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Chicago is well-known for its art presence, and one of the most surprising forms the city showcases is puppetry. The Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival is a renowned event for puppetry in the U.S. and will make its anticipated comeback in 2022.
About the Puppet Theater Festival
Since its creation in 2015, the festival has highlighted puppeteers from around the world and in Chicago. Artists from nations such as Iran, Korea, Chile, and Europe travel each year with the hopes of sharing their masterpieces with an audience of over 14,000 guests. Unfortunately, it has been on an extended hiatus since the beginning of the pandemic, but news that the puppet theater reopens in 2022 has many fans excited for its return.
Its fourth edition comprises over 100 puppetry activities in a span of 11 days. Unfortunately, due to COVID-related travel restrictions, the international part of the festival’s experience will sadly be unavailable. However, the festival will still promote puppetry artists from across the U.S. during January 20-30, 2022.
A Variety of Performances
From socially conscious installations to re-tellings of literary classics, this year’s puppet theater schedule includes a vast array of thought-provoking artworks. “The Plastic Bag Store” by Robin Frohart will appear on the ground floor of the Wrigley building on Michigan Avenue. The New York artist has packed a make-shift store with hand-sculpted items made from discarded plastic. In a recent article, the Chicago Tribune stated that Frohart hopes to “inspire new perspectives on the perils of single-use plastic.”
Another exciting piece comes from Lydia Diamond’s adaptation of Toni Morrison’s classic coming-of-age novel of the same name. “The Bluest Eye,” which was co-created by Margaret Laurena Kemp and Janni Younge, is a contemporary piece highlighting the stigma of being African-American from a young girl’s perspective. Through puppetry at the DuSable Museum of African American History, the story will come to life.
Reaching Out to Chicago Communities
Besides viewing the captivating shows and installations, there are many other ways to get involved in this year’s festival. The festival adds details about their opening night events, workshops, and catapult artist intensives on their website. Interested families can even partake in free neighborhood tours, where the beauty and wonders of the puppet theater are brought to remote locations in the city.
Thanks to the efforts of the festival’s free neighborhood tours, districts like North Lawndale can enjoy the festivities closer to home. The 345 Art Gallery is a proud partner of the puppet theater festival and is only a few blocks away from Garfield Park. They will be hosting three nationally acclaimed puppet artists – Ty Defoe, Jerrel L. Henderson, and Joshua Holden – in a free showcase of their individual short works. Puppet enthusiasts and curious minds of all ages are welcome to explore the world of puppetry with the art gallery on Sunday, January 23 at 4 p.m.
Written by Ogechi Onyewuchi
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Tribune: Chicago’s Puppet Theater Fest returns for 2022 with old favorites and the wildly new, broadening what you expect from a puppet show; by Doug George
Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival: Free Neighborhood Tour: Fostering an Appreciation of Puppetry Throughout the City
Featured Image Courtesy of Filip Maljković’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License
First Inline Image Courtesy of Ed Schipul’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License
Second Inline Image Courtesy of Pat Kight’s Flickr Page- Creative Commons License