The La MaMa Puppet Festival showcases new contemporary puppet theatre by artists from around the world. Curated by Denise Greber, this year’s series focuses on diversifying the voices, stories, and perspectives shared onstage, with the goal of uplifting marginalized identities within the puppet community. The festival highlights interdisciplinary works from female artists who explore issues such as cultural identity, Black Lives Matter, the refugee crisis, and the disability experience. Programming also includes family events, the annual Puppet Slam, La MaMa Coffeehouse Chronicles, and Jump Start: a weekend of works in progress.
Puppet theatre has been an integral part of La MaMa’s programming since 1962, when Ellen Stewart invited puppet artists from Korean to perform their production of Head Hunting by Pagoon Kang Wouk. Through the Puppet Festival, La MaMa continues to support both emerging and established artists whose innovative work enriches the field of puppetry. The festival is under the leadership of Denise Greber (Director and Curator) and Federico Restrepo (Producing Director).
The 8th La MaMa Puppet Festival Fall 2018 has been made possible with support from Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation, Puppet Slam Network, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and public support by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Cultural on the Arts. Additional support from Cheryl Henson is gratefully acknowledged.
Step into the alluring cabinet of marionettes and allow them to transport you to a place of pure wonder. This cabinet of curiosities illuminates the universal connection between all things, illustrating a world of oneness between art, history, nature and science.
Puppeteers Alice Therese Gottschalk, Raphael Mürle, and Frank Soehnle, all disciples of the internationally-renowned master puppeteer Albrecht Roser, convene as a trio to challenge and intensify their puppeteering skills.
By Visual Expressions in the Ellen Stewart Theatre
Inspired by a classic Chinese poem, Tian Wen is an experimental puppetry performance featuring living sculpture, stylized movement, and live music. The individual pieces - or dreams - explore the differences in feelings, concerns, and behaviors between East and West that Hua Hua Zhang has observed during her artistic journey in America. In the piece's magical dreamscape, powerful images abound: beautiful lanterns, a mysterious balloon, a stunning bird that both agitates and inspires, rocks and skeletons that thrillingly come to life.
Puppeteer and theatre artist Jane Catherine Shaw will curate a one-night only puppet slam featuring contemporary short-form puppet and object theatre from both emerging and veteran puppet artists. This evening, a puppet cabaret, will challenge artist to make their best short form work and to bring a variety of puppet forms to the attention of audiences. Shaw is a co-founder and co-curator of the Voice 4 Vision Puppet Festival, a festival devoted to presenting New York artists working in puppetry.
Directed by Nancy Black In the Ellen Stewart Theatre
In this new solo work, renowned dancer/puppeteer Duda Paiva draws on his childhood, during which he suffered an illness that blistered his body and left him temporarily blind. His surreal path to healing involved both shamanic and western medicine. Blind transforms this experience into a metaphor about disability, rejection and resolution. Often interacting with the audience, it is funny as well as moving. It finds the political through intimacy, woven into a rich theatrical tapestry of dance, puppetry, adaptations of Yoruba songs from a unique Afro-Brazilian subculture, and driving forces of sound and light.
Concept by Nekaa Lab/Sachiyo Takahashi
in The Downstairs
Inspired by abstract visual artists, notably Wassily Kandinsky, Alexander Calder and Otto Piene, Everything Starts from a Dot is an abstract journey of a humble dot presented through Microscopic Live Cinema-Theatre, combining video projection and the presence of moving objects on stage. Through various encounters and metamorphoses, the dot explores microscopic yet cosmic territories in itself and beyond. The performance is accompanied with Electro-acoustic soundtrack, without spoken words.
By Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company
in The Downstairs
Don Quixote and his friend Sancho Panza with travel the five boroughs of New York on a quest to save the world from evil forces. Loco7 Theatre productions utilize original music, dancers, body puppets and larger-than-life marionettes. Restrepo’s intense love and passion for the history of the Americas and his journeys in New York have been a constant source for all his work.
Directed by Patrick Masset
in the Ellen Stewart Theatre
Written as an allegory, Exodus is a multi-disciplinary performance that questions the large migration waves. Four artists from different backgrounds tell the tragic story of a migrant’s deafening silence. They tell about their dreams of freedom, washed up on the shores of a “free” country. Told through music, theatre, video, puppet and circus, it is a disturbing symbol of the current situation of refugees facing “the European fortress.”
Written & Directed by Nephrii Amenii
in The Downstairs
Food for the Gods is a multimedia performance installation about “human value.” A three-part expression of rage, indifference, and celestial knowing. Inspired by the killings of Black men, this work uses object and puppet performance to explore dehumanization, light, invisibility and well...the magical-less-ness of it all.
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup is a puppet show based on the beloved PJ Library book by Pamela Mayer. The story revolves around two grandmothers, one Jewish and one Chinese, who come up with elaborate ways to show their granddaughter that their cultural heritage (their chicken soup) is the best. The themes in this story include mixed-race families, cultural heritage, and the joy of cooking.
A Presentation of Works-In-Progress in The Downstairs
Puppet and theatre artists get a chance to showcase their works in progress in the La MaMa Puppet Series. Four artists will share a three-day billing including: The Final Lesson (working title) by Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company, Place No Place by Tom Lee and Lisa Gonzalez, Daydream Tutorial by Maiko Kikuchi, a new workby Torry Bend, PACKRAT by Concrete Temple Theatre and Act II of Midsummer Night's Dream by Sova Theater.