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

The depth of the Chicago winter next year is to be enlivened by the coming of puppets from far and wide.

Slated for Jan. 15-26, 2015, the new city-wide cultural festival is to feature puppet shows at a variety of arts venues around the city. 
by Chris Jones

The inaugural, 10-day Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is designed, its organizers said, to “celebrate the full breadth of the art of contemporary puppetry with an international pageant of top puppets and puppet artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world.”

The festival, which will be administrated by Claire Sutton, is the brainchild of Blair Thomas, a longtime Chicago puppeteer, visual artist and creative entrepreneur. In an interview Monday, Thomas said that the festival will run, at least initially, without financial support from the city.

In essence, the participating venues (a group that includes such places as The Field Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Arts, Second City and Chicago Shakespeare Theater) will pay for the cost of the show they are presenting and then will share in the box-office venue.

“I am trying,” Thomas said, “to create a sustainable festival.”

Thomas’ company, Blair Thomas and Company, is the organizing entity for the new festival. Blair Thomas and Company, which has produced puppet and visual theater across Chicago and elsewhere, has a budget of about $300,000.

Thomas said that there will be a scholarly conference to accompany the festival and that the new endeavor will make Chicago the only U.S. city with an international puppet festival.

The specific acts are yet to be announced.

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