UConn hosting weeklong national puppetry festival
STORRS, Connecticut (AP) — Puppeteers from around the world began arriving at the University of Connecticut on Monday to participate in a weeklong festival of all things puppet.
The event is being held at the university for the first time since 1970 to help mark the 50th anniversary of the school’s Puppet Arts program. It is one of just three programs in the United States offering degrees in puppetry.
More than 500 puppeteers from 12 nations are expected to attend, including Carroll Spinney, the man behind characters such as Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on TV’s “Sesame Street.”
There also are free daily puppet workshops for kids, who will create sea-creature puppets out of found objects such as soda bottles and milk jugs.
The festival also will have a more serious side, with panel discussions on issues such as how to use puppets in therapy or law enforcement when children have been through sexual assaults or other trauma.
“Puppetry gives anyone who has been through a traumatic situation and who cannot deal with the situation the ability to put their voice in something else that can speak for them,” said Paul Robinson, executive director of the Puppeteers of America. “It transmits their voice into this object.”
The festival will culminate on Saturday with a puppet parade and a fair outside UConn’s Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry.
“The audience will see things that they love this week, and maybe some things they don’t like,” Roccoberton said. “But in any case, they are going to leave here challenged and they are going to leave here thinking.”