by Hedy Weiss
Make way for the marionettes, the shadow puppets, the tiny toy puppets, the Bunraku puppets and the animated objects that behave like puppets. The biannual Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival – flying back on the strings of its successful inaugural outing in 2015 – is set to return to Chicago stages in expanded form this winter, running Jan. 19-29, 2017.
Celebrating the full breadth of the art of contemporary puppetry, the 10-day festival, established by Chicago master puppeteer Blair Thomas, is designed to to celebrate and cultivate Chicago’s growing reputation as a leader in the renaissance of the art of puppetry, with performances slated for Chicago’s top cultural institutions, both large and small, throughout the city.
The 2017 coalition of Puppet Festival presenting partners, each participating in next year’s festival by presenting local, national and international puppet artists and companies that sync up with their own programming, include: Adventure Stage Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, Beverly Arts Center, the Center for Community Arts Partnerships at Columbia College, Chicago Children’s Theatre, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, The House Theatre of Chicago, the League of Chicago Theatres, Links Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art, The Neo-Futurists, the University of Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts and the University of Chicago’s Richard and Mary L. Grey Center for Arts and Inquiry.
In addition to public performances, visiting artists from around the globe will lead free, hands-on workshops, panel discussions, family drop-in events, late night Puppet Slams and special presentations on the history and craft of puppetry. The festival also will host a concurrent scholarly conference for international artists and scholars devoted to advancing scholarship and research in the field of puppetry. New this year will be the “Catapult Fellowship Program,” a special initiative catering to visiting artists and presenters who will come to Chicago and enjoy a curated, four-day experience including performances, workshops, meals and special events.
Details of the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theatre Festival line-up of local and visiting puppet artists and companies will be announced this summer.