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

by Morgan Greene

The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will return this January to venues all over Chicago with performances from more than 25 artists from seven different countries.

International acts include: France’s Plexus Polaire’s “Cendres (Ashes)” (Jan. 19-22), inspired by a Norwegian arsonist; Silencio Blanco’s “Chiflon el Silencio del Carbon (Chiflon Silence of the Coal)” (Jan. 19-22), a silent journey through one of Chile’s most dangerous coal mines; “7ways” (Jan. 21-22) by South Korea’s Geumhyung Jeong, a dance-puppetry piece that brings life to inanimate objects; “Future Crash: a collision of short work by Vincent de Rooij and The Neo-Futurists” (Jan. 26-28), a collaboration drawing from de Rooij’s site-specific puppetry; Italy’s Teatro dei Piedi’s “Sonata for 4 Feet” (Jan. 20-21), featuring comedic characters brought to life with appendages; and Montreal’s Theatre Puzzle’s “Plastique (Plastic)” (Jan. 21-22), creating a puppetry plastic-bag world.

Visiting U.S. artists include:”Feathers of Fire: A Persian Epic” (Jan. 26-29), a cinematic shadow play about star-crossed lovers from Iranian-American Hamid Rahmanian; New York’s Great Small Works’ in their Yiddish-English play “Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls” (Jan. 26-28), which revisits the performances of 20th-century puppeteers Zuni Maud and Yosi Cutler; “Narcissister LIVE!” (Jan. 20-21) from the New York based company, featuring mature-audience-only explorations of gender, racial identity and sexuality; and Open Eye Figure Theatre of Minneapolis’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (Jan. 25-27), inspired by a Goethe poem and performed on a marionette stage.

Representing Chicago: Chicago Children’s Theatre and Manual Cinema’s world premiere of “Magic City” (Jan. 27-29), The House Theatre of Chicago’s “Diamond Dogs” (Jan. 19-22, 26-29), Rough House’s “Ubu The King” (Jan. 26-28), Lookingglass Theatre Company’s “Mr. and Mrs. Pennyworth” (Jan. 19-29) with puppets by Blair Thomas, I Gusti Ngurah Kertayuda and the Mandala Ensemble in “Conversation With Devi” (Jan. 21), the Michael Montenegro and Greg Allen collaboration “Kick the Klown Presents a Kakafination of Kafka” (Jan. 19-22), and a drop-in studio showing of Portmanteau’s “T(w)O MARIAS” (Jan. 21-22).

New to the festival this year is the free Festival Neighborhood Tour, featuring 18 performances in six locations with Schroeder Cherry, Montreal’s Magali Chouinard and Detroit-based Interstate Arts. Returning to the festival is “Nasty, Brutish and Short: A Puppet Cabaret,” off-beat weekend showcases co-presented by Rough House.

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