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

Spring 2024 Workshops

Announcing Spring 2024 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, Toy Theater, Hand Puppet Techniques and more 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. See below to select your course and register!

Find the Perfect workshop for you!

One Week Online Workshops

Shadow Puppetry I (Level 1)

with Chinese Theatre Works

April 15-21, 2024
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $250

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.

Toy Theater I (Level 1)

with Roberto Rossi

April 1-7, 2024
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $250

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 (Level 2)

with Roberto Rossi

April 8-14, 2024
1 week: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat, and Sun
7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $250

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.

Multi-Week Online Workshops

150 Hand Puppet Techniques (Level 1)

with Chad Williams

March 11 – April 15
6 sessions over 6 weeks: 
Mondays: 6 – 8pm CDT
Cost: $300

150 Hand Puppet Techniques (Level 1) is great for beginners or puppetry pros! Participants will create their own hand puppets and learn the best techniques and secrets from a hand puppetry expert. Each week we will build, play, learn, and perform! Puppeteer Chad Williams incorporates moves from Chinese Bu Dai Xi, European glove puppetry, and other traditions into his modern style.

Shadow Puppetry II (Level 2)

with Linda Wingerter

April 24 and 25 and May 1, 2, 3
5 sessions over 2 weeks:
Wed, Thurs, and Fri: 7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $250

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.

Cardboard Sculpting

with Tarish "Jeghetto" Pipkins

March 5, 7, 12, 14, 19 and 21 
6 sessions over 2 weeks:
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7 – 9pm CDT
Cost: $300

In Cardboard Sculpting (Level 1) you will learn to sculpt and build a puppet out of cardboard with master puppeteer and builder Tarish “Jeghetto” Pipkins. Jeghetto’s unique style integrates functional puppet armatures and controls with a variety of found materials. Think outside the cardboard box by creating a rod puppet with it. Jeghetto will share his unique building techniques as well as manipulating your creation.

In-Person Workshops

Full Bodied Puppetry (All Levels)

with Lindsey Noel Whiting

March 6, 9, 13, 16, 20 and 23
6 sessions over 3 weeks:
Wednesdays: 6:30-8:30pm CDT
Saturdays 12-2pm CDT
Cost: $300

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

Full Bodied Puppetry (All Levels) draws from a wide range of movement practices to help connect participants with their body and ground their puppetry in truthful physical impulse. If movement is the language of puppetry, this is a creative writing course. Lindsey Noel Whiting will draw on her extensive background in circus, physical theater, puppetry, and clown to explore physical movement fundamentals that will allow participants to connect to their puppetry on a whole new level.

Realizing Your Puppet Slam Act (All Levels)

with Vanessa Valliere

April 3, 6, 10, 13, 17 and 20 
6 sessions over 3 weeks:
Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm CDT
Saturdays 12-2pm CDT
Cost: $300

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

Realizing Your Puppet Slam Act (All Levels) is for people who want to make a short solo act with puppets. We will explore a wide range of options for generating, writing, directing and performing your own work; students will be encouraged to try all of their best and worst ideas. We will incorporate elements of clown to further our understanding of stage presence and tackle some of the common obstacles that get in the way of making new work. Over the course of six classes, students will create a three to five minute piece that will be suitable for presentation, or will simply be the stepping stone to longer work. Most importantly, there will be an emphasis on pursuing the elements of the work that bring you joy.

Sanninzukai: An Introduction to 3 Person Puppet Manipulation

with Tom Lee

March 17
1 session:
Sunday: 10am – 5pm (with 1 hour lunch break)
Cost: $150

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

Sanninzukai: An Introduction to 3 Person Puppet Manipulation (Level 1) is an introduction to multi operator puppetry based on traditional Japanese techniques. (Sanninzukai translates literally as “Three Person Movement.”) 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.

Please Note:

  • Pricing listed below with each workshop.
  • Limited scholarships available upon request, BIPOC encouraged to apply. To request email info@chicagopuppetfest.org 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.