2017 Grants


Magic City
by Manual Cinema
Photo: Drew Dir
Kaidan Project
by Rogue Artists Ensemble
Photo: Darlington Swink
A Machine for Living
by Susan Simpson
Photo: Susan Simpson
Point Pleasant, The Legend of the Mothman
by The Unitards
Photo: Sandra Gunderson
Milo the Magnificent
by Alex & Olmsted
Photo: Alex Griffin
by Blackspace
Photo: J. Caldwell
Heimweh, Fernweh
by Brian Brown
Photo: Richard Termine
Don Quixote de La Redo
by Glass Half Full Theatre
Photo: Dannie Snyder
by Nick Lehane
Photo: Richard Termine
No 1 Chinese
by Rowan Magee
Photo: Richard Termine
All Hallows Eve
by Martin P. Robinson Productions
Photo: Richard Termine
Falling Out
by Phantom Limb Company
Photo: Matthew Soltesz
H.T. Darlings Incredible Musaeum Presents...
by Lisi Stoessel/Submersive Productions
Photo: Lisi Stoessel
Right of Admission Reserved
by Karen Zasloff
Photo: Karen Zasloff
The Pied Picker
by All Hands Productions
Photo: David Stephens
Lovabye Dragon
by First Stage
Photo: Brandon Kirkham
by Mesner Puppet Theater
Photo: Umbrella Arts Group
by Trusty Sidekick Theater Company
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
Layer the Walls
by Liz Parker & Rachel Sullivan
Photo: Marielle Solan
by Z Puppets Rosenschnoz
Photo: Bruce Silcox

Robin Frohardt (Brooklyn, NY)
THE PLASTIC BAG STORE is a puppetry based immersive play that takes place in a storefront. It is a rich environment alive with puppets, actors and highly detailed sets. Drawing on themes of over consumption and the excess of waste created for the sake of convenience, THE PLASTIC BAG STORE is a tragi-comic ode to the foreverness of plastic.

Manual Cinema (Chicago, IL)
The Magic City
Manual Cinema's first all-ages show, loosely adapted from Edith Nesbit's 1910 novel The Magic City, uses overhead projectors, paper shadow puppets, live actors in silhouette, miniature toy theater, live feed cameras, and live music and songs. Philomena is a nine year old girl, whose great love is building miniature worlds out of books, toys, and other found objects from around her house. Her own world is turned upside down when her older sister marries, and they move to a new town. Left alone in a new home, forced to make friends with her annoying stepbrother Lucas, Philomena secludes herself in the attic where she builds the biggest miniature city she's ever made. Later that night, Philomena wakes up to discover that her city has come alive, and she and Lucas are drawn into an extraordinary adventure.

Oregon Symphony (Portland, OR)
The Oregon Symphony closes its 2016/17 season with a world premiere production of Igor Stravinsky's hybrid work Perséphone with original puppetry and design by the famed Michael Curry. This unique concert experience will run May 13-15, 2017 in the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Ping Chong + Co. (New York, NY)
Where the Sea Breaks Its Back
Where the Sea Breaks Its Back weaves puppetry, video installation, recorded interviews, and yuraq (Alaska Native Yup'ik drum and dance) in a collage of striking encounters between indigenous Alaska Native communities and newcomers to the Great Land. The title of the piece—an English translation of the Aluutiq indigenous word "Alaska"— serves as a metaphor for the personal and cultural clashes at its heart. Directed by Ping Chong and created with performers Ryan Conarro, Gary Upay'aq Beaver (Central Yup'ik), and puppet designer Justin Perkins, the piece uses personal stories, documentary material, and a range of puppet forms to unfold stories of the historical and ongoing changes in people, cultures, and climate in Alaska.

Rogue Artists Ensemble (Los Angeles, CA)
Kaidan Project
Filled with playful tricksters, bloody haunts, and vengeful spirits, Rogue Artists Ensemble's Kaidan Project is a multi-sensory theatre experience that brings the ghost stories of Japan to life. The final production will walk the streets of Little Tokyo in Los Angeles, enacting the ancient game of Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (the telling of 100 ghost stories), opening the door between our world and the shadowside.

