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Chicago International Puppet Festival announces lineup

By Hedy Weiss
Arts, Entertainment & the Daily Sizzle

They are headed our way: the marionettes, shadow puppets, Bunraku puppets, tiny toy puppets, innovative contemporary puppets and countless other alter egos encompassed by puppet art.

The Chicago International Puppet Festival, running Jan. 14-25 on the stages of multiple venues citywide, has announced its action-packed lineup that will showcase international, U.S. and Chicago puppet shows and artists. Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the 11-day will present an eclectic array of puppet styles with nearly 50 different performances and a dozen puppet theater acts from around the globe, presented by 10 of Chicago’s top cultural institutions who are partnering with the festival.

International acts include: Blind Summit’s “The Table” (see photo above) and Nick Steur in “Freeze!” at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre; Laurent Bigot in “Le Petit Cirque” at Adventure Stage Chicago, co-presented with the Chicago Humanities Festival; Stan’s Cafe’s “The Cardinals” at the Museum of Contemporary Art; and Daniel Barrow in “The Thief of Mirrors” at the Storefront Theater.

Visiting U.S. artists include: Sandglass Theater’s “D-Generation: An Exaltation of Larks” at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago; Chinese Theater Works’ “Rich in Tradition – Chinese Shadow Puppets” at the Field Museum; “Modern Toy Theatre” of David Commander at The Neo- Futurists; and “In The Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre: Puppet Pageantry” at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

Representing the host city Chicago are Manual Cinema’s “Mementos Mori” at the Museum of Contemporary Art; a puppet-centric “Dozin’ with the Dinos” sleepover followed by an Open Mic Puppets day hosted by Jabberwocky Marionettes at the Field Museum; Family Festival: Puppets! an all-ages drop-in festival at the Art Institute of Chicago with performances of Bullooney Puppetworks’ “The Metamorphosis Box”; Blair Thomas & Co.’s “The Selfish Giant” at Chicago Children’s Theatre/Ruth Page Center for the Arts; FlipFlap Productions’ “The Temp” at the Logan Center for the Arts; and “Nasty, Brutish & Short Presents…,” a showcase of Chicago’s rich puppet scene through five unique cabarets of puppet and object theater at Links Hall, as well as a late-night International Puppet Slam featuring the riskier short-form work of the festival’s visiting artists.

“We are thrilled that more than a dozen Chicago presenting organizations have joined together to ignite the spirit of this citywide event,” said Blair Thomas, festival founder and artistic director in a prepared statement. “Today, puppetry is a living and thriving art, and the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is a celebration of its many forms. I hope those whose imaginations are curious, and whose hearts are young will join us. And for those who have yet to see a contemporary puppet show, I can guarantee it will be like nothing you have ever seen before.”

Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival’s website is rich in detail with information about each show and its performance schedule, ticketing, prices and more. Visit

Social media updates about visiting artists from around the globe who will be leading free, hands-on workshops, panel discussions and special presentations on the history and craft of puppetry can be found at And you can follow the festival on Twitter, @ChiPuppetFest.

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