception, immediately followed by the opening night production, Moby Dick by Plexus Polaire.


Moby Dick


Plexus Polaire (Norway/France)
Chicago premiere, presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
January 18-21
Three performances: Wednesday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. (Opening Night); Friday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 21 at 5 p.m.
Tickets: $45/$35 students and seniors
14 and up
ADA accessible
100 minutes



Herman Melville's magnificent monster work of literature is also a monster in puppetry. Experience Moby Dick like never before at this Chicago premiere, direct from France and Norway, created by the masters that brought Chicago Ashes and Chambre Noire. Seven actors, 50 puppets, video projections on smoke, an octobass, and a whale-sized whale all play a part in this simple story of a sea voyage, turning it into a dizzying dive into the inexplicable mysteries of life through Melville´s irresistible narrative and the incredible artistry of Plexus Polaire.

Yngvild Aspeli, artistic director of Plexus Polaire, develops a visual world that brings our most buried feelings to life. The use of life-sized puppets is at the center of her work, but the actor's performance, the presence of the music and the use of light and video are all equal elements in communicating the story. "Puppetry is a form that constantly is reinventing itself," says Aspeli. "It goes beyond "genre", and fearlessly crosses the borders of other artistic expressions. Puppetry is not only a form, it is a way of seeing the world, a language, a state of mind." plexuspolaire.com

5th Chicago Puppet Fest Opening Night Post Show Party (fundraiser)
Wednesday, January 18, 8:45-10:45 p.m.
Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., 8th floor, Chicago
Tickets: $75

Come back up for air after Moby Dick to toast Plexus Polaire and all of the amazing puppet artists and acts ready to amaze and delight audiences over the remaining 11 days of the 5th Chicago Puppet Fest.

MORE SHOWS! (ALPHA BY TITLE)

Akutagawa


The Koryū Nishikawa Troupe (Japan/Chicago)
A world premiere presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chopin Theatre Mainstage, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
January 28 and 29
Four performances: Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29 at 2 p.m. and
6 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors
Family Friendly - 9 and up
ADA accessible
55 mins


The Koryū Nishikawa Troupe brings a collaborative puppet performance by Chicago-based puppet artist Tom Lee and Japanese traditional puppeteer Koryū Nishikawa V. This beautifully detailed production combines traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry with contemporary staging to share a Western perspective on the life of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, the father of the Japanese short story form.

Koryū Nishikawa is the fifth generation master of the kuruma ningyō style, a 160-year-old solo puppetry tradition recognized as a national cultural asset by Japan. In kuruma ningyō, or cart puppetry, a performer sits on a small wheeled box holding the puppet's feet between his toes and the puppets head and arms with his hands. Related to the three-person Bunraku-style, kuruma ningyō is one of the most unique puppet forms on the planet allowing a powerful and virtuosic performance rooted in deep spiritual power.

Anywhere


Théâtre de L'Entrouvert (France/Chicago)
Chopin Theatre Mainstage, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
U.S. premiere, presented by Théâtre de L'Entrovert and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
January 19-22
Four performances: Thursday, January 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 21 at 7:30 p.m; Sunday, January 22 at 4 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors
12 and up
ADA accessible
50 minutes


A marionette made of ice will melt your heart in Anywhere, an exquisite, landmark string-marionette work created by the French company Théâtre de l'Entrouvert. Freely inspired by Henry Bauchau's novel "Oedipus on the Road," Anywhere evokes the long wandering of Oedipus accompanied by his daughter Antigone. The fallen Oedipus appears in the form of an ice puppet that gradually melts, then appears as mist and finally disappears in the forest, the place of clairvoyance. Anywhere traces with gentleness and strength a poetic journey, in black and white, of fire and ice, which speaks to us about our bodies, our environment, our fragilities, and our wanderings in the infinite circle of renewal.

The Chicago Puppet Festival and Théâtre de l'Entrouvert are working in close collaboration setting this work on a U.S.-based ensemble, led by Chicago puppeteers Mark Blashford and Ashwaty Chennatt, who are traveling to Ales, France this winter to observe performances of the work in Ales and learn the complexities of performing with ice. Following its debut, the Chicago Puppet Festival plans to tour the work nationally starting in 2023.

