2015 Grants

PROJECT GRANTS ($5,000)

    
PAPER CITIES
by Animal Cracker Conspiracy
Photo: Craig Brayton
Unfolding the Story: A Journey of Her Own
by Margarita Blush
Photo: Dimitar Dimitrov
Mulan: Holding up Half the Sky
by Chinese Theatre Works
Photo by Richard Termine
BIRDHEART
by Julian Crouch & Saskia Lane
Photo: Jill Steinberg
Object of Her Affection
by Marsian De Lellis
Photo: Rafael Hernandez
TUNGSTEN (artery)
by Janie Geiser
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
The Flatiron Hex
by James Godwin
Photo: Jim Moore
American Weather
by Chris Green
Photo: Richard Termine
Digger
by Inkfish
Photo: Brian Snapp
The Chronicles of Rose
by David Lane
Photo: Jonathan J. Davis
Shank's Mare
by Tom Lee
Photo: Ayumi Sakamoto
Life's a Dream
by Loco7
Photo: Vanessa Schonwald
Mementos Mori
by Manual Cinema
Photo: Drew Dir
MEMORY RINGS
by Phantom Limb Company/Octopus Theatricals
Photo: Sierra Urich Photography
The Siege of Heaven: Resistance
by Trouble Puppet Theater Company
Photo: John Clark
An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show
by Zach Dorn
Photo: Murphi Cook
Untitled Female Pirate Project
by Drama of Works
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls
by Great Small Works
Photo: Erik McGregor
Blossom
by Spencer Lott
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Tree Pop
by Lake Simons
Photo: David Gazzo
Fox vs. Kingdom
by Studio Reynard
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Dream of Land
by Visual Expressions
Photo: Su Jing
Laser Beak Man
by Dead Puppet Society
Illustration: Tim Sharp
The Funny Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling
by Thistle Theatre
Photo: Courtesy of the Artist
Two Stories About Exploring
by Eric Wright
Photo: Irene Lau
Now All we Have Left is Each Other
by Elizabeth Hara & Spencer Lott
 

Animal Cracker Conspiracy (San Diego, CA)
PAPER CITIES
Paper Cities is a devised puppet theater performance that investigates man’s relationship with cities, with nature, and the impact of cities on nature. Considering the ‘sense of place’, the piece questions, ‘what do you take from your environment and more importantly, what do you contribute back to it?’ 

Margarita Blush (Storrs, CT)
Unfolding the Story: A Journey of Her Own
Unfolding the Story, A Journey of Her Own is a bold international project in which a diverse group of artists come together to create an original puppet theatre production delving into the themes of women’s wisdom and empowerment. The show will feature hand-crafted puppets, live acting, unique scenography, composed music, and will be performed by a female cast. It will premiere in September, 2015 at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry (BIMP) at the University of Connecticut campus in Storrs, CT.

Chinese Theatre Works (Long Island City, NY)
Mulan: Holding Up Half the Sky
Written and directed by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, Mulan: Holding Up Half the Sky presents episodes from 2500 years of Chinese history, seen through the lives of four outstanding women warriors. Exploits from the lives of these four legendary women are interspersed with comic interludes on the 4 Confucian virtues that underlay proper woman’s conduct and are depicted through a seamless blend of Chinese opera performance technique with modern rod, bunraku-style, hand puppets, direct screen and overhead projection shadows.

Julian Crouch & Saskia Lane (Brooklyn, NY)
BIRDHEART
Theatre maker Julian Crouch and composer/musician Saskia Lane join forces to tell a story of man's relationship to the world. Using a single sheet of paper, a box of sand and little else, Julian and Saskia create a world that expresses the inevitable loneliness of existence. Through a series of animated images built in front of the audiences' eyes, and accompanied by a self composed soundtrack, they conjure an intimate world together, creating something achingly beautiful from nothing. 

