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Fall 2022 Workshops

Announcing Fall Puppetry Workshops!

Take a live online workshop from anywhere in the world, or join us for 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 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

Please Note:

— Pricing listed below with each workshop 

— Limited scholarships available upon request, BIPOC encouraged to apply. To request email 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.

Just Announced: Special Masterclass with Koryū Nishikawa V

Kuruma Ningyō Puppetry Masterclass

A 160 year old puppetry form with 5th generation Master Koryū Nishikawa V

Sunday, November 6, 2022
1pm – 4pm CST
Cost: $60

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

This rare event will allow participants to experience one of the world’s most unique puppetry forms from Japanese Master Koryū Nishikawa V.  The kuruma ningyō or cart puppetry form is a 160-year tradition related to the famous Bunraku tradition.  However, instead of three puppeteers per puppet, in kuruma ningyō a single puppeteer operates a fully articulate puppet figure using a small rolling cart and ingenious puppetry controls. Easy to experience but difficult to master, Koryū Nishikawa will explain the history of kuruma ningyō within the larger traditions of puppetry in Japan. Participants will have an opportunity to operate traditional and contemporary puppet figures with guidance from the master and assistance from Chicago based puppet artist Tom Lee.

Find the Perfect workshop for you!

One-Week Online Workshops

Toy Theater I

with Roberto Rossi

Session 1: October 3-9, 2022
Toy Theater 1 (Level 1)
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

with Roberto Rossi

Session 2: November 7-13, 2022
Toy Theater 2 (Level 2)
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

with Chinese Theatre Works

Session 1: October 3-9, 2022
Shadow Puppetry 1 (Level 1) 
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.

Shadow Puppetry II

with Linda Wingerter

Session 2: November 7-13, 2022
Shadow Puppetry 2 (Level 2) 
Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun:
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.

Multi-Week Online Workshop

Selected Topics in African American Object Performance (All Levels)

with Dr. Paulette Richards

October 11, 18, 25, November 1, 8, 15, 29, December 6
(8 sessions)
Tuesdays: 6 – 7:30pm CST
Cost: $285

*Please note, the dates of this class has recently changed. Please double check dates listed above.

Selected Topics in African American Object Performance (All Levels), taught by Paulette Richards, co-curator of the Living Objects: African American Puppetry exhibit, will begin in the Jim Crow era examining object performance as a powerful tool Black people have used effectively for education and community building. This iteration of the workshop will cover:
  • Black puppeteers and blackface material characters
  • African American puppet film
  • African American puppetry on social media
  • African American puppetry and political activism
  • Dolls as performing objects
  • African Americans and the development of audiences for puppetry in the U.S.
  • Carnival circuits
  • Contemporary African puppetry and object performance

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 contemporary African American puppet theater artists, filmmakers, and visual artists. 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

Pop-up Book for Stage Design (Level 1)

with Jaerin Son

October 4, 11, 18, 25, November 1, and 8, 2022
(6 sessions)
Tuesdays: 7 – 9pm CST
Cost: $285

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

Pop-up Book for Stage Design (Level 1) 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.

Creating a Solo Act with Puppets (All Levels)

with Vanessa Valliere

October 19, 26, November 2, 9, and 16, 2022*
(5 sessions)

Wednesdays: 6 – 8pm CST
Cost: $225

*Please note, this has been changed to a 5 session class. There will be no class on November 23rd as previously listed.

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

Creating a Solo Act with Puppets (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.