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


working from an original script by Michael Montenegro

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is partnering with Theatre Y of North Lawndale to present this original work of puppet theater developed with youth from Chicago’s West side, North Lawndale local Marvin Tate, puppetry artisan Michael Montenegro, and the Firehouse Community Arts Center. Theatre Y is a Chicago-based international incubator that creates connections between diverse artists seeking mutual growth through collaboration. In Little Carl, the company’s Youth Ensemble grapples with the difficult issue of gun violence by creating a dream play using puppets, masks, and poetry, making beautiful imagery as an antidote to despair. With an extraordinary set of tools and support from veteran masters of their craft, members of the youth program have steered the project, creating each aspect of the vision, while maintaining a critical distance from the work to protect them from re-traumatization or any feelings of exploitation.


Youth Ensemble

Richard Bonds

Christopher Bonds

Jada Dunkatell

Javon Dunkentell

Roesha Townsel

Braniah Townsel

Dereka Smith

Adult Ensemble

Nadia Pillay

Terreon Collins

Michael MontenegroPlaywright/Co-Director/ Puppet maker

Marvin TateFeatured Artist

Melissa Lorraine – Co-Director 

Emily BraggProduction Assistant




Michael MontenegroPlaywright/Co-Director/ Puppet maker (he/him): it has been such an honor and a privilege to work with these young people with enormous emerging talent and with Theatre Y, a very courageous and compassionate group of artists. 

He is artistic director of Theatre Zarko which has presented for Chicago audiences original puppet theater plays such as: He Who, Haff (The Man), Sublime Beauty of Hands, Klown Kantos, and Iktu Blas.

For over thirty years, puppet artist Michael Montenegro has been developing his unique style of puppet and mask theater in the Chicago community both as a solo artist and as a collaborator with different theater groups.  Commissioned projects include: Argonautica with Lookingglass Theatre, directed by Mary Zimmerman, The War With the Newts and The Long Christmas Ride Home with Next Theatre , and The Puppetmaster of Lodz with Writer’s Theatre which garnered a Jeff Award for Puppet Design. In addition to Little Carl, he has created a film entitled Apparaticus in collaboration with Theatre Y.

Marvin TateFeatured Artist (he/him): is a Chicago Legend and Renaissance man, born and raised in North Lawndale, known locally, nationally, and internationally for his contribution to poetry, spoken word, visual art, and experimental music. Tate is Theater Y’s first Artist in Residence. His poems, songs, and performances have been heard/seen  on NPR and BBC Radio, Def-Jam Poetry, the Berlin Jazz Festival, Vision Fest (NYC and Philadelphia), Amsterdam, Paris, and London. Tate’s latest output, ‘Marvin Tate’s D-settlement’ is a 3-Box Set vinyl record collection on American Dream Records that chronicles the bands music from 1997-03. The Boxset was voted the ‘Best of’ in the New York Times, WIRE, Magazine, and Band camp. 

Melissa Lorraine – Co-Director (she/her): Theatre Y Co-Founding Artistic Director – Born in France, graduating from Northern Illinois University with a B.F.A. in acting, Lorraine became a company member of Studio K in Budapest, Hungary. Co-founding Theatre Y with now deceased Director Christopher Markle. Premiered the English language version of Transylvanian writer András Visky’s JULIET with over two hundred performances worldwide. Starred in Visky’s I KILLED MY MOTHER, earning a Chicago’s Best Actress Orgie Award. Lauded by The Chicago Reader for turning even an “overwritten” and “implausible script” into “probing, harrowing, hallucinogenic truth,” for her Directorial work on VINCENT RIVER. In 2013 Lorraine directed the world premiere of THE BINDING, a collaboration between Theatre Y and two acclaimed Serbian/Hungarian choreographers, which was a cover feature of the Chicago Reader. Collaborating with Georges Bigot for one year (2015-16), Lorraine developed the Theatre Y Ensemble of 12 actors, according to the traditions of the Theatre du Soleil. She now leads this ensemble to discover a common language and a new way to work, searching for a way to make theater without the “dictator”. In 2018 she began to research Movement Therapy for Trauma Rehabilitation, and works with men serving life sentences at Stateville Correctional Center towards reinstating parole in Illinois.

Emily BraggProduction Assistant (she/her): has been a company member of Theatre Y since 2019 and is excited to remount Little Carl at the International Puppet Theatre Festival. She wants to thank the festival and the wonderful team that collaborated to make this production possible. 