Théâtre de l'Entrouvert was created in 2010 by Elise Vigneron trained in plastic arts, circus arts and puppetry arts (graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières). At the crossroads of disciplines, the Théâtre de l'Entrouvert supports a contemporary vision of the puppetry arts, while drawing inspiration from its origins. lentrouvert.com

Presented with support from the Ferdi Foundation/Julie Moller, Jentes Family Foundation, Justine Jentes and Dan Karuna.



as though your body were right


Khecari (U.S./Chicago)
Created by Jonathan Mayer, with puppets designed by Tom Lee
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 402, Chicago
January 19-29
11 performances: Thursday, January 19-Sunday, January 29 at 7 p.m., all days
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors; maximum capacity per show: 7
For adults audiences - 17 and up (contains nudity)
ADA accessible
62 minutes
Note: When the show is not in process, the set can be viewed as part of the Puppet Hub exhibitions


An audience of seven in a room within a room. A micro-theater. A puppet theater. The performer's body as landscape. Watching the cells of the body murmurate like starlings. A creature that would live on such a landscape. Crawling over it, flying over it. Calling it home. as though your body were right is an invitation to confront the bodiliness of being human - a shared experience of the vulnerability of being a body, and of the power of being a body.

Khecari, based in Chicago, creates dance works furthering the transformative power of live bodies witnessing live bodies and advocates for the essential role of art within society, of dance within the arts, and of all artists working within the dance ecosystem. Khecari presents work created in collaboration with artists in dance, music, design, and other media, to offer live performed art that challenges, engages, and focuses the power of attention. khecari.org


Choo. Choo. Whistle. Woof!


Naive Theater (Czechia)
U.S. premiere, presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chicago Children's Theatre
100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago
January 25-29
10 performances: Wednesday, January 25 - Sunday, January 29 at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., all days
Tickets: $25/$20 students and seniors
Family Friendly - 2 and up
ADA accessible
40 minutes


He spends his days gardening, and just on the other side of the fence, she runs in the yard - until her owner whistles. As it happens, not only in the lives of dogs, the two have become enchanted with each other, perhaps even fallen in love. A charming and ingenious series of events full of garden railings, railway yards, steam locomotives and dogs in cars, Choo. Choo. Whistle. Woof! unfolds in continual tabletop puppetry delight as the classic boy meets girl story is playfully retold as dog meets dog, dog loses dog and hopefully, finds her again!

The Naive Theater Liberec was established in 1949, and it was one of the first professional puppet theaters in the former Czechoslovakia. For the last 70 years it has remained in the minds of the audience as well as professionals as the Czech puppet theatre of an excellent quality. naivnidivadlo.cz


Dogugaeshi


Basil Twist (U.S./New York)
Chicago premiere, co-presented by The Chicago International Puppet Festival and Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, The University of Chicago, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago
January 26-29
Eight performances: Thursday, January 26 at 7:30 p.m.: Friday, January 27 at 3 and 8 p.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 11 a.m., 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.; Sunday, January 29 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors
Family Friendly - 11 and up
ADA accessible
60 minutes



Basil Twist, the internationally acclaimed master puppeteer and recipient of the Rome Prize, unfolds an intimate, abstract, contemporary journey of images and emotions. A feast for the eyes, heart and soul, this Chicago premiere is influenced by "Dogugaeshi," a rarefied tradition of Japanese sliding screen stage technique, and Twist's own encounters with the remaining rural caretakers of this once popular art form. Winner of the 2005 Bessie Award and an UNIMA Award for Excellence in Puppetry, Dogugaeshi features original shamisen compositions created and performed live by authorized master musicians Yumiko Tanaka and Yoko Reikano Kimura.

Basil Twist, a third generation puppeteer, has significantly contributed to the art of puppetry since 1998, known worldwide for creating original abstract adult puppet works focused on their integration with music. His famous work Symphonie Fantastique, which takes place in a tank of water, is performed to the symphony of the same name. (A new film version is screening Tuesday, January 24 at 6 p.m. at the Studebaker Theater as part of this year's festival.) n 2010, Twist created the puppetry for the Broadway productions of The Pee-Wee Herman Show and The Addams Family. Other works include La Bella Dormente nel Bosco, Petrushka, Hansel and Gretel, Master Peter's Puppet Show, the Araneidae Show, Behind the Lid, and Arias with a Twist. He has received national and regional recognition through numerous awards, including a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, an Obie Award, a Creative Capital Award in the discipline of Performing Arts and a Guggenheim fellowship. He was a Fall 2015 MacArthur Fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts. He attended Oberlin College and graduated from the École Supérieure Nationale des Arts de la Marionnette in Charleville-Mézières, France. He is founder and director of the Dream Music Puppetry Program at Here Arts Center in NYC. His newest project is leading the puppetry in the Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation of My Neighbor Totoro at the Barbican Theatre, London. basiltwist.com


Frankenstein


Manual Cinema (U.S./Chicago)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
January 27-29
Three performances: Friday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 29 at 3 p.m.
Tickets: $45/$35 students and seniors
Family Friendly - 9 and up
ADA accessible
66 minutes


Love, loss, and creation merge in unexpected ways when Manual Cinema presents its thrilling version of the classic Gothic tale, "Frankenstein." This Chicago-based performance collective imaginatively combines shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, sound effects, and live music in haunting shows like nothing else you've ever seen. With Frankenstein, Manual Cinema stitches together the original gothic novel with the biography of its author, Mary Shelley, to create an unexpected story about the beauty and horror of creation.

