The 2024 Festival has concluded—thanks to all who joined us!

Fall 2023 Workshops

Announcing Fall Puppetry Workshops!

Take a live online workshop from anywhere in the world, or join us for new, in-person workshops at the Fine Arts Building in downtown Chicago! Whether you choose a 1-week intensive, or you prefer 1 night a week over several weeks, these workshops offer a range of puppetry styles including Shadow, Toy Theater, Hand Puppet Techniques and more with expert instruction to create within a fun, communal format. Live work sessions, group sharing and personal feedback combine to make these some of the most enjoyable and productive workshop opportunities available. See below to select your course and register!

Find the Perfect workshop for you!

One Week Online Workshops

Shadow Puppetry I (Level 1)

with Chinese Theatre Works

October 23-29, 2023
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $225

Shadow Puppetry 1 (Level 1) is an introduction to the form for the beginning puppeteer. Students will create a desktop shadow theater, build and create basic shadow figures and environments and devise their own short pieces with music or text. An overview of world shadow puppetry traditions is included as well as an introduction to light sources and fabrication. The course makes use of basic materials including home recyclables.

Toy Theater I (Level 1)

with Roberto Rossi

October 16-22, 2023
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $225

Toy Theater 1 (Level 1) is an introduction to the form and the basic skills concluding with a showing. Make your first toy theater stage using recyclable materials. Learn conceptual and design approaches in building an original work. Build basic jointed 2D puppets and moveable set pieces and discover the unique theatrical language of the Toy Theater.

Multi-Week Online Workshops

50 Hand Puppet Techniques (Level 1)

with Chad Williams

October 30 – December 4, 2023
(6 sessions over 6 weeks)
Mondays: 6 – 8pm CDT
Cost: $285

50 Hand Puppet Techniques (Level 1) is great for beginners or puppetry pros! Participants will create their own hand puppets and learn the best techniques and secrets from a hand puppetry expert. Each week we will build, play, learn, and perform! Puppeteer Chad Williams incorporates moves from Chinese Bu Dai Xi, European glove puppetry, and other traditions into his modern style.

Shadow Puppetry II (Level 2)

with Chinese Theatre Works

November 7-19 , 2023
(5 sessions over 2 weeks)
Tuesday, Nov 7; Thursday, Nov 9; Tuesday, Nov 14; Thursday, Nov 16; and Sunday Nov 19:
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $225

Shadow Puppetry 2 (Level 2) is an advanced course of the exploration of light, object, sound and moving image. Participants will conceive, craft and perform their own shadow work, using both traditional techniques, contemporary digital projection and lighting technology.

Toy Theater II (Level 2)​

with Roberto Rossi

November 7-19 , 2023
(5 sessions over 2 weeks)
Tuesday, Nov 7; Thursday, Nov 9; Tuesday, Nov 14; Thursday, Nov 16; and Sunday Nov 19:
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $225

Toy Theater 2 (Level 2) will be an opportunity for participants to further develop their shows. We will be exploring different ways of articulating and mounting puppets and of enhancing the illusion of depth through stage design and lighting. We will also look at the dramaturgy of the miniature spectacle and isolate the compositional elements of this highly visual theater form as participants prepare for an informal—yet always exciting—showing on the last day.

In-Person Workshops

Masterclass with Michael Montenegro

November 12, 2023
Saturday: 10am – 1pm CDT

Cost: $60

Location: Fine Arts Building
410 S. Michigan Ave, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605

The goal is to discover (or re-discover) perhaps the most potent antidote one can find to our gloomy “matter of factness.” Can the magic of the puppet in its crazy wildness, in its rudeness, and in its sublime madness reignite our vital spirit of rebellion?

In three hours we will build puppet figures, rehearse short vignettes, paint scenery, and share with each other. We will work in small groups of two and three. We will film the results so that everyone will have a record of the work.

The Flat Lab: Innovating Paper Puppets with Modern Tech (All Levels)

with Myra Su

October 4-21, 2023
(5 sessions over 3 weeks)
Wednesdays: 6 – 8pm and Saturdays: 10am – 12pm CDT*

*There is no class on Saturday, October 7th.

Cost: $225

Location: Fine Arts Building
410 S. Michigan Ave, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60605

The Flat Lab: Innovating Paper Puppets with Modern Tech (all levels, IN-PERSON) is an opportunity to learn from director, designer, and puppeteer—Myra Su. She will share all the tools in her arsenal in creating multimedia puppet shows and streamlining puppet fabrication. Participants will learn how to use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to digitize hand-drawn shadow puppet designs that can then be put through a cutting machine. The class will also explore ways to integrate video and cameras with crankies and other paper-based puppet forms. Finally, participants will put these skills to practice in developing their own short scenes to be presented on the final day of class. This workshop is suited for people interested in 2D puppetry for either the stage or film animation.

Realizing Your Puppet Slam Act (All Levels)

with Vanessa Valliere

Realizing Your Puppet Slam Act (All Levels) is for people who want to make a solo act with puppets. It is intended both for people who have a zygote of an idea already and for those who are looking for a way into the process of generating something new. The focus will be on creating work as well as fine tuning presentation and performance. Over the course of 6 weeks, students will create a three to five minute piece that will be suitable for presentation, or will simply be the stepping stone to longer works. There will be an emphasis on pursuing the elements of the work that bring you joy.

Please Note:

  • Pricing listed below with each workshop.
  • Limited scholarships available upon request, BIPOC encouraged to apply. To request email info@chicagopuppetfest.org with a brief statement of interest/need.

Guide to Levels

Level 1 – Introduction of a particular form, through its basic skills and elements. Ideal for all new to puppetry and those looking to refresh their foundational knowledge.
Level 2 – Offering applied foundational skills and techniques for a specific form. Ideal for those who have some experience working in the form.
Level 3 – Instruction of more advanced skills and techniques for emerging and experienced puppeteers.

Level 4 – Instruction supporting the use of puppetry to create or progress a short form work.
Level 5 – Ideal for artists who are expert in their respective artistic field. These offerings frequently have an application and selection process, are by invitation and are designed to take a work in development to the next level.