Join us for the next Festival: January 15-26, 2025

2022 Free Neighborhood Tour

Free Neighborhood Tour: Fostering an Appreciation of Puppetry Throughout the City

The Free Neighborhood Tour fosters an appreciation for puppetry throughout the city by bringing free, family-friendly performances to locations outside of Chicago’s theaters, but areas in the city where people may not have the chance to see puppetry very often. The tour offers a range of high-quality puppetry styles in order to create moments of community enjoyment while expanding the base of puppet enthusiasts. This year, three nationally acclaimed puppet artists - Ty Defoe, Jerrell L. Henderson, and Joshua Holden - will tour to five locations around the city to present short works. Seats are first come first serve. Performances are free and open to all ages.

Dates and Locations

Thursday, January 20 at 4:30 p.m.
Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
4048 W. Armitage Ave. in Hermosa

Friday, January 21, 4:30 p.m.
Art on Sedgwick, Marshall Field Garden Apartments
1408 N. Sedgwick St. in Old Town

Saturday, January 22 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Navy Pier
700 E. Grand Ave. in downtown Chicago

Sunday, January 23 at 11 a.m.

National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 W. 19th St. in Pilsen

Sunday, January 23 at 4 p.m.
345 Art Gallery
345 N. Kedzie Ave. in Humboldt Park


Eagle Dance by Ty Defoe (Wisconsin and New York)
Inspired by the wisdom gained from eagles, this dance embraces the interconnectedness of all living things; the two legged, the four legged, the winged, the finned, and the rooted. Stemming from the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee teachings, this movement honors the past, celebrates the present, and provides inspiration for future generations. Grammy Award winner Ty Defoe is a writer, actor and interdisciplinary artist of the Oneida and Ojibwe Nations of Wisconsin. Defoe co-created with IBEX Puppetry the unforgettable 2019 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival opening production, Ajijaak on Turtle Island, an eco-focused, First Nation origin story and spectacle that featured giant animal puppets and performers of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations.

Photo Alan Shi

I Am the Bear by Jerrell L. Henderson (Chicago)
A wintery morning. A walk to work. A curious encounter. A terrifying exchange. An allegory of what it means to be Black in America. Chicago’s Jerrell L. Henderson performs I Am the Bear, based on his experience being racially profiled by police on Chicago’s North Shore. Henderson is a director, puppeteer, and an assistant professor of performance studies. Directing credits include Mlima’s Tale with Griffin Theatre (Jeff Award Nominations, Direction and Best Play, Thurgood with Walnut Street Theatre and The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show at Chicago Children’s Theatre.

The Joshua Show by Joshua Holden (New York)
With live music by Jeb Cowell 
Joshua Holden debuted The Joshua Show at Nasty, Brutish & Short in Chicago in 2012. He then took it to the Puppeteers of America’s National Festival, where it was awarded “Best Performance” and “Fan Favorite.” He has been touring the show internationally ever since. “An unabashed ambassador of joy” (New York Times), Holden also performed in the national tour of Avenue Q, was lead puppeteer in Peter Pan 360, and worked with Banksy on Sirens of the Lambs. He currently lives in Brooklyn and works for The Jim Henson Company as a puppet wrangler on Sesame Street.