Sandglass Theater (Putney, VT)
Babylon is a response to the rapidly escalating world crisis of refugees and asylum seekers. Through puppetry, testimony, and song, the piece looks at the relationship of refugees to their lost homelands, to their new homelands and languages, and to other migrants who might not be stateless, but who might also be fleeing violence and destruction.

Susan Simpson (Los Angeles, CA)
A Machine for Living
A Machine for Living is an original multi-media play combining puppetry and live cinema to create an intricate sensorial portrait of a mind pursuing order and artistic vision in a moment of disintegration.
It explores the struggle to own and inhabit a creative impulse in the face of invisibility imposed by age and gender.

Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater/City Parks Foundation (New York, NY)
Pelléas et Mélisande
Debuting in 2017, CPF's production of Pelléas et Mélisande, a play by Maurice Maeterlinck, will utilize both puppetry -- a medium Maeterlinck saw as ideal for interpreting his theatrical pieces -- and dance to present the story of a doomed love triangle and explore the cosmic forces that determine people's lives. CPF has commissioned Italian choreographer, stage director, and designer Luca Veggetti to lead development of Maeterlinck's play with Bruce Cannon, Artistic Director at the Swedish Cottage, and his team of puppeteers.

The Unitards (Brooklyn, NY)
Point Pleasant, The Legend of the Mothman
A musical puppetry experience that tells the strange tale of the small town of Point Pleasant after four teenagers driving down a quiet country road encountered a winged specter with glowing red eyes. This would be the first of many sightings of the creature that would be dubbed the Mothman by local papers, which ushered in a year of terror, confusion and tragedy.


Alex & Olmsted (Takoma Park, MD)
Milo the Magnificent
Milo is an aspiring entertainer who uses Vaudeville-era music and suitcases to unpack his latest achievements in science and magic which don't always go as planned.

Automata Arts (Los Angeles, CA)
Here/There is a multidisciplinary puppet theater work that explores the liminal space between here and there---between home and combat, soldier and family, calm and terror, stasis and action, life and death. Developed by Janie Geiser with Jason Barlaan and Hsuan-Kuang, Here/There explores the body as the site of war, depository of memory, and vessel of scars.

Animal Cracker Conspiracy Puppet Company (San Diego, CA)
The Black Hen Society
Inspired by the first Russian children's book, The Black Hen Society is a darkly humorous hybrid puppet performance. Blending secret societies, alchemy, and ecological disaster the piece charts the moral journey towards acquiring knowledge.

Blackspace (Durham, NC)
5P1N0K10 is an Afrofuturist Hip Hopera revisiting the classic tale of Pinnokio. It is a multi media experience of puppetry confronting current social issues in the inner cities of current America.

Brian Brown (New York, NY)
Heimweh, Fernweh
"We are homesick most for the places we have never known." -Carson McCullers. Heimweh Fernweh is an ongoing experiment in breathing three-dimensional, kinetic life into the world of Brian Brown's oil paintings.

Glass Half Full Theatre (Austin, TX)
Don Quixote de La Redo
Don Quixote de La Redo is an original adaptation set in an imagined future near the border between Texas and México, in a place that used to be called "Laredo." A pair of drifters encounter the lost stories of Don Quixote and strive to "re-do" them with regrettable and hilarious consequences.

Nick Lehane (Brooklyn, NY)
An aging, isolated chimpanzee pieces together the fragments of her childhood raised with humans. Bleak reality bleeds to vivid memory in this non-verbal puppet play.

Rowan Magee (Brooklyn, NY)
No 1 Chinese
No 1 Chinese celebrates immigrants working in America, using puppetry, ensemble theater, and live music to illustrate the appearance and the invisibility of a family running a Chinese takeout restaurant.

Martin P. Robinson Productions (Redding, CT)
All Hallows Eve
ALL HALLOWS EVE... A dark, gothic, immersive theater Rock Opera following the journey of two disaffected kids through the trials and redemption of a particularly horrific Halloween night.

Nekaa Lab/Sachiyo Takahashi (Brooklyn, NY)
Everything Starts from a Dot
Inspired by a Wassily Kandinsky quote, Everything Starts from a Dot is an abstract journey of a humble dot told through a projection of miniature worlds and manipulation of large objects in live space. Through various encounters and a constantly shifting perspective and scale, the dot explores microscopic yet cosmic territories in itself and beyond.

