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

Spring 2023 Workshops

Announcing Spring 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, Cardboard Sculpting, Hand Puppetry 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

Toy Theater I (Level 1)

with Roberto Rossi

March 27-April 2, 2023
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CST
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.

Toy Theater II (Level 2)

with Roberto Rossi

April 17-23, 2023
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CST
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.

Shadow Puppetry I (Level 1)

with Chinese Theatre Works

March 20-26, 2023
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CST
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.

Multi-Week Online Workshops

50 Hand Puppet Techniques (Level 1)

with Chad Williams

March 13-April 17, 2023
(6 weeks)
Mondays: 6 – 8pm CST
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.

Cardboard Sculpting (Level 1)

with Tarish Pipkins

May 2-18, 2023
(3 weeks)
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $285

In Cardboard Sculpting (Level 1) you will learn to sculpt and build a puppet out of cardboard with master puppeteer and builder Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins. Jeghetto’s unique style integrates functional puppet armatures and controls with a variety of found materials. Think outside the cardboard box by creating a rod puppet with it. Jeghetto will share his unique building techniques as well as manipulating your creation.

Shadow Puppetry II (Level 2)

with Linda Wingerter

April 5-19, 2023
(5 sessions over 3 weeks)
Wednesday, 4/5; Thursday, 4/6; Wednesday, 4/12; Thursday, 4/13; and Wednesday 4/19:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Shadow Puppetry 2 (Level 2) focuses on the introduction of different mechanism for shadow puppets beyond the basic jointed puppet. The realization of ideas in shadow puppet form stem from concepts and design.

In-Person Workshops

A Miniature Universe:
Intro to Toy Theater (Level 1)

with Blair Thomas

March 16-April 13, 2023
(5 weeks)
Thursdays: 6:30 – 8:30pm CST
Cost: $225

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

A Miniature Universe: Intro to Toy Theater (Level 1, IN PERSON) introduces the technique of conceiving, designing, building and performing a Toy Theater show using found text or original text. Fabrication and Performance experience helpful but not necessary. Participants will complete a short Toy Theater show.

How to Create a Puppet Slam Show (Level 1)

with Alex & Olmsted

April 30, 2023
(4 hours)
Sunday: 10am – 2pm CST
Cost: $80

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

How to Create a Puppet Slam Show (Level 1, IN PERSON) is a workshop for those who would like to learn to create a short form puppet show. This workshop covers idea generation, overcoming writer’s block, refining the idea into a clear story, and then finding how puppetry best serves that story. This workshop includes writing in addition to hands-on exercises. We encourage participants to bring a puppet of their own or an object they may wish to explore within the context of a slam piece.

Overhead Projector Shadow Puppetry (Level 1)

with Manual Cinema

April 8 and 15, 2023
(10 hours over two days)
Saturdays: 10am-4pm CST both days, with a 1 hour lunch
Cost: $225

Location: Manual Cinema Studio
2415 W. 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608

Overhead Projector Shadow Puppetry (Level 1, IN PERSON) is an introduction to Manual Cinema’s shadow puppetry technique using multiple overhead projectors is hosted in the company’s westside studio.

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.