Marsian De Lellis (Los Angeles, CA)
Object of Her Affection
Object of Her Affection is an unconventional love story centered on a woman who desires intimate relationships with inanimate objects and her search for love that is just beyond her reach.  As a visual narrative about flesh and blood human beings developing relationships with things, Object of Her Affection explores the duality of objects as (in)/animate: animate and sentient through the eyes of the protagonist, Andrea, while the same objects appear inanimate to most. Creator, Marsian De Lellis will perform Object Of Her Affection under the direction of Michele Spears, with theatrical elements that stretch definitions of puppetry, and subject matter that complicates the categorization of sexual identity.

Janie Geiser (Los Angeles, CA)
TUNGSTEN (artery)
Tungsten (artery) is a multidisciplinary performance conceived and created by Janie Geiser (director/video/puppetry), Erik Ehn (playwright), and Shannon Scrofano (installation/space). Tungsten (artery) integrates elements of bunraku puppetry, shadows, video, sound, and text to create an elliptical/emotional rumination on our mortality, our earthliness, our dust. A woman is serially born and eaten by the planet; going back and forth from grave to rebirth, her experience grows confused. What does it mean to be free of the earth and in love with it; to be possessed by the earth and in doubt; to be born of the earth and to crush it; to be crushed by the earth and thereby freed? Tungsten (artery) will be presented as a work-in-progress at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, February 20-22, 2015.  Tungsten (artery) will premiere in Los Angeles at Automata in November 2015.

James Godwin (Brooklyn, NY)
The Flatiron Hex
The Flatiron Hex is a solo puppet performance that tells the story of Wylie Walker, a contract shaman who works for NYORG, a city in the middle of a swamp. Inspired by speculative fiction and neo-noir, The Flatiron Hex is a peek inside a parallel world of weird magick and an impending super-storm. Tom Burnett directs, co-writes and provides live sound design.

Chris Green (Brooklyn, NY)
American Weather
American Weather is an original evening-length work of puppetry, movement, objects, and songs visualizing the strange and iconic folklore emanating from an empire in decline.  The piece was initially developed through an LMCC Process Space Grant on Governor's Island, and has had subsequent excerpts performed in the Close To You Festival in Taipei, Taiwan 2013 and the Puppet Lab at St. Ann's Warehouse in May 2014. Premiere date is slated for 2016. Ensemble includes:  Yoko Myoi, Erin K. Orr, Quince Marcum, Chris Green, Yasmin Reshamwala, and Kirstin Kammemeyer with original music by Chris Green. 

Inkfish (Jackson Heights, NY)
The Digger: A Subterranean Allegory
The Digger: A Subterranean Allegory is a satire about the risks of mankind's technological obsession. Part man, part machine, The Digger is a new-world pioneer who strives to find the source of life hidden in an underworld dominated by greed, lust, fraud, and treachery. Facing otherworldly demons and those within, The Digger's search for meaning becomes a sacrificial journey that pushes him to transcend his earthly attachments. But will that sacrifice ultimately include the one he loves? Inspired by Dante’s Inferno, the epic of Gilgamesh and Hermes' Emerald Tablet, this new production by Inkfish uses both traditional and experimental storytelling through puppetry, poetry, and song, accompanied by live soundscapes and video projection. The story focuses on estrangement, and the erosion of humanity in the shadow of snowballing technological advancement. 

David Lane (North Adams, MA)
The Chronicles of Rose
The Chronicles of Rose aims to pose questions about the nature of greed, the efficacy of war, Jewish identify and the perseverance of the human spirit. The play weaves together the story of Rose Valland, who fought to save countless treasures from being lost forever during Nazi occupied Paris, Coneilus Gurlitt, (the son of Hildebrand Gurlitt, who was one of a handful of Nazi-approved art dealers allowed to deal in Raubkunst), who had kept his father's collection of 1,280 Degenerate Art works hidden in his apartment in Munich for almost  60 years, and a contemporary historian, tasked with sorting through a famous museum's collection looking for works of questionable provenance. 

Tom Lee (New York, NY)
Shank's Mare
Created by Tom Lee with Japanese Master Puppeteer Koryu Nishikawa V, Shank’s Mare is the story of two wandering travelers whose paths intersect in time and space. Using traditional kuruma ningyo puppetry, live feed video projection and live music, the piece explores themes of life and death and how tradition is passed on.

