The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry will present the grand opening of its new exhibition Obstreperous Puppets: The Puppeteers Cooperative on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. “We are very happy that Sara Peattie has curated this exhibition for the Ballard Institute,” Ballard Director John Bell said, “and excited to see all these amazing puppets of different sizes and shapes brought together after years of performances in communities all over the Northeast.” This exhibition will be on display through Sunday, October 8, 2017.
Co-founded by Sara Peattie and George Konnoff in 1976, the Boston-based Puppeteers Cooperative is one of the most prolific, yet un-acclaimed, puppet companies in New England. Peattie, Konnoff, and their colleagues have designed and built puppets with community groups for pageants and celebrations across the United States, including Boston’s famed First Night, the Downtown Mansfield Festival in Storrs. Many of these creations are also available to the general public through the Puppeteers Cooperative’s Puppet Free Library, located in the basement of Boston’s Emmanuel Church. “Puppeteers secretly suspect that their puppets have lives of their own,” Peattie comments, “and these puppets really do. Because they are in the Puppet Free Library, they wander off, go places I don’t know about or that I can’t get entrance to, and come back with human thanks, or even on occasion reappear with no explanation, somewhat battered and smelling oddly, to resume their places in my life, but to be greeted on the street as old friends by people who are strangers to me.”
Peattie’s Obstreperous Puppets exhibition at the Ballard Institute will include a walk-through forest of giant flowers, fern banners, and animal puppets from Puppeteers Cooperative pageants; toy theater shows; city spirits and giant animals; and an immersive puppet sea, inhabited by big blue faces, blue dragons, and illuminated fishes reading a Book of the Sea. The June 22 exhibition opening will also feature Peattie’s masked character Ms. Mouse, who, according to the curator, “will knit and greet visitors wordlessly, and sometimes show them around the exhibition.” Ms. Mouse’s Art Emporium will also be part of the exhibition, offering puppets, flags, masks, and cheap art.
In conjunction with this exhibition and the 14th annual Celebrate Mansfield Festival, the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and Mansfield Downtown Partnership will host a free two-day puppet-building workshop with Sara Peattie on September 9 and 10 at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Workshop participants will help to design and build life-size and over-life-size puppets for the Celebrate Mansfield Parade in downtown Storrs. Workshop participants will be invited to parade with their puppets as part of the Celebrate Mansfield Parade on Sunday, September 17 at noon. No experience is necessary to take part in these workshops. More information will be released at the end of summer.
As part of the Ballard’s Fall Puppet Forum Series, on Thursday, September 21 at 7:00 p.m. Obstreperous Puppets curator Sara Peattie will discuss her work building puppets with the Puppeteers Cooperative and organizing the Puppet Free Library.