Phantom Limb Company/Octopus Theatricals (Brooklyn, NY)
Falling Out
Falling Out is the final piece in Phantom Limb's environmental trilogy, this time addressing Japan, water and Fukushima. This piece is an investigation into the meeting of Butoh and puppetry as an expression of our connection and loss to pure water and land.

Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY)
The Experiment
Workshop grant funds from The Jim Henson Foundation will support a Playwrights Horizons workshop of the new play The Experiment by Lisa Kron, with puppetry by Dan Hurlin. The play is a madcap romp about science that questions the notion of writing plays about science, featuring scientist characters portrayed as marionettes and other puppets.

Lisi Stoessel/Submersive Productions (Baltimore, MD)
H.T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum Presents: The Treasures of New Galapagos, Astonishing Acquisitions from the Perisphere
H.T. Darling's Incredible Musaeum Presents: The Treasures of New Galapagos, Astonishing Acquisitions from the Perisphere will be an immersive theater experience set in an otherworldly cabinet of wonder. The Incredible Musaeum will be brought to life through live performance, puppetry, interactive sets, an original soundtrack, multiple story lines, and delights for all the senses.

Trouble Puppet Theater Company (Austin, TX)
The Bomb in Haymarket Square
The Bomb in Haymarket Square tells of a moment in American history when political and commercial authorities used xenophobia and nationalism to repress the largely immigrant-led Labor Movement. With several types of puppets and live music sing-a-longs of labor songs from the IWW, the show delivers an unabashed message of solidarity, equality, and justice for all..

Joseph Therrien (Brooklyn, NY)
Revolt of the Beavers
In 1937 The Federal Theater Project opened a 3 hour children's musical starring 50 roller skating beavers fighting a violent class war. This version includes interludes from FTP director Hallie Flanagan's passionate testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee complete with accordion and musical numbers.

Karen Zasloff (Williamstown, MA)
Right of Admission Reserved
Right of Admission Reserved, a travel diary as visual poem, combines shadow projections, sculpture and live music to explore the dynamics between our own internal wiring and the physical and social spaces we inhabit. Through the lens of a visitor to South Africa, the show traverses morphing anatomical and geographic landscapes to highlight the traveler's internal journey as she encounters the Western Cape region—its zeitgeist, its living conditions, its points of interconnection and blockage. The performance probes the "right of admission" to a foreign culture, and where ideals of integration and mobility collide with the entrenched economic and social structures left by apartheid. Devised in collaboration with South African artists, including acclaimed composer Neo Muyanga.


Alchemists' Workshop/Pat Picciano (Henniker, NH)
The Clown of God
The Clown of God is an original musical adaptation of the early European medieval tale that explores human creativity's celebration of the Divine with wooden rod puppets and hand cranked puppets by Pat Picciano. Using illustrations from Tomie dePaols's book of the same name the work will be ready for its World Premiere in NH in the Fall of 2017 by Alchemists' Workshop.

All Hands Productions (Decatur, GA)
The Pied Picker
When a group of party-hardy roaches threatens to disrupt the town of New Hamlin's Founder's Day celebration, banjo pickin' Pied Peter comes to the rescue. However, it's the town's mayor who learns a valuable lesson when he refuses to "pay the picker."

Chinese Theatre Works (Long Island City, NY)
Four Seasons
A collaborative production between Chinese Theatre Works and the Yangzhou Puppet Theater of China, Four Seasons fuses together classical Chinese poetry, music, dance, opera and puppetry with contemporary shadow theater technique. The result will be a vivid, living animation, framed within the structure of annual seasonal cycles and life passages, that transcends language and cultural barriers.

First Stage (Milwaukee, WI)
Lovabye Dragon
From the Dragon and Girl series by award-winning author Barbara Joosse comes an enchanting new musical of an unexpected friendship between a lonely girl and an even lonelier dragon. This magical production features a three-operator, 12-foot dragon puppet, tabletop puppets, shadow puppetry, and projections to bring the pair's grand adventure to the 'farthest far away' to vivid life.

