The 3rd Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will feature an array of contemporary puppet acts and artists from Chicago, the U.S. and around the world to be presented at venues large and small throughout the city, January 17-27, 2019.
Founded to establish Chicago as a center for the advancement of the art of puppetry, the citywide Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will showcase an entertaining and eclectic array of puppet styles from around the world. In sum, the 2019 festival will present more than 80 performances of 24 shows from 11 countries over 11 days at 19 different Chicago-area venues.
Following is more information about each Latinx presentation, including venues, dates, times, ticket prices, estimated run time and video links (when available). Visit the festival website, ChicagoPuppetFest.org, to learn more about this world pageant of puppet artists and shows for residents and visitors to experience in January (shows are listed in each category in alpha order by show title):
2019 Festival Opener from the First Nations
For the first time, the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival will present a First Nations puppet tale, an all-ages spectacle production for the entire family, and one of the opening weekend presentations January 17-20 at the historic Studebaker Theater in downtown Chicago:
By IBEX Puppetry (New York City) Written by Ty Defoe
Lyrics by Ty Defoe and Dawn Avery; Music by Dawn Avery & Larry Mitchell, Kevin Tarrant and Ty Defoe. Based on original storyboards written and drawn by Heather Henson. Co-Directed by Ty Defoe and Heather Henson
Studebaker Theater, 410 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. January 17-20: Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m; Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: $40/$30 students / Run time: 60 minutes / Recommended for all ages – family friendly.
A fabulous, family friendly First Nations spectacle celebrating an eco-focused story featuring performers and elements of the Ojibwe, Lakota, and Cherokee Nations about the many connections between the sand hill cranes, earth and people. Follow Ajijaak on her migration on Turtle Island (North America) and notice how she learns wisdom from Indigenous peoples of past, present, and future. The crane is a metaphor and sacred symbol to help us mark the survival of living cultures still thriving today along the fly-a-way.
Heather Henson’s IBEX Puppetry aims to promote health & healing for the planet through artistic spectacle and the fine art of puppetry. IBEX is an entertainment company dedicated to promoting puppetry in all of its various mediums, nurturing work for a myriad of venues including stage, film and gallery. ibexpuppetry.com
Ajijaak on Turtle Island is presented in partnership with the American Indian Center.
MCA Chicago, Edlis Neeson Theatre, 220 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago. January 24-27: Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets: $30/$10 students. For ages 16 and up.
Argentine author/director Mariano Pensotti’s Burning bright in the forest of the night combines puppet theater and film to weave together the stories of three characters inspired by the Soviet revolution. The performance follows an exhausted university teacher, a young guerrilla fighter, and a TV journalist as they explore government control and the limits of resistance, asking if they are spectators or participants in their country’s history. Seamlessly cycling between live performance, moving image, and puppetry, Pensotti creates fictions within fictions, turning political strife from a bygone era into a question for our time. Burning bright in the forest of the night is presented in Spanish with English supertitles.
Mariano Pensotti began his career in cinema, directing award-winning feature films in Buenos Aires by the age of 25 before turning to theater. His central goal is the public display of the private, and how the private returns to become a part of the collective through literature, cinema, music, and visual art. His performances are a “theater of the real,” pushing real lives onstage to reconsider what is fictional and what is the creation process. Derived from improvisation and experimentation throughout the rehearsal period, his theater is not fiction based in real life, but a document of a lived experience. marianopensotti.com
By Borja Ytuquepintas (Spain). Co-presented with Instituto Cervantes de Chicago.
Instituto Cervantes de Chicago, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago. January 18 and 19: Friday at 5 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Tickets: $20/$15 students and Cervantes members. For ages 4 and up. Run time: 55 minutes.
Borja González tells us, with only a little bit of sand and his hands, a story of JoJo (“YoYo” in Spanish) an orangutan inspired by real events, which invites audiences to reﬂect on the fragility of the ecosystem and the delicate balance it demands. In the deepest forest of Borneo, ﬁres are threatening jungle sustainability. A small orangutan is away from his mother, unprotected, and sees how humans destroy their entire habitat, causing deforestation of the jungle, endangering the survival of animals and plants.
Based in Mataró (Barcelona), Ytuquepintas is a young Catalan company which has been active since 2012. It was founded by the multidisciplinary artist Borja González, accompanied by composer and pianist Roc Sala, with Joaquim Aragó in charge of production. Art made with sand is the main basis of the shows developed by the Ytuquepintas company. Drawings are created live on a hand crafted light table and projected in real time to a big screen. These images are accompanied by live music, large format puppets and speed sand painting, telling beautiful and poetic stories. borjasandartist.com
By Pedro Reyes (Mexico). Co-presented by the Logan Center with support from University of Chicago Theater and Performance Studies.
Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Theater East. 915 E 60th St., Chicago. January 18-20: Friday at 8 p.m. (with post-performance talk), Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Tickets: $20/$10 students. For ages 13 and up. Run time: 55 minutes.