Loco7 Theatre Company (New York, NY)
Life's a Dream (or Undefined Fraction)
Life's a Dream (or Undefined Fraction) is a dance puppet theatre piece inspired by the Spanish-language play by Pedro Calderón de la Barca - Life Is A Dream, which traces inequality and reflects on the principles of justice, guilt, punishment and the conflict between free will and fate.  Loco7 will explore the philosophical question of whether this so-called "real world" is actually some sort of illusion, a "dream" from which we will be awakened some day.  The moral question, then, is how should we be acting if this is some sort of test, some revelation about our character, our "nobility" that will be revealed at death?

Manual Cinema (Chicago, IL)
Mementos Mori
When Death takes an unexpected holiday, an elderly film projectionist finds a new lease on life; a ghost explores the afterlife with her iPhone; and a seven-year-old girl discovers her own mortality. In Manual Cinema's most ambitious show to date, a cast of six puppeteers use hundreds of paper puppets, seven overhead projectors, two cameras, and three screens to create a live "movie" in front of the audience. Accompanied by four musicians and live sound effects, the result is a rich mosaic of cinematic storytelling all performed live with puppets.

Phantom Limb Company/Octopus Theatricals (Brooklyn, NY/Princeton, NJ)
Memory Rings
Memory Rings by Phantom Limb Company is a multidisciplinary theatrical event harnessing innovative puppetry, choreography, original music, sculptural set design and video to spellbinding and original effect, embodying a spirit of experimentation and inquiry. Co-Conceived by director/designer Jessica Grindstaff and puppet designer/composer Erik Sanko, and featuring the work of award-winning choreographer Ryan Heffington, Memory Rings is performed by an ensemble of eight actor/dancer/puppeteers who use these non-verbal storytelling techniques to weave myth and fable—old and new—with 5,000 years of human and environmental change, all under the watchful gaze of the Methuselah Tree, world's oldest living tree.  

Trouble Puppet Theater Company (Austin, TX)
The Siege of Heaven: Resistance
The Siege of Heaven: Resistance is part II of a trilogy of puppet plays (Conspiracy, Resistance, and Rebellion) about a coalition of factions from the Heavenly Host and the Infernal Legions, who conspire to undermine Hell and overthrow a Heaven founded on arbitrary and autocratic rule. The show employs modified marionettes, American tabletop puppets, and Chinese dragon–style puppets to create a noir spectacle inspired by French Resistance films and espionage thrillers. Who will carry the day?
 

SEED GRANTS ($2,000)

Stefano Brancato & Michael Goldfried (Astoria, NY)
The Indelible Mark on Edward Barron
Edward Barron, a beautiful, toy theater puppeteer has secluded himself in his home suffering from the later stages of dementia. He is haunted by the memory of the one man he could have loved – and the work they could have made together. Pathos and humor collide in this unique theatrical experience that features puppetry, music, dance and the rarest possibility of love. The Indelible Mark on Edward Barron has been developed at Puppets at the Carriage House and The Drama League with generous support from Jane Henson, The Anna Sosenko Assist Trust, the people of Chaplin and The Jim Henson Foundation.  Written, Directed and Designed by Stefano Brancato & Michael Goldfried.

Zach Dorn  (San Antonio, TX)
An Excruciatingly Ordinary Toy Theater Show
Zach Dorn weaves lost journal entries into peculiar tales by manipulating digital cameras through toy-sized streets filled with paper puppets. A lonely puppeteer stalks the child of two notorious celebrities, a three-foot ghost plagues an eight-year-old boy’s fragile psyche, and an opera-singing landlord refuses to return a security deposit. These stories and more explode onto the stage in this modern exploration into Toy Theater. 