Manual Cinema is an Emmy award winning performance collective, design studio, and film/ video production company founded in 2010 by Drew Dir, Sarah Fornace, Ben Kauffman, Julia Miller and Kyle Vegter. Manual Cinema tours internationally, combining handmade shadow puppetry, cinematic techniques, and innovative sound and music to create immersive stories for stage and screen. Using vintage overhead projectors, multiple screens, puppets, actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design, and a live music ensemble, Manual Cinema transforms the experience of attending the cinema and imbues it with liveness, ingenuity, and theatricality. Their shadow puppet animations were featured in the 2021 film remake of Candyman, directed by Nia DaCosta and produced by Jordan Peele's Monkeypaw Productions. Recent productions include Leonardo! A Wonderful Show about a Terrible Monster, based on books by Mo Willems, and a new live version of Manual Cinema's Christmas Carol, based on the acclaimed virtual production in 2020. manualcinema.com



FREE Neighborhood Tour - My Night in the Planetarium


Little Uprisings (U.S./Boston)
Family Friendly - ALL AGES
45 minutes
January 19-22
Five performances at four locations around Chicago:
Thursday, January 19 at 4:30 p.m.: Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W. Armitage Ave.
Friday, January 20 at 4:30 p.m.: Marshall Field's Garden Apartments/Art on Sedgwick, 1408 N. Sedgwick St.
Saturday, January 21 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.: Navy Pier, 700 E. Grand Ave.
Sunday, January 22 at 11 a.m.: ETA Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave.


My Night in the Planetarium is based on the award-winning book by Innosanto Nagara, a graphic artist and acclaimed author/illustrator of "A Is for Activist" and "Counting on Community." Nagara tells his own true story of facing dictatorship and oppression in his childhood in Indonesia. It is a child's view of a particular place and time-but it is also an introduction to Indonesia, a story about colonialism, and a message about the power of creativity.

Little Uprisings uses a multi-faceted, creative approach that centers the beauty and power of Blackness to build long lasting, deep and sustainable relationships in order for change to take root, growing a practice that allows justice to take hold daily. My Night in the Planetarium is the culmination of a multi-year partnership between founder Tanya Nixon-Silberg and Puppet Showplace Theater that explored the power of puppetry to translate complex, difficult realities of colonialism, dictatorship, and dissent into kid-centered stories and scenes. littleuprisings.org


Go Home Tiny Monster


The Gottabees (US/Boston)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago
January 19-22
Four performances: Thursday through Sunday, January 19-22 at 1 p.m.
Tickets: $25/$20 students and seniors, each performance
Family Friendly - Ages 3 and up
ADA accessible
40 minutes
Presented in "daily rep" with Squirrel Stole My Underpants. See one or both!



What happens when a girl and her family of homespun creatures suddenly find themselves in need of a new home? They look for help and, luckily, they find it. Featuring The Gottabees' trademark mix of puppetry, joyously absurd silliness, physical theater, live music and surprising poignancy.

The Gottabees are a Boston-based ensemble dedicated to creating inspirational, engaging, and empowering theater for family audiences. The company is known internationally for uniting simple-but-elegant visual theater with astonishing technique. The Gottabees apply its interdisciplinary training in music, dance, acrobatics, theater, and design to share original non-verbal stories set to live music that weave together human and puppet characters in surprising ways. thegottabees.com


Grand Panorama


Theodora Skipitares (U.S./New York)
Presented by Harold Washington Library and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Harold Washington Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, 400 S. State St., Chicago (Plymouth Court entrance )
January 22-24
Three performances: Sunday, January 22 at 2 p.m.; Monday January 23 at
5 p.m.; Tuesday, January 24 at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $30/$20 seniors, CPS students free, limited availability
Family Friendly - 9 and up
ADA accessible
52 minutes


Frederick Douglass is widely recognized as the most photographed person in the 19th century. In Grand Panorama, his obsession with photography takes center stage illuminating the power of image to "tell the truth" about humanity and the African-American experience during slavery. Directed and designed by Greek artist, Theodora Skipitares, using her trademark larger-than-life size puppets, artforms blend with panorama, magic lantern, shadow theater and crankies to articulate Douglass's belief that "Rightly viewed, the whole soul of man is a sort of picture gallery, a grand panorama." Featuring music by Mazz Swift, performed by Brittany Harris, and puppetry direction by Jane Catherine Shaw.

