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

Fall 2021 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, 3D Fabrication, Crankies, and Pop Up Books 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.

View Schedule [PDF]

Please Note:

— Pricing listed below with each workshop ($185-$285).

— Limited scholarships available upon request, BIPOC encouraged to apply. To request email info@chicagopuppetfest.org with a brief statement of interest/need.

— There will be no classes held the week of Thanksgiving: November 22-28.

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.

Find the Perfect workshop for you!

One-Week Online Workshops

Toy Theater I + II

with Roberto Rossi

Session 1: October 4-10, 2021
Toy Theater 1 (Level 1)
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Session 2: November 1-7, 2021
Toy Theater 2 (Level 2)
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Toy Theater 1 (Level 1) is an introduction to the form and 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 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 + II

with Linda Wingerter

Session 1: October 4-10, 2021
Shadow Puppetry 1 (Level 1) with Instructor TBC
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Session 1: October 4-10, 2021
Shadow Puppetry 2 (Level 2) with Linda Wingerter
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Session 2: November 1-7, 2021
Shadow Puppetry 2 (Level 2) with Linda Wingerter
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

Experiments in Light & Shadow: 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. 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.

Crankie Scroll I

with Myra Su

Session 1: October 4-10, 2021
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $225

This workshop serves as an introduction to the crankie from a performative approach. Participants will learn basic construction tips and tricks as well as a cinematic framework to help storyboard and choreograph a crankie piece. We will also touch upon other performative elements that work well with crankies, like shadow puppets and acting in silhouette. The workshop culminates in a sharing of work by the participants.

Multi-Week Online Workshops

Storyboarding for Puppets (Theater and Film) (Level 2)

with Sarah Fornace and Drew Dir of Manual Cinema

November 12 – December 10, 2021
(4 weeks)
Fridays: 2 – 4pm CST
Cost: $185

In this class, we will cover storyboarding for puppetry for both live theatre and film/video projects. We will look at Manual Cinema storyboards, animatics, and videos in order to share what we have learned over the years. Participants will make their own (very) short storyboards for both a live piece and a video piece.

Puppetry and Technology: Live Feed Video, Projection and the Isadora MultiMedia Interface (Level 3)

with Tom Lee

October 12 – November 16, 2021
(6 weeks)
Tuesdays: 7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $285

This class is an introduction to the use of cameras, video and digital performance techniques for puppetry. Director/designer Tom Lee will lead the class in examples of digital performance forms, including his own work that combines live puppetry, miniatures and projection. In addition, the instructor will teach fundamentals of the Isadora digital interface, software essential to creating his stage work.

Requirements:

  • Desktop or laptop computer (Mac platform preferred: Computer must be able to support Isadora 3 below)
  • external USB camera or internal camera
  • Isadora 3 (monthly rental available at $17.50)


Optional software/hardware:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe After Effects
  • External Monitor or Video Projector

History of Object Performance in the Black Atlantic (Level 1)

with Paulette Richards

October 12 – December 14, 2021
(8 weeks)
Tuesdays: 6 – 7:30pm CST
Cost: $285

Beginning with New World masquerade traditions such as Pinksters, Caribbean Carnival celebrations, and New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians, we will examine object performance as a powerful tool Black people have used effectively for education and community building. Academics will receive resources to enhance their teaching and research with information about a little known aspect of American Theater History. Practitioners will find plentiful opportunities to draw creative inspiration from culturally specific sources such as African American folk tales, Afro-Caribbean masquerade characters, and canonical stories about African divinities. Lifelong learners are invited to engage with a unique perspective on current discussions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the theater industry by exploring the careers of African American artists who have used object performance as a strategy of resistance to the objectification of Black bodies.

In-Person Workshops

Sanninzukai: An Introduction to 3 Person Puppet Manipulation (Level 1)

with Tom Lee

November 5 – 7, 2021
(Weekend Intensive)
Friday: 6 – 9:30pm; Saturday: 10am – 3pm; and Sunday: 10am – 3pm
Cost: $285

Sanninzukai translates literally as “Three Person Movement” This course is an introduction to multi operator puppetry based on traditional Japanese techniques. Designer/Director/Puppeteer Tom Lee will introduce the form through a training puppet gifted to him by his teacher Master Koryū Nishikawa V. Introduction to the traditional form will springboard into contemporary techniques for multi-operator puppetry with contemporary rehearsal figures.

Requirements: This course requires full body movement and clothes appropriate to movement. Black clothes are preferred.

Pop Up Book as Stage Design (Level 1)

with Jaerin Son

November 2 – December 14, 2021
(6 weeks)
Tuesdays: 7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $285

This class introduces pop-up book paper designs as a technique for puppet theater set design. The revelation of each turned page in the pop-up book is translated into a revelation in puppet stage design. This technique enables the creation of a variety of easily transportable backgrounds.

Jaerin Son is our first international instructor and a native Korean speaker using English as a second language, so there will be extra emphasis on visual instruction during this particular class.

6 Heads & 6 Material Techniques (Level 2)

with Mark Blashford

November 3 – December 15, 2021
(6 weeks)
Wednesdays: 7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $285

This course is for the puppet craftsperson. Learn invaluable professional techniques in sculpture, mold-making, and casting through the process of creating expressive, stage-ready puppet heads.

Techniques include: Cardboard Sculpture; Papier Mache; Foam Carving; Neoprene Casting; Worbla; New/found Materials.