Drama of Works (Brooklyn, NY)
The Untitled Female Pirate Project
The Untitled Female Pirate Project is an immersive shadow puppet theater experience exploring the explosive history of female pirates. What made these women choose this life – as opposed to that of wife, salesgirl, cook or whore? Why choose to be a pirate? We want our audience to examine these choices – while at sea with us, drinking rum with us, singing along with us, going on a journey with us…

Great Small Works (New York, NY)
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls
Muntergang and Other Cheerful Downfalls is a new production by the Great Small Works collective, developed with Dr. Eddy Portnoy using the archives of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.  It is based on the lives work of Yosl Cutler and Zuni Maud, two graphic artists and satirists whose Modicut Puppet Theater thrived in 1920's New York City, and was the first Yiddish-language puppet theater.

Dan Hurlin (New York, NY)
Dramma Plastico Futurista (working title)
Dramma Plastico Futurista (working title) is a puppet theater work by Dan Hurlin based on four, newly discovered plays written in 1917 by Fortunato Depero, a painter and leading member of the Italian Futurist movement. These short, wordless plays existed only in Depero’s own handwriting and prior to Hurlin unearthing them in Italy, have never been translated into English. Hurlin will give the plays their world premiere and the publication of their fist English language translation in 2017 on the occasion of their 100th anniversary.

Lone Wolf Tribe (Brooklyn, NY)
BULLHEAD
Conceived by Kevin Augustine & created by Lone Wolf Tribe, BULLHEAD radically reexamines the ancient myth of the Minotaur to investigate modern corporate policy changes implemented during the Reaganomics years.  LWT aims to daringly theatricalize to what extent income disparity and a growing class divide has contributed to a greater frequency of 'going postal' in Western society, leading more and more individuals down an inexorable path to violence.

Spencer Lott (Brooklyn, NY)
Blossom
James Blossom has Alzheimer’s disease, and now that he's living at Garden Ridge, he's disgusted to find that he is surrounded by old people. Forced into an early retirement, the former Hollywood set painter starts to fill his bland nursing home walls with a mural of his life's most defining moments. A relationship with a young volunteer grounds him as he finds less and less time for the monotony of the present day and becomes increasingly busy starring in his own cinematic adventures. 

San Diego Guild of Puppetry (Chula Vista, CA)
Life
To be told with music, movement and simple foam puppets, Life is  envisioned as a piece about beginnings,  endings, and all that lies between:  an exploration of the “IF”s  of the human condition, the decisions we make, the  paths we take, that start at birth and end at death (or do they?) The play begins with a golden orb swirling out of the unknown dark, slowly unfolding into the letters: L, I, F and E  which become the set of the play, forming  and reforming as the action builds, becoming mountains to climb, depths to plumb, bridges to cross, mazes to conquer,  scenes that  rise, fall, crush, uplift. 

Lake Simons (Brooklyn, NY)
Tree Pop
Tree Pop is a puppet theatre piece by Lake Simons with an original score composed by John Dyer. Tree Pop investigates the idea of things and people living in and amongst themselves in harmony within a crop of pine trees. Inhabitants emerge from the woods to share moments in their lives non verbally through images created with puppetry, mask, and movement.

Studio Reynard (Saugerties, NY)
Fox vs. Kingdom
A satiric performance of puppet theater, based on the darkly funny escapades of Reynard the Fox, an ancient beast epic. Told by a trio of troubadours through shadows, puppets and live music, Reynard stands accused of murder, theft, adultery, sacrelege and excessive violence. Witness the court’s unraveling as lust for revenge and grisly tales of woe overwhelm the official festivities. Careening from folk song to operatic satire to salacious tango, animal appetites dominate in this retelling of a medieval blockbuster.

Visual Expressions (Boothwyn, PA)
Dream of Land
Dream of Land uses dreams as a vehicle to create a meditation on the expansive nature of consciousness and sub consciousness through  puppet art, installation and performance.

Wakka Wakka Productions (Brooklyn, NY)
Made in China
Made in China will be a dark musical comedy about the complicated relationship between the U.S. and China, specifically related to the production and consumption of goods, and examined through the lens of an unlikely relationship between an eccentric middle-aged American woman and her Chinese ex-pat neighbor.  It will feature over 30 puppets and masks, 7 puppeteers, 3 musicians and animated video.