Theodora Skipitares is a visual artist and theater director. Born in San Francisco of Greek parents, she moved to New York in 1970. She began creating personal solo performances in the mid 1970s. She began to examine social and historical themes using realistic, life-size puppet figures, as well as miniature ones, that became the "performers" in large-scale works including live music, film, video, and documentary texts. She has collaborated with prominent composers such as Virgil Moorefield, Bobby Previte, Scott Johnson, and most recently, Sxip Shirey. These works included The Age of Invention, an examination of three centuries of American invention featuring 300 puppets, Defenders of the Code, a history of eugenics, and The Radiant City, a music-theater work based on the life of Robert Moses. More recent projects include Under the Knife, a site-specific story of medicine which took an audience to twelve different theater environments, and Body of Crime, a history of women in prison. theodoraskipitares.com


Hamlet


Janni Younge (South Africa)
A U.S. premiere presented by The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, 740 E. 56th Place, Chicago
January 26-29
Four performances: Thursday, January 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 27 at 10:30 a.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 29 at 2 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors
Family Friendly - 10 and up
ADA accessible
77 minutes


Humans and puppet creatures coil, tangle, knot and mesh together in celebrated South African artist Janni Younge's new adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Told through beautifully crafted life-size puppets, this captivating production explores the complex psychological facets of humanity facing an onslaught of challenges.

Younge is a director and producer of multimedia, theatrical and visual performance works, with an emphasis on puppetry. Her co-production of The Bluest Eye with Margaret Laurena Kemp was a standout at last year's Chicago Puppet Festival. A director of Handspring Puppet Company for four years, she currently runs Janni Younge Productions and directs UNIMA SA (SA Puppetry). Her works include creation and direction of Ouroboros, The Firebird and Take Flight. janniyounge.com


Invisible Lands


Livsmedlet Theater (Finland)
A U.S. premiere presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chopin Theatre Basement, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
January 19-22
Five performances: Thursday, January 19 at 5:30 p.m.; Friday, January 20 at 9 p.m.; Saturday, January 21 at 4 p.m.; Sunday, January 22 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Tickets; $40/$30 students and seniors
12 and up
50 minutes
Not accessible



Across the desert, behind our back. Up the mountain, down our spine. Over the sea, just under our nose. On the day the war broke out, we left home.

Finish visual theater duo Livsmedlet brings a unique meeting of puppetry and choreography to Chicago, to explore empathic approaches to refugee travels. Geography and politics extend and transform to create organic performance platforms - bodies. Take a closer look at what presence, connection and endurance are really all about in this mix of performance, projection and puppetry.

Livsmedlet is a creative collaboration consisting of the puppeteer and director Ishmael Falke and the choreographer and dancer Sandrina Lindgren. Their work puts body and material In Focus and challenges audience's perspective of physical surroundings and everyday life by utilizing a mix of contemporary puppetry, dance and choreography as well as object theater and physical theater. Other works include TraFika and Dead Ends, in which they play with the city's traffic symbols, and Full Measures , which takes on society's obsession for measuring. For Invisible Lands, they received the 2018 Director's Prize at Bania Luka puppet theater festival in Bielsko Biala, Poland, and a prize for "intimate artistic grasp of current theme" at Spectaculo Interesse festival in Ostrava, Czech Republic in 2019. facebook.com/Livsmedlet

Presented with support from the American-Scandinavian Foundation.


Invitation to a Beheading


Rough House Theater Co. (U.S./Chicago)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chopin Theatre Basement, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
January 27-29
Three performances: Friday, January 27 at 9 p.m.: Saturday, January 28 at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday, January 29 at 7 p.m.
Tickets: $30/$20 students and seniors
12 and up
Not accessible
80 minutes



In a bizarre and irrational world, a man is condemned to death for an absurd crime and sent to a surreal prison to await his execution. But the prison may not be what it seems. Alternately disorienting, absurd, hysterical and hopeful, this great novel by 20th century master Vladimir Nabokov is brought to the stage by Michael Brown and Rough House with their signature combination of playfulness and strangeness. Full of surprising twists and turns, the novel comes to life through a combination of puppetry, masks and imaginative storytelling.

