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'Puppetology: An Evening of Uncommon Theater' at BC's Robsham Arts Center Theater Dec. 2

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CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (November 2012)  — The Boston College Theater Department will present a one-night festival —“Puppetology: An Evening of Uncommon Theater”—in conjunction with the department’s Rev. J. Donald Monan, S.J., Professorship in Theater Arts, which this year is held by scholar and artist John Bell, a leading international authority on puppet theater and its allied artistic forms of object theater and toy theater.

The event—which  will feature acclaimed artists Eric Bass, Beth Nixon, Lake Simons and Great Small Works, a troupe of which Bell is a founding member—will  take place in the Bonn Studio Theater, located in the University’s Robsham Theater Arts Center, on Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public, but advance reservations are required.   

“Puppetology” will feature each artist [bios below] performing a piece from their puppet and object theater repertoire. Eric Bass, the founder and artistic director of the Sandglass Theater in Putney, VT, will perform a selection from his award-winning solo show, “Autumn Portraits.” Beth Nixon, of Ramshackle Enterprises in Providence, RI, will perform a “portable puppet show,” drawn from her critically acclaimed Suitcase Series.

Lake Simons will debut “Portrait of Me As Others,” which explores the condition of being uncomfortable in one’s own skin and the temptation to try on new personas.

Great Small Works, featuring Bell, will perform a piece titled “Three Graces,” an op-art romp inspired by Grace Paley, Grace Kelly, Grace Jones and Grace Lee Boggs.

“Puppetry is exciting because of the way it brings so many different art forms together in performance: sculpture, music, acting, playwriting,” says Bell. “It’s always open to innovations as well—new technologies, new mash-ups of intercultural elements, new mixings of high and low culture. Students coming to “Puppetology” are going to be surprised, inspired and excited about what they see—the wide range of performance forms that constitutes contemporary work with puppets and objects.”

The festival is presented by the BC Theater Department as part of Bell’s year-long visiting professorship at Boston College.

“We want people to know that puppets are not just for kids. We want students to know that this type of work exists,” says Theater Department Chair and Associate Professor Scott T. Cummings. “And that dedicated artists do it for a living.  It's a hard life, but it's a creative life.” 

The Monan Professorship in Theater Arts—named for University Chancellor and former BC President J. Donald Monan, S.J.—enables the Theater Department to bring nationally and internationally recognized professional theater artists to work with, and teach, undergraduate students at the University. Bell is the sixth visiting Monan Professor in Theater Arts.

General admission tickets to “Puppetology”—for which  Matthew Giggey ’15 will serve as production coordinator—are free and available through the Robsham Theater Arts Center Box Office, or by calling 617-552-4002. Reservations are required due to limited availability. For more information, please go to www.bc.edu/theater.   

Artists’ Bios:

Eric Bass is co-founder and director of Vermont’s Sandglass Theater. He is an internationally renowned puppeteer whose innovations in puppet and object design, manipulation and dramaturgy have garnered multiple awards and honors in Europe and the United States. During a 26-year career in the puppet arts, he has made an international impact.

Beth Nixon is an interdisciplinary artist who works under the name Ramshackle Enterprises. Since 1998 she has been writing, building, performing and touring her own solo clown and puppet shows, collaborating with other artists, and frequently facilitating the creation of puppet parades, pageants, and performances with groups of children and adults.

Lake Simons work incorporates puppetry, movement and music. She has done extensive collaborative work and has a long association with the Hip Pocket Theatre in Fort Worth, Texas, where she has performed in more than 30 world premieres, presented seven collaborative works and directed seven plays. She has worked as a puppet and mask designer as well as a puppeteer, and is collaborating with artists from Japan’s  Kuruma-Ningyo Puppet Theatre.  

Great Small Works was founded in 1995 as a collective of artists who keep theater at the heart of social life, and draw on folk, avant-garde and popular theater traditions to address contemporary issues in  performances.  Based in New York City, the troupe produces performance works on a variety of scales, from outdoor pageants with giant puppets and hundreds of performers to miniature “toy theater” spectacles. The productions reinvent ancient, popular theater techniques: for example, toy theater, mask and object theater, circus, sideshow and picture-show (cantastoria).  

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