Mesner Puppet Theater (Kansas City, MO)
Hola! follows the adventures of Isabella, a humble cook who wins a trip to Mexico on America's 3rd favorite cooking show, Chef vs. Cook. Using her wits and her beloved Aunt Tia's recipes, Isabella matches wits with a bumbling celebrity chef as they journey through Mexico, exploring the sites, sounds and citizens of a new culture. This show is presented with glove puppets, lively music, and projected scenery.

MoonBull Studio (Cincinnati, OH)
Brothers of Invention
Brothers of Invention tells the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright as they dream, experiment, fail and succeed on their path to solving the problem of human flight. Told with bunraku puppets, live actors, mechanical objects, original music and a transforming set, this production will bring the Wright family's story to life in inspiring new ways.

Miller Theatre at Columbia University (New York, NY)
The Bremen Town Band
Miller Theatre will develop a new production of The Bremen Town Band, pairing puppetry and live music, to be presented in May 2017. Lake Simons will design, direct, and choreograph the large-scale puppetry-based realization of this tale, working in close collaboration with composer Courtney Bryan.

Trusty Sidekick Theater Company (Astoria, NY)
CAMPFIRE features puppets appearing as a variety of animals, birds – even a hot dog! These puppets engage the audience in a number of ways and help draw them into the magic created in the light of the campfire from which the play draws its name.

Liz Parker and Rachel Sullivan (New York, NY)
Layer the Walls
When modern day Nina peels away the tired layers of wallpaper in a Lower East Side tenement, she reveals the stories of three families who each made a life within the tiny rooms over 100 years ago. Told with Bunraku, shadow, mask and other larger than life forms, the stories span the turn of the 20th century yet speak to our current political and personal landscapes. Puppet design and direction by Spica Wobbe.

Z Puppets Rosenschnoz (Minneapolis, MN)
Cellula, by Z Puppets Rosenschnoz in Minneapolis, joyously illuminates the true marvels of cell science inside us all with dazzling glow-in-the-dark puppetry and live accapella music. Like a bedtime story told by biologists, Cellula features highly-acclaimed improvisational vocalists Mankwe Ndosi and Libby Turner with the blacklight puppetry of award-winning performers Shari Aronson and Chris Griffith, directed by master puppeteer Kurt Hunter.



59E59 Theaters - $5,000
Wakka Wakka Productions - Made in China

HERE - $10,000
Dream Music Puppetry 2017

BAM - $10,000
PuppetCinema - Suddenly
Manual Cinema - Memontos Mori
Manual Cinema - The Magic City

Dixon Place - $5,000
Puppet Blok 2017-2018

La MaMa e.t.c. - $10,000
Ping Chong + Company - ALAXSXA|ALASKA
Czechoslovakian-American Marionette Theatre & Theatre KAPOW - The Life and Times of Lee Harvey Oswald
Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre - Don Quixote

New Victory Theater - $10,000
Teatro Gioco Vita - A Sky for Bears
The Train Theater - A Sick Day for Morris McGee
Fergus Walsh & Matt Acheson - William Johnson Hippopotamus XIII

Symphony Space - $5,000
Lightwire Theater - DINO-LIGHT
Alex & Olmsted - Milo the Magnificent
Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers - Everybody Loves Pirates
The Gottabees - New Work TBA
Mermaid Theater of Nova Scotia - The Rainbow Fish
Marionetes de la Esquina - The Circus

The Tank - $5,000
Sachiyo Takahashi - SHEEP #1
Pedro Reyes - Manufacturing Mischief
Cave Dogs - Liquid States - $5,000


Bram Stoker's Dracula
by James Ortiz & Strangemen and Co.


Bram Stoker's Dracula

adapted by Steven Dietz
puppetry and direction by James Ortiz 
in association with Strangemen and Co.

Bram Stoker's legendary novel tells the story of an animalistic, mind-controlling, shape-shifting predator and the ill-prepared group of men and women that battle him to keep from becoming his next victim- or worse- becoming like him themselves.

This spare re-imagining of Bram Stoker's tale about sexuality, madness,and the darkness inside us all is told simply with an ensemble of six actors and incorporates movement, music, and a variety of large scale puppets to create the ever-changing forms of monstrous bloodsucker himself, Dracula.