Chicago's Rough House Theater Co. is on a mission to connect individuals and communities through art that celebrates the weird things that make us unique and the weirder things that bring us together. Their shows use puppetry, music and human performance to tell intimate stories, as strange as they are sincere. roughhousetheater.com


Macbeth Muet


La Fille du Laitier (Canada)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chopin Theatre Basement, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago
January 23-25
Three performances: Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m.; Tuesday, January 24 at 8:30 p.m.; Wednesday, January 25 at 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$30 students and seniors
12 and up
Not accessible
60 minutes



Performed entirely without words, Macbeth Muet completely deconstructs this Shakespeare Tragedy into a fast paced, visceral theater experience, using the body, objects as imagery, and a ton of fake blood. Entire scenes are reduced to a single look, as Shakespeare's complex and beautiful poetry is rendered mute, and searing.

La Fille du Latier is "a theater delivery service, bringing creative and innovative theater to your doorstep." Using a portable theatre scene attached to a delivery truck, it travels around the small communities in the city of Montreal, with the aim of democratizing art, creating a theater that is affordable and accessible to those who may not normally get the chance to experience it. lafilledulaitier.com



Macunaíma Gourmet


Pigmalião Escultura que Mexe (Brazil)
U.S. premiere presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
MCA Chicago, 205 E. Pearson St., Chicago
January 26-28
Three performances: Thursday, January 26 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 27 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45/$35 students and seniors
14 and up
ADA accessible
Performed with English subtitles
80 minutes



Met by standing ovations at its 2019 premiere, this reinterpretation of the popular Brazilian novel "Macunaíma" by Mário de Andrade is full of spectacle, outrageousness and political perspective that demanded expression through puppetry and object. This adaptation, Macunaíma Gourmet, transports the modernist novel to the present day. In its new guise, the piece discusses the storm that Brazilian and global society faces in its socioeconomic and cultural structures with distinctive raucous imagery, unforgettable Brazilian style, and the urgency with which puppets can make political points.

Pigmalião Escultura que Mexe (Brazil) creates, produces, and presents puppet theater. The group's work starts from the research on construction and manipulation of traditional techniques, developing those techniques and then transposing them to the contemporaneous scene. Working over different styles, Pigmalião investigates the possibilities to give movement to sculptures. pigmaliao.com



Nasty, Brutish & Short (Chicago/U.S./International)


A late-night puppet cabaret, co-presented by Links Hall, Rough House Theater Co. and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Links Hall
3111 N. Western Ave., Chicago
January 20-28
Four performances: Friday and Saturday, January 20 and 21, January 27 and 28 at 10:30 p.m.
Tickets: $18/$15 students and seniors
16 and up
ADA accessible
85 minutes


Extend your festival experience by hitting Chicago's favorite late-night puppet cabaret, Nasty, Brutish & Short. This special festival edition, featuring the charming and furry host, Jameson, is home to raucous, raunchy, dark, sassy, sad and mostly hilarious puppet theater, highlighting more experimental work by out of towners as well as local favorites in four different nights of puppet revelry.

All four Nasty, Brutish & Short cabarets will also be streamed live. Check website for details.


New Shoes


Tian Gombau (Spain)
U.S. premiere presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chicago Children's Theatre
100 S. Racine Ave., Chicago
January 25-29
10 performances: Wednesday, January 25 - Sunday, January 29, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., all days
Family Friendly - 3 and up
Tickets: $25/$20 students and seniors
ADA accessible
30 minutes



A child puts on a pair of new shoes and goes to the river for a snack. Along the way he discovers the world that surrounds him: streets, houses, landscapes, people, and animals. His shoes accumulate experiences as he grows, little by little.

Internationally recognized Tian Gombau creates large experiences from very little. In this one-man show, a local event at a Mediterranean town takes you on a universal journey, speaking with simplicity and poetry about the fact of growing up. People of all ages can venture into the child's world in the gentle flow of popular songs, nature, and the sands of time.

Tian Gombau founded Tian Gombau - Teatre de l'Home Dibuixat, in 1992, and has gone on to produce and perform shows in more than 40 countries, in 10 different languages. His repertoire consists of visual and object theater, with poetic language that transmits emotions and messages of tolerance and humanity. homedibuixat.com


R.A.G.E.