Noam Chomsky, Steve Jobs, Ayn Rand, Karl Marx, Elon Musk and President Trump are among the figures represented in Pedro Reyes’s satirical puppet play, Manufacturing Mischief. The work tackles ideas around the ethics of artificial intelligence, the use of technology to solve all humanity’s problems, the current political climate in the United States and Randian philosophy. The play, which grew out of Reyes’ artist residency at MIT, uses comedy to comment on morality, freedom, inequality and techno-enthusiasm. Also, Karl Marx raps.
Pedro Reyes is a widely celebrated multi-platform artist, activist and educator based in Mexico City. He uses all aspects of visual art and education to address political and social issues. One of his main commitments is using the arts to reduce gun violence. In 2008, Reyes commenced Palas por Pistolas. The program collected over 1,527 guns donated from Mexican citizens, melted them down into 1,527 shovels, and then gave them to various schools and art institutions, which in turn used them to plant 1,527 trees. The program’s success garnered attention from the Mexican government, which donated 6,700 weapons that Reyes converted into musical instruments. pedroreyes.net
Co-presented with Instituto Cervantes de Chicago
By Silencio Blanco (Chile). Instituto Cervantes de Chicago, 31 W. Ohio St., Chicago. January 25 and 26: Friday at 5 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Tickets: $25/$20 students and Cervantes members. Run time: 50 minutes
For ages 10 and up.
Silencio Blanco returns to the Chicago Puppet Festival with its third play devoted to men of the sea. Pescador (Fisherman) digs into the intimacy of those men who are submerged in their solitary crafts and confronted with nature’s immensity. The play ﬁnds its dwelling in those places which have become awkward, strange to us: a man by his boat and his ﬁshing net, establishing an invaluable connection with his trade. It is silence in all its forms. It is the dance of silence.
Silencio Blanco has distinguished itself by its meticulous work with puppets of great expressiveness, made from everyday materials such as newspaper and chopsticks. The company devises its productions from observation and ﬁeld research, delving into the lives of everyday people and solitary jobs. Exploring from gesture and forgoing text they are able to transfer human’s movement towards the marionettes provoking an illusion in the audience to the point of transmitting the character’s heartbeat. The emotional eloquence of the marionettes along with the thematic depth of its shows have taken the company to present its work at prominent stages abroad, including the 2017 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival with the critically acclaimed work Chiflón el Silencio del Carbón. silencioblanco.cl
By Poncili Creación (Puerto Rico). Part of the Festival Neighborhood Tour (see venues and show times below) Free!
In this fantastical journey audiences witness the clash of two worlds unknown yet familiar, one luscious and beautiful, the other gloomy and scary. All actions in these worlds seem to have strong repercussions on the other. How can both worlds survive this terrible codependency? At times a metaphor for our current society or even for survival itself, The Beginning of Nothing is a visually stunning journey that makes its way down an impossible path with a breeze of hope, told in a dazzling spiral of color and dance.
Poncili Creación is an interactive sculpture collective based in Puerto Rico. Since 2012, they have worked with large scale sculptures they call “Objects. “Out of these Objects they generate audiovisual and performative content. Their tours have taken them around the United States, Canada, Europe and Dominican Republic performing at festivals, squats, venues, bars, schools and bathrooms. Their work has been shown in galleries and art fairs around the world as interactive sculpture. Their artistic process is an exploration on how they can impact and alter their life, others and reality through their understanding of objects and movement and the application of that understanding. Instagram.com/poncilicreacion
The Beginning of Nothing is part of a double bill for the Free Festival Neighborhood Tour. It is paired with Pulcinella by Gaspare Nasuto (Italy), featuring the traditional Italian Commedia dell’Art hand puppet trickster Pulicinella, who upon migration to England became known to English speakers as Punch.
Both performances are family friendly and for all ages. Audiences are invited to sample shows, meet the artists after each performance, or share a full day of puppetry. Tickets are free. Reserve online at chicagopuppetfest.org or first come, first served. Each show runs 40-45 minutes. Following are the six neighborhood locations and show times:
Sweet Water Foundation in Englewood/Washington Park, 5749 S. Perry Ave., Chicago. Friday, January 18, 1:30 p.m. sweetwaterfoundation.com or (312) 508-3982
Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, 4048 W. Armitage, Chicago
Saturday, January 19 at 2 p.m.
segundoruizbelvis.org or (773) 698-6004
Garfield Park Conservatory, Horticulture Hall, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago
Wednesday, January 23, 4:30 p.m.
garfieldconservatory.org or (312) 746-5100
Marquette Park, 6743 S. Kedzie Ave., Chicago
Friday, January 25 at 5 p.m.
chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks/Marquette-Park or (312) 747-6469
Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago in the Crystal Garden
Saturday, January 26 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. navypier.org or (312) 595-7437
Experimental Station in Woodlawn, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave., Chicago
Sunday, January 27 at 11 a.m. (doors open at 10:30 a.m.)
experimentalstation.org or (312) 241-6044
The Festival Neighborhood Tour is presented in partnership with the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks series and Navy Pier.
The festival website, chicagopuppetfest.org, is your online gateway information and tickets to this world pageant of top puppet artists and shows. Tickets go on sale in December. In the interim, sign up on the website to be the first to receive important festival updates. Track the festival hashtag, #ChiPuppetFest, like the festival on Facebook, or follow the festival on Twitter at @ChiPuppetFest or on Instagram.