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News & Views of Phillips Since 1976
Wednesday June 12th 2024

PHILLIPS WELCOMES PUPPETRY FESTIVAL 10 Troupes, 55 Artists/Actors, 13 Performances, 12 workshops at 5 Phillips locations

Welcome Puppets,
Puppeteers, and Visitors 

The Phillips Community is exceptional in a myriad of ways. One amazing attribute is its artistic activism every month; but September 25-28, 2014 art and activism in Phillips catapults even higher with “Handmade Worlds A Festival of Puppet Theatre.” Performance descriptions below,  Schedule on page 6 and at  Tickets

Collaborating with the Great Plains Region of The Puppeteers of America and In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Open Eye Figure Theatre (OEFT) is producing a national puppetry festival working with the Great Plains Region of The Puppeteers of America (POA), In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre (HOBT) and the American Swedish Institute. This dynamic four day festival will offer a line-up of puppetry from around the country.  Open Eye will be the venue for the larger number of smaller works, and HOBT will provide the venue for the festival”'s larger productions.  POA members will travel from around the country to attend along with Minneapolis”' thriving puppetry audience ”“ putting our local puppet scene on the national map.

The Festival has been scheduled enabling Festival Pass Holders may see every one of the 13 performances, attend 2-4 of the 12 workshops, a panel discussion featuring nationally recognized artists, two puppetry cabarets and enjoy all the events of the festival. Performances will happen at four venues ”“ OEFT, the Open Eye Studio (for some of the more intimate offerings), HOBT, and the final performance at the American Swedish Institute. The festival will culminate in a one-time opportunity to see Open Eye”'s My Life as A Fairytale at the American Swedish Institute on Sunday morning.

The Handmade Worlds Festival will feature prominent works by artists such as Julian Crouch and David Commander (New York), Manuel Cinema and Michael Montenegro (Chicago), Masque Theatre (Connecticut), Paul Mesner (Missouri), Toy Box and Cripps Puppets (North Carolina), Monica Leo (Iowa), and several Minneapolis artists.

The four-day Handmade Worlds Festival features:

September 25

On-time Circus” created and performed by Margo McCreary (Minneapolis) will open the festival on the Midtown Greenway. The On-Time Circus is up-to-the-minute fun for family audiences! Puppets, clowning and live music, and songs make this show a must see. Come experience the tradition of traveling performers who set up in your town to put on a show.

“Love is”¦” created and performed by Larry Hunt (Connecticut),  ill open the festival at HOBT. Mr. Hunt has produced and performed original theater works under the auspices of MASQUE, an international touring company that he founded in 1980. His distinctive version of mask performance combines historical traditions with performance approaches influenced by ZeAmi to Peter Brook.

“Strumply Peter”, a signature work by Michael Sommers (Minneapolis), of OEFT, will open the festival at the OEFT venue. First produced in early 2014, this show played to sold out audiences and now returns for a limited run to be featured in the festival. “What is special about Strumply Peter is its almost infectious joy, which spreads from the quartet of players and into the music of the three-piece orchestra.” (City Pages)

September 26

On Friday, the Handmade Worlds Festival will offer a variety of workshops all day long covering diverse topics in puppetry such as joinery, design for puppets, creating a character, vacuum forming, cinematic shadow puppetry, movement for the mask, monster puppets, and needle felting and more.

Performances begin at 5pm

“The Mysterious Metamorphosis of Mr. Krank” created by an up-and-coming company, Toybox Theatre and Cripps Puppets (North Carolina), follows the story of Mr. Krank on a bizarre journey where he is subjected to many fantastical transformations. At HOBT.

“The Full Moon Puppet Show”, the first of two cabarets is curated by Liz Schachterle (Minneapolis) and highlights the local underground puppet scene. This “Best of” cabaret will draw from over 5 years of Full Moon shows. Don”'t miss this opportunity! At OEFT.

“Oakwood Apartments” will be in the Open Eye Studio and is created by David Commander (New York), a member of Big Art Group, in NYC. This installation/performance incorporates a miniature set, live camera feed, TV monitors, and action figure tenants seen in their various apartments as they talk about the life they have built at Oakwood and their disappointment of an unfulfilled future that was promised to them.

September 27

Saturday all the stops are pulled out for a marathon of performances. At 11am there will be an artist discussion with Paul Messner, Julia Miller, Julian Crouch, Monica Leo, Michael Sommers, and Sandy Spieler.  The panel will be onstage at Open Eye and is free to the public.