Les Anges au Plafond (France)
U.S. premiere, presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
MCA Chicago, 205 E. Pearson St., Chicago
Tickets: $45/$35 students and seniors
January 19-21
Four performances: Thursday, January 19 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, January 21 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
13 and up
ADA accessible
1 hour 45 minutes
Performed in French with English subtitles


In a spectacular blending of magic, puppetry, gesture and manipulation, R.A.G.E. presents the outlandish story of a literary imposter who, to escape censorship, invents a new identity and plots one of the most beautiful deceptions of the 20th century. This politically epic and scathing story teeters on the porous border between reality and fiction. Join miles of threads, dozens of puppets, a trumpeter, a singer and a man as they weave a plot of resistance with maternal love in a desperate attempt to re-enchant the world.​

Les Anges au Plafond was born from the meeting of two puppeteers Camille Trouvé and Brice Berthoud, who articulate their artistic language around three main axes: the breath of the epic, the space in question and the gesture of manipulation, visible or invisible. Puppets, shadows, projections, pop-up, scenography in movement, the poetic and offbeat universe of Les Anges au Plafond is declined throughout the shows with paper as the material of predilection and live music at the heart of the dramaturgy. Driven by the desire to tell intimate and spectacular stories, they transport us into the tales of life trajectories, from the founding myths of Antigone and Oedipus to the figures of contemporary artists. lesangesauplafond.net

Presented with support from FACE Foundation and Cultural Services, French Embassy, United States.



Squirrel Stole My Underpants


The Gottabees (US/Boston)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Chicago Children's Theatre, 100 S. Racine Ave. Chicago
Tickets: $25/$20 students and seniors, each performance
January 19-22
Four performances: Thursday through Sunday, January 19-22 at 10 a.m.
Family Friendly - Ages 3 and up
ADA accessible
40 minutes
Presented in "daily rep" with Go Home Tiny Monster. See one or both!



In this poignantly silly adventure tale for families, Sylvie is sent to the backyard to hang up the laundry. The moment her back is turned, a mischievous squirrel steals her favorite piece of clothing and runs off. When Sylvie gives chase, an entire world emerges from her laundry basket, and curious characters show her the way through mysterious lands.

The Gottabees are a Boston-based ensemble dedicated to creating inspirational, engaging, and empowering theater for family audiences. The company is known internationally for uniting simple-but-elegant visual theater with astonishing technique. The Gottabees apply its interdisciplinary training in music, dance, acrobatics, theater, and design to share original non-verbal stories set to live music that weave together human and puppet characters in surprising ways. thegottabees.com



Symphonie Fantastique Film


A film by Basil Twist (U.S./New York)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Tickets: $15/$10 students and seniors
One show only: Tuesday, January 24 at 6 p.m.
Family Friendly - ALL AGES
ADA accessible
55 minutes


In 1998, puppeteer Basil Twist debuted his boundary-breaking response to Berlioz's 1830 "Symphonie Fantastique" to universal acclaim. In the two decades since, Twist became an internationally recognized artist in opera, ballet, and on Broadway, winning countless awards including the illustrious MacArthur Fellowship.

In 2018 Twist revisited his legendary masterpiece in its original home, the HERE Arts Center in NYC with live accompaniment by the virtuosic Christopher O'Riley playing the exquisite Liszt transcription for concert piano and in a significantly larger aquarium. Symphonie played a critically lauded and sold-out six-month run, allowing the finest performances to be captured on film in front of, behind, and inside the 1,000-gallon water tank by Twist and director Bobby Sheehan.

Soon after, while on a Rome Prize fellowship, Twist collaborated with master Italian film artisans to edit and refine the definitive filmed version of this iconic theatrical experience. The result, Twist's first full-length film, is not just a document of a performance but an artistic expression in its own right, weaving imagery seen by the audience with the unseen backstage ballet of the puppeteers and the emotional synergy of the live musical performance. It received its world premiere at the 2019 World Puppetry Festival in Charleville Mézières, France, where Twist was the guest of honor.


POP-UP PUPPET HUB EXHIBITIONS


Fine Arts Building, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Curated by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Presented in partnership with The Spoke & Bird and the Fine Arts Building
Hours: Opening Night, Wednesday, January 18, 8-9:30 p.m.
January 19-29: Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Sunday, 12-6 p.m.

The Chicago Puppet Festival's new Pop-Up Puppet Hub is bursting with activities. It's the perfect place to relax between shows, meet up with friends and make new ones!

Enjoy The Spoke & Bird Pop-Up Cafe (Suite 433) serving coffee, tea, winter soups and baked treats in a cozy, puppet-inspired setting. Check into Motel, a puppet show exhibition that doesn't move, created by Dan Hurlin (Suite 403). The Puppet Hub is also the host site for two photo exhibitions, The Jim Henson Foundation presents American Puppet Theater Today: The Photography of Richard Termine (Suite 410) and The Art of Basil Twist (Suite 404).

