Quarantine ArtBursts

Sandglass artists and associates share short-form offerings that connect with our current projects, center in our mission, and uplift your spirit.
photo by Kiqe Bosch


MUD, originally titled The Ballad of the Muddy Road, was first written for a 2010 Sandglass Theater production called All Weather Ballads. Words by Eric Bass, music by Keith Murphy, and further developed and performed with Nick Keil. Here’s Eric and Ines in the two-person version at the 2016 Puppets in Paradise event in the gardens of Gordon and Mary Hayward in Westminster West, Vermont. It continues to be one of Sandglass’ most popular short pieces.


Cooped Up Kids from Next Stage Arts Project: Ines Zeller Bass

To all the KIDS!!!!! "Cooped Up Kids" is for all the silliest kids looking for entertainment and FUN! Parents, enjoy this content from Next Stage Arts based in Putney, Vermont. From local to global and back again, Next Stage is providing content during these times of social distancing.

Ines Zeller Bass, Co-Founding Artistic Director of Sandglass Theater in Putney, VT, has been performing with puppets since 1968, when she became a member of the Munich marionette theater, Kleines Spiel. In 1978, she created her children’s hand puppet theater, Punschi, which toured Europe, Australia and the US. In 1982, Ines co-founded Sandglass Theater with husband Eric. Ines started Sandglass Theater’s program for family audiences. Together with Eric, she teaches their approach to puppetry performance and devised composition in workshops in Vermont and abroad. She designed the puppets and set for Natan El Sabio, a collaborative project with Teatro Luis Poma in El Salvador. Ines’ puppets and design for Babylon, Sandglass Theater’s newest production, include two of her many crankies. Ines toured in the Sandglass production of D-Generation, a piece about people with dementia. An UNIMA citation winner, Ines also received the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 2010.


The Carbon Crankie

by Jana Zeller
Earth Day is everyday.

It seems a particularly poignant time to honor the message of this recently celebrated annual event and integrate climate consciousness into our day-to-day practices. Amid our current health crisis, we are reminded to find the medicine that exists in our relationship with our earth, to enjoy the time we have right now to commune with the natural world, and to care for it with the understanding that, in so doing, we are caring for ourselves, each other and our future generations.

As we shelter-in-place, to "be home" may take on a larger meaning: a call to return to the land, and listen to the elders and land-stewards that have been offering this wisdom for generations. Today we honor not only the earth and landscape that gives us place, air and food, but also the farmers, the indigenous leaders, and the climate activists, who are all working to remind us how much we are part of a larger system, and how important it is that we protect our natural world at all costs.

Sandglass Theater Associate Artist, Jana Zeller (Spybird Theater) does classroom visits with her handmade Carbon Crankie followed by a question and answer session with students.


The Song of Letting Go

by Eric Bass

Here’s a tune I wrote for Flushing, the new show I am writing — and performing — with Linda Parris-Bailey. Linda just stepped back from Carpetbag Theatre, the ensemble she has directed for over 40 years. It is the longest continuously running African-American Theater company in the country. Linda and I were on the first board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters back around 2001. We discovered that we were raised only a few miles from each other, and only a few years apart, in Flushing, NY. Well, Linda was in Flushing, I was in Forest Hills. Now looking at my own process of turning Sandglass over to the next generation, Linda and I see that there is a story here, a journey of starting in the same place and arriving at the same brink, but taking different paths in the many years in between. So we are making a piece about legacy, transition, and about the act of letting go. This tune is called The Song of Letting Go, and I think it stands on its own.


Sima's homeland and song

Assadullah Akhlaqi served on the Sandglass board two years ago and this story is based on a story he shared with us about his mother’s flight from the Taliban.

Assad, his wife Guljan, and their son Yosuf are living in Putney. Guljan, who arrived with Yosuf only 8 months ago, is expecting a baby in June. Assad’s work has been severely curtailed by the coronavirus restrictions.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter sent out by their local support group:
Thank you for any support you can provide to the family. They have been through a lot. They are very appreciative of the generous welcome from the Vermont community in helping bring the family together again. Assad lost seven family members to violence in Afghanistan. The family has lived apart for most of Yosuf's life. Now Assad has been granted asylum and Guljan and Yosuf have asylum-seeker status. They are trying to make a good life together in America, but with limited work and schooling opportunities during these months right before the arrival of their second son, life is feeling pretty challenging.

If you are not able to support them financially at this time, the family appreciates you keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.

If you are able to provide financial assistance, please send a check or gift card to:
Assadullah Akhlaqi
23 Neumann Ln Apt #104
Putney VT 05346

Another way to support the Akhlaqi family is to hire Assad. If you need groceries or other items picked up and delivered in the local Putney/Brattleboro area please contact him at 802 238-1919 to support his business. He also is a skilled computer person and can advise/ support around tech needs. You can contact him for hourly rates for these services.


A Story of Survival

Adapted from Puppet Crimes

Jana Zeller, Founder of Spybird Theater and Sandglass Theater Associate Artist

A humble booth stands in the market place. Here, children gather and laugh at the slapstick and quick wit of the puppet play; adults gather and laugh at the jokes especially for them. A voice is given to the working people; an unrestrained voice that comes from a simple object made of cloth and wood.

The puppet is free to dream of a better future, rebel against oppression, and tell unprivileged stories of marginalized people, workers, and everyone that struggles to survive. Stories told in jest, metaphor and song.

The puppet’s story of survival is our own story of survival.

Puppetry is an ancient form of theater that can be traced as far back as 4000 years in nearly every culture. The art form is rooted in the process of telling stories with inanimate objects sometimes for the purpose of entertainment or as sacred ritual, and often as a catalyst for transformation and social change.

As people, we have always needed ways to tell our stories, remember our history, and envision the healing of human society. We need ways to communicate with each other, with divine forces, with our ancestors, and with deeper parts of ourselves. We need these tools to survive. We need these tools to transform.



Sandglass current project, Babylon is inspired by the once thriving city, booming with commerce, culture and exchange, which fell to civil war and destruction, and now sees many fleeing to seek safety in other countries.

As we shelter in our homes with loved ones nearby, our thoughts turn to the millions of people in refugee camps, without access to proper health care and resources for the pandemic of Covid-19.

As we care for our own communities and families, how do we maintain our global perspective, and understand that we are all in this together? We are caring for our world, and that includes its land, its life, and its people. Our healing will need to be a global one.

Community Asylum Seekers Project is responding to the evolving situation with COVID-19 by focusing on the safety of their guests, staff, and volunteers right her in Windham County. You can support their work and the safety of our newest community members by visiting https://caspvt.org/