“Skeletons in the Closet” created and performed by Julie and Gustavo Boada (Minneapolis), will be presented at HOBT. This bilingual (Spanish/English) show for children is a colorful and touching story that teaches children about the meaning behind the Day of the Dead.

“Pulcinella” created and performed by Paul Mesner in the Italian Puppet tradition. Expect the usual badly behaved Pulcinella as he makes his way through life using a big stick. Mesner Puppets is a globally known professional puppet theatre company based in Kansas City, Missouri with a satellite location in Overland Park, Kansas. In addition to its local season of plays which draws about 20,000 annually, the company tours nationally and performs regionally to an additional 38,000 children and adults at performing arts centers, schools and libraries. At OEFT.

“Finding Home” by Monica Leo (Iowa), is a trilogy of pieces, poignant, joyful, and humorous, in a biographical telling of the artist”'s parent”'s immigration experiences. This Toy Theatre piece will play in the intimate Open Eye studio. Leo is the founder of The Eulenspiegel Puppets, formed in 1974. Based at Owl Glass Puppetry Center in West Liberty, Iowa, the Eulenspiegel has toured nationally and internationally. 

“Ada | Ava” by Manuel Cinema (Chicago) will be at HOBT doing some of the most ambitious and innovative cinematic live animation work in shadow puppetry. “Ada | Ava” is the story is of septuagenarian Ada, bereaved of her twin sister. She solitarily marks time in the patterns of a life built for two, when a traveling carnival with a mirror maze plunges her into a journey across the thresholds of life and death.

The festival looks to the future with two prominent national theatre artists share their newest works still in development in a double bill at OEFT:

“Birdheart” by Julian Crouch (New York) brings his latest original work in development, which he is performing with his collaborator Saskia Lane. “Birdheart” is described as the story of our relationship to ourselves, and the world around us. It is utilizing a style of puppetry that Mr. Crouch calls “trash and object” theatre.  An egg lies on the sand, and from the egg is born a large sheet of crumpled brown paper. The sheet of paper pulls elements up out of the sand, different hands, feet, heads. Sometimes the paper opens outwards and shadow images are projected in the heart of the paper figure. At OEFT.

Crouch is a renowned Brooklyn-based independent director, designer, writer, maker and teacher whose career has spanned theatre, opera, ballet, film and television.Julian”'s opera work has included set design and associate direction for Satyagraha for the English National Opera and The Metropolitan Opera, New York, and creating The Enchanted Island, Doctor Atomic and staging the 125th Gala for the Met. His multi-award winning production with The Tiger Lilies, “Shockheaded Peter”, was a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic, touring extensively. He designed the sets for the Broadway production of “Big Fish”Â and his design for “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” was nominated for a Tony Award.

Boulbus 1, Microcosm, and Giacco is created and performed by Michael Montenegro (Chicago), who has delighted Twin Cities”' audiences and now returns to premiere his newest work as well as bring one of our all time favorites, Giacco. Three separate pieces, all of which are an attempt to speak in the language of visual poetry. Images that may have come from dreams, both provocative andsurprising, appear and are accompanied by words equally adrift of context.The pieces express an underlying anxiety and subtle desperation experienced bymost human beings in such a way as to elevate it while perhaps discovering in its ugliness a hidden and strange beauty. At OEFT.

Michael Montenegro has spent decades investigating and approaching the puppetry arts from all directions, filling objects and figures with humor and pathos bringing the inanimate to life. In this trilogy, the audience has an opportunity to further experience and witness the artistry of this Master of Puppetry in an evening featuring his finest solo work. From the sublime to the absurd each his work will delight – or astound.

“Rodeo Wing Ding” The festival will celebrate puppeteers of all kinds in our own Puppet Rodeo, a traditional late night puppet cabaret with an open stage where puppeteers of any ilk can sign up to perform a 5-minute piece. At OEFT.

September 28

“My Life as A Fairytale”, appropriate for children and adults alike, will play at the American Swedish Institute. This unique production of an actor animating and transforming objects into characters relates the story of The Ugly Duckling. Created in early 2014 by Michael Sommers and Kimberly Richardson (Open Eye Figure Theatre) for the American Swedish Institute, this is a chance to see this production in the space it was created for with a remarkable performance by Kimberly Richardson as Hans Christian Andersen.

Festival Schedule and Ticketing Information

The Handmade World website is You can find schedule details, show descriptions, photos, workshop listings and more there.

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