Next door to the cafe, explore Vancouver, showcasing the made-for-film puppet theater collaboration with Ma-Yi Theater Company (Suite 433). If you didn't get a ticket to see as though your body were right, you can pop in and check out the remarkable set designed for only seven audience members at a time (Suite 402). And, be sure to stop in Exile in Bookville (Suite 210), which is welcoming Puppet Hub visitors with a special display of books on puppetry, and plenty of copies of the many works of literature being brought to stage all over the city at the 5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival.

Here's more:

The Spoke & Bird Pop-Up Cafe (Suite 433)

Take a break between the many Puppet Hub shows and exhibits in a cozy, puppet-inspired pop-up cafe inside the Fine Arts Building cooked up with festival sponsor, The Spoke & Bird Cafe. Or just pop in to meet fellow puppetry enthusiasts for coffee, tea, winter soups and baked treats.
Motel (Suite 403)
By Dan Hurlin



Motel consists of a half-scale cheap motel room built inside a wooden touring crate. A woman in a travel agent's uniform sits on the edge of a bed, staring at the floor. In addition to motel room props like packaged mini-soap and plastic cups wrapped in cellophane, the room is also littered with quotidian objects that create the suggestion of a bleak, foreboding narrative. The soundscape includes crickets, dogs barking, trucks rumbling by, backdrops to the droning sound of Nixon testifying in front of a grand jury during Watergate, or the January 6th congressional hearings, depending on the day of your visit. Art Spiel called Motel "a world-class contemporary art installation...so magical and odd...The entire experience is mesmerizing and tantalizing."

Puppeteer and sculptor Dan Hurlin explains "a motel is a liminal space, situated inconclusively between a departure and an arrival. It is a way station between what happened before, and what happens next. Far less brutal than Trump's vision for our Southern border, a motel is a temporary detention center of sorts (albeit a voluntary one), where the inhabitants hold up and wait with eager anticipation for the future, or a fearful dread of it."

Dan Hurlin received a 1990 Village Voice Obie award for his solo adaptation of Nathanael West's A Cool Million, and in 1998, he was nominated for an American Theater Wing Design award for his set design for his music theater piece The Shoulder. His suite of puppet pieces Everyday Uses for Sight: Nos. 3 & 7 (2000) earned him a 2001 New York Dance and Performance award, and his piece Hiroshima Maiden was given an Obie award for music by Robert Een and received a UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence. Other works include Disfarmer (2009), premiered at St. Ann's Warehouse, and Demolishing Everything with Amazing Speed (2016) premiered at Bard Summerscape Festival. Currently, he is working on a new project entitled Bismark.

Presented with support from Cheryl Henson.

The Jim Henson Foundation presents American Puppet Theater Today: The Photography of Richard Termine (Suite 410)


New York-based photographer Richard Termine has documented American puppet theater for over 30 years. Termine's work captures the animated gesture of the puppet in still images. Over 100 images and objects in this exhibition, including photographs of Jim Henson at work, illustrate the dynamic range of puppet theater being created by a vibrant community of artists in the New York City area, as well as some of the excellent work presented at national puppet festivals across the United States.

A special section, "Puppetry During the Pandemic," celebrates resilient puppet artists who continued to create and perform new work over the past two years.


The Art of Basil Twist (Suite 404)


As seen by Richard Termine, presented by Tandem Artist Productions
Photographer Richard Termine's keen eye zooms in on the exceptional work of one of the United States' most prolific and versatile puppeteers, festival artist Basil Twist.

Both photo exhibits are presented with support from Cheryl Henson and the Jim Henson Foundation.

Vancouver (Suite 433)
Presented by the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival's Chicago Puppet Studio


See the the original storyboards, the cast of puppet characters, and the miniature sets and props designed and crafted by the Chicago Puppet Studio for Vancouver, the multi-award winning, made-for-film puppet theater collaboration initiated in 2020 by Ma-Yi Theater Company, in association with The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, and directed by Ralph B. Peña.


Exile In Bookville (Suite 210)


Regular hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Be sure to stop by Exile in Bookville, which is welcoming Puppet Hub visitors with a special display of books on puppetry, and plenty of copies of the many works of literature being brought to stage all over the city at the 5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, including Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" (Plexus Polaire), Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" (Manual Cinema), Shakespeare's "MacBeth" (La Fille du Laitier) and "Hamlet" (Janni Younge), Vladimir Nabokov's "Invitation to a Beheading" (Rough House Theater Co.), and Mário de Andrade's "Macunaíma" (Pigmalião Escultura que Mexe).


