Puppets in Paradise

About the Event

September 9 & 10, 2023 at Retreat Farm
More information soon!
In 2021 Sandglass Theater’s most beloved community event, Puppets in Paradise, brought together artists and audiences for a two-day celebration of puppetry and theater arts set in the beautiful agrarian landscape of Southern Vermont. This premier biennial family event was produced with Retreat Farm, a prominent feature of the Brattleboro landscape for 180 years. Historically, this event has been a significant fundraiser for our organization. Puppets in Paradise 2021 was free to all.

Last year we were honored to present nine different artists’ performances:

Harlem River Drive celebrates the history and diversity of the world’s most famous black community --New York City’s Harlem by famed New York City puppeteer Bruce Cannon. Bruce Cannon is a native New Yorker, born in Harlem and cultivated in Manhattan. He has been the Artistic Director of the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre for 24 years where he has been an integral part of the theatre since 1975.

Sycorax ex Machina is a new excerpt from Hadley Mays’ full-length theatre piece, Sycorax, to be completed in 2022. It was conceived in Brazil, and developed during the Black Puppeteers empowerment grant and creative research residency. The cosmovision that frames the multicultural witches and witchdom of the piece is of ancient Yoruba origin and its mythic languaging of space; composed into this machine through Contemplative dance practice. Hadley Mays is an actress, interdisciplinary performing artist, theater deviser, teacher and workshop facilitator. She has worked and studied in many cultures within contemporary, ancient and postmodern traditions.

The Great Escape, conceived and performed by Jennifer Miller, is performed with a straight jacket and chains as passed down from the 2nd cousin of Harriet Houdini. This act also serves as a ritual healing for the madness of our world. Jennifer Miller is an international writer, director and performer and the director and founder of Circus Amok – a circus extravaganza that has been touring the parks of New York annually since 1994. She is the recipient of an OBIE, a “Bessie”, and an Ethyl Eichelberger Award. She had a 10 year stint at Coney Island Sideshow by the Seashore. She is a Professor of Performance at Pratt Institute.

Café Parisian, by Dave Regan, finds Malvina and Orville at an emotional crossroads and a journey to France in the hope of saving their relationship. Will the magic of Paris re-kindle their love? Or will an unexpected turn of events crush their hopes forever? Dave Regan has been embroiled in the puppetry world for 30 years—working variously as performer, designer, builder, and instructor—and has joyfully been a part of Sandglass Theater's extended family for more than 20 of those years. He is currently the Technical Director/Scenic Designer at New England Youth Theatre in Brattleboro.

Judy Saves the Day is Sarah Nolen’s modern interpretation of the traditional "Punch and Judy" show, and a hilarious, timely, hand-crafted farce that the whole family will enjoy! Sarah Nolen is a puppeteer & filmmaker from Austin, Texas. After jumping from Texas to Connecticut for a Masters of Fine Arts in Puppetry from UConn, Sarah worked a year-long stint of puppet gigs in New York before moving to Boston in 2017 to become Puppet Showplace Theater’s third-ever Resident Artist. She is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Waltham, MA.

Marvelous Metamorphoses, by Sova Dance and Puppet Theater, unravels the bizarre and beautiful transformations in our world like caterpillar to butterfly, polliwog to frog, and more! The performers dance & sing their way through natural transformations celebrating them for our sustained joy and ecological health on this planet. Sova Dance and Puppet Theater celebrates humanity and the environment by engaging audiences through live performance, communicating that which cannot be described in words and making art accessible