The recent visibility of puppet-based or enhanced theatre, from the ambitious works of directors Julie Taymor and Robert LePage to the experimental productions of small New York companies, will undoubtably energize the 1998 International Festival of Puppet Theatre, sponsored by the Jim Henson Foundation. The festival, which was founded in 1992, occurs every two years. The upcoming event will take place Sept. 9-27.
Festival officials expect 28 puppet productions performed on 17 different New York stages, including the Public Theatre, La MaMa E.T.C., Dance Theatre p, New Victory Theatre, and P.S. 122. Companies will hail from 16 countries. The foundation will also present a film series at the Guggenheim Museum, symposia, exhibitions and a late-night cabaret spotlighting emerging puppet theatre artists.
The festival will eventually tour, taking six shows to 19 different cities in the U.S. Cheryl Henson, daughter of the late creator of the muppets, is the event's executive producer.
Announced June 15, the line-up features such companies as Green Ginger from Wales, doing Slap Head: Demon Barber; Joan Baixas of Spain, who uses ashes from a burnt city library to create drawings in Terra Prenyada; Teatro Hugo & Ines, offering Short Stories that utilize human hands and feet as the puppets themselves; Youki-Za from Japan, a marionette troupe founded in 1631; and NY's own Cosmic Bicycle Theatre, offering the whimsical science fiction of Dr. Kronopolis and the Timekeeper Chronicle. Also expected is a collaboration between dance/theatre artist Ping Chong, Jon Ludwig and Mitsuru Ishii on Kwaidan, based on the writings of journalist Lafcadio Hearn, who spent his later life in Japan.