SYMPOSIUM AND WORKSHOPS


Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium
Presented by the School of the Art Institute Performance Dept. and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
Fine Arts Building, Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Free
In person and streaming via HowlRound

Boundless Bodies
Saturday, January 21, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

The puppet body can be an extension of the puppeteer's body or a separate object that forces us to negotiate with matter that is distinct from our human bodies. Ishmael Falke (Invisible Lands), Camille Trouvé (R.A.G.E.) and Elise Vigneron (Anywhere) explore how human consciousness might transcend the boundaries of our own bodies, and how connections to our love objects are not limited by time or space.


Grand Narratives and Petits Récits


Saturday, January 21, 1-3 p.m.

The shows represented in this panel use performing objects as narrative agents to challenge the grand narratives and petits récits we tell ourselves in our attempts to make sense of our lives. Featuring Sarah Fornace (Frankenstein), Michael Brown (Invitation to a Beheading) and Theodora Skipitares (Grand Panorama).


Maya: the Uses of Illusion


Saturday, January 28, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.

In their shows, Eduardo Felix (Macunaíma Gourmet), Jannie Younge (Hamlet), Jonathan Meyer (as though your body were right) and Michaela Homolová (Choo. Choo. Whistle. Woof!) use performing objects to un-mask the grandiose obsessions of the human ego and make space for the enchantment of vibrant matter in our perception of reality.


Building New Worlds: Emerging Voices


Saturday, January 28, 1-3 p.m.

This panel, composed of recently graduated, current graduate students and artist scholars, presents the work they created in programs focusing on puppetry and/or the performing object. Felicia Cooper from University of Connecticut, Camille Casemier from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Claudia Kinahan from Northwestern University, and Yiwen Wu from the University of Chicago join moderator Dr. Dassia N. Posner.


Stay tuned for details about hands-on workshops, led by visiting festival artists. Some will be presented in their assigned venues so they can show their puppets. Others will happen in the festival's education space in the Fine Arts Building, Room 433.

CATAPULT ARTIST INTENSIVE


The Catapult Artist Intensive returns with two professional development weekends designed to advance the form and expand understanding of the field of puppetry in the United States.

Experience the Chicago Puppet Festival how founder and artistic director Blair Thomas says "I'd like to attend a festival." Each weekend, practicing artists of all disciplines are taken on a three-day, curated, guided experience of festival programming. Join an intimate cohort, escorted by a professional leader, for discussions, a performance workshop, backstage access to the shows and more. Each immersive weekend includes eight performances, with symposiums and local transportation.

Session One, January 20-22, is led by Samuel J. Lewis II and includes Anywhere, Moby Dick, Squirrel Stole My Underpants, Grand Panorama, Invisible Lands, R.A.G.E. and two nights of Nasty, Brutish & Short.

Session Two, January 27-29, is led by Grace Needlman and includes Macunaíma Gourmet, Akutagawa, Invitation to a Beheading, Choo. Choo. Whistle. Woof!, Frankenstein, Dogugaeshi and two nights of Nasty, Brutish & Short.

Registration is $590 per weekend, including some meals. Limited capacity. Scholarships available. Hotel not included. Go to chicagopuppetfest.org/catapult for the full schedule and to sign up.

THE WARWICK ALLERTON HOTEL CHICAGO - OFFICIAL HOTEL OF THE CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL PUPPET THEATER FESTIVAL


Discounted lodging is available with promo code PUPPETFEST2023 at The Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago, 701 N. Michigan Ave. on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, the Official Hotel of the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival. Visit warwickhotels.com/warwick-allerton-chicago or call (312) 440-1500 to reserve.

ONLINE

Visit chicagopuppetfest.org for tickets and information about the 5th Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival, and sign up for the festival's e-news.

Follow the festival on Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo or Twitter, hashtag #ChiPuppetFest.

FESTIVAL PARTNERS

Festival partners in 2023 include Art on Sedgwick/Marshall Field Garden Apartments, Chicago Children's Theatre, Chicago Public Library, The Chopin Theatre, The DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Exile in Bookville, FACE Foundation, the Fine Arts Building, French Cultural Services of the Consulate of France, the Fine Arts Building, Links Hall, Rough House Theater Co., Manual Cinema, MCA Chicago, Navy Pier, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Spoke & Bird Cafe, Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago and Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago.




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