 

FAMILY GRANTS ($3,000)

Katie Campbell (Little Rock, AR)
The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling is a modern reimagining of the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.  Inspired by Andersen’s paper cuttings, a young girl embarks on a journey of self discovery and personal transformation.  The story unfolds with three actor/puppeteers, two overhead projectors, over sixty paper puppets, and original music performed live by an ensemble of youth musicians.  

Dead Puppet Society (Jersey City, NJ)
Laser Beak Man
In a story jam packed with the trademark humor and visual puns that come from his literal interpretation of language, Laser Beak Man is a new visual theatre work under development by the Dead Puppet Society and Tim Sharp that explodes with color and energy.

Peppercorn Theatre at the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem (Winston-Salem,NC)
The Tourist Trap
The Tourist Trap is an original, musical road-trip that explores life, love, and companionship. When an aging couple, Jerry and Evelyn, become stranded on a drive to their granddaughter’s wedding, they resort to a derelict and forgotten roadside attraction run entirely by a family of puppets. Song and storytelling guide them to revive the park, ultimately rekindling their love.

Spellbound Theatre (Brooklyn, NY)
Ears, Nose and Tail
Ears, Nose, and Tail is the story of a dog who isn't sure he wants to be a dog anymore.  Blending shadow puppetry, animation, and live-illustration, Spellbound Theatre artists explore how play and imagination can shape who we are.  This interactive show is being created for audiences ages 2-5 as part of the New Victory LabWorks Resident Artist Program.

Thistle Theatre (Seattle, WA)
The Funny Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling
Based on a Japanese story, a funny old woman follows a rice dumpling down a hole as it bounces it’s way into another world. Following a road, she meets a talking statue, that warns the funny old woman of danger, but an Oni (horned demon) takes her captive. The Oni gives her a magic rice paddle and orders her to cook huge amounts of rice for him to eat. The funny old woman used her wits and humor to attempt an escape.  Performed with tabletop Bunraku puppets and smaller rod puppets, the show features transformations in scale.

Eric Wright (New York, NY)
Two Stories About Exploring: The Soldier's Tale and Four Seasons in Buenos Dairies
A soldier trades with the devil and ends up whisked off to marvelous, fantastical and dangerous locations; two cows in love find themselves in a tango with the law when pushed outside their ordinary pastures. Classical music sets the scene, and puppets take audiences on a journey beyond our heroes' familiar territory.

 

PRESENTING GRANTS

BAM
ManxMouse: The Mouse Who Knew No Fear $5,000

Dixon Place
Puppet Blok 2015, James Godwin & Victor Morales $10,000

Gotham Chamber Opera
El Gato Con Botas $5,000

HERE
Dream Music Puppetry 2015 $10,000

St. Ann's Warehouse
Labapalooza 2015 $10,000

Abrons Arts Center
Sisters Follies $5,000

BAM
Nufonia Must Fall - Kid Koala $5,000

La MaMa e.t.c.
Puppet Series 2015 $10,000

New Victory Theater
Handa's Surprise, The Star Keeper, Pied Piper $10,000

Symphony Space
The Great Red Ball Rescue, Lollipops for Breakfast, The Little Minute, Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey $5,000

The Tank
Reverse Cascade, The Paper Hat Game $5,000

 

THE JIM HENSON FOUNDATION PUPPETRY RESIDENCY AT THE EUGENE O'NEILL THEATER CENTER

Elizabeth Hara & Spencer Lott
Now All We Have Left is Each Other
After the deaths of their parents, 17 year old Kyle and 14 year old Carol are left alone in Frozen Valley, their family’s run down roadside attraction in Winnehotak, Minnesota. As they struggle to survive, they must also save the park from big city developers, a Native tribe fighting for the land, and a mysterious hobo with questionable intentions. Dealing with their parents’ deaths and learning to live with each other, they ultimately find solace in the shared experience only a sibling can understand.