On April 2nd, 2011, I hosted a puppet cabaret at the Nafe Katter Theatre with long-time Blood from a Turnip collaborator, Vanessa Gilbert. The line up included short-form puppet acts from Great Small Works, Big Nazo, Michael Sommers, and Kate Brehm. The cabaret was part of Puppetry and Post Dramatic Performance: An International Conference on Performing Objects in the 21st Century at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT.
Contemporary developments in theatre, the visual arts, and new media are transforming the artistic, critical, conceptual, and commercial landscape for puppetry, one of the world’s oldest art forms. Today, the term puppetry can be applied to a wide range of objects and images presented in live and mediated performance. These performing objects and animated images continue to appear in traditional venues, but are also exploiting new territories, crossing between artistic worlds, even as traditional boundaries between the arts themselves break down. While theatrical theory is just awakening to the post-dramatic, puppetry has always thrived independently of a dependence on dramatic text. This conference seeks to explore new approaches to critical thinking and theorizing about puppetry and performing objects of all kinds and to bring new multidisciplinary views to bear on the subject of puppetry—conceived in the broadest terms—in order to enrich, expand, and enliven the field of discourse. This conference is the first international scholarly puppetry conference in the U.S.
This conference is dedicated to Frank Ballard (1929-2010), puppeteer and creator of Puppet Arts at the University of Connecticut.