Richard BondsYouth Ensemble (he/his): Richard wants you to know two things: One is that he is nice and the other is that he likes meeting new people. Enjoy!

Nadia PillayAdult Ensemble (she/her): Nadia Pillay is a Chicago-based actress and company member with Theatre Y. Nadia made her Co-Directing debut, in The Wiz Walk Camino. She was last seen as the Wicked Witch in the Wiz Walk as well as Jeff Recommended production of We Are Proud to Present. Nadia is a company member of MPAACT Theatre, and Proboscis Theatre, and serves as Artist Liaison for Color Me Africa Fine Arts.

Roesha TownselYouth Ensemble (They/Them): Has been a part of Theatre Y for a little over a year now. They enjoy acting as they get to express themselves in a more powerful way than they ever have before. They were also a part of Theatre Y’s walking play Laughing Song during the summer of 2022. They also love dancing and crafting.

Braniah Townsel (Niah)- Youth Ensemble (she/her) : most recently performed as Doro in Theatre Y’s The Wiz Walk. Niah is now a freshman in high school. She currently goes to Chicago Tech Academy. Niah is looking forward to becoming a professional actress because of her experience with Theatre Y. Niah is very excited to pursue her career choice. Niah’s goal is to be a professional actress by her mid 20’s. Niah’s first performance was in the spring of 2023. She was nervous to take the stage for the first time at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater but she bravely overcame her fear and got a lot of compliments from the audience that inspired her to keep performing. Niah loves to write poetry and is looking forward to continuing to work with Theatre Y to better develop her acting skills. 

Christopher BondsYouth Ensemble (he/his): Is excited to be in Little Carl again. He likes playing games and hanging out with his stuffed animal, Chip. He would like to thank his family, especially his brother Richard, for always being there for him.

Terreon CollinsAdult Ensemble (He/Him): is a new addition to Theatre Y. Considering he’s only been acting for a year, he is already Jeff recommended for his first on stage production of Theatre Y’s We Are Proud to Present… He comes from the North Lawndale community in Chicago where he’s self-taught in many talents including his acting.

Dereka SmithYouth Ensemble (she/her): Hi, my name is Dereka and I’m a part of Theatre Y’s 2023 production of Little Carl. Theater Y is one of the amazing programs that all kids or families can enjoy. They are welcoming, patient, and friendly. You don’t have to be scared to do you or share your ideas here. All ideas are accepted. They are one of the best programs I have worked with yet. Everyone is a part of everything we do. No one ever feels left out, you can express yourself, and be who you are. If you’re like me and don’t like to waste your time, this program is the place to be. We make the best of everything. If you join, I thank you because we want more kids and adults to express themselves with other individuals.




Theatre Y is a Chicago-based international incubator that creates connections between diverse artists seeking mutual growth through collaboration. Since 2006, Theatre Y has been a point of convergence for diverse activisms, and all of the uncomfortable conversations that happen as a result. Artistic director Melissa Lorraine and the Theatre Y ensemble are committed to continuously re-thinking the practice of theater as a tool of liberation and a revolutionary practice, bringing Theatre Y to venues ranging from LaMaMa’s historical theater to Illinois prisons. Theatre Y, which is now in its 17th year of experimental productions, challenging international content, and a member-based FREE theater model, occupies a unique place in Chicago’s theater community. 

Theatre Y productions are offered to the public free of charge thanks to their NPR-like membership model: BECOME A MEMBER: 

Theatre Y’s new space at 3611 W. Cermak Rd.    

More about Theatre Y:

email, or call 773-908-2248. 

Special Thanks:

Theatre Y

Steve Bynum, Theatre Y Board President and WBEZ Producer

Theatre Y Board of Directors, past and present! 

Haman Cross III

Phil Jackson, The Firehouse Community Arts Center

Patricia McMillan

Arnie and Carol Kanter, Innovation 80

Ebony Chuukwu and Meg Leary, The Walder Foundation 

Henry Wilkinson

Sharon Udoh

Evan Hill

Michael Montenegro

Marvin Tate

Alderwoman Monique Scott

Alderman Michael Rodriguez

Emily Bragg

Marissa Chavez

Brian Biederman

Rachelle Zola

Chuck Michalek

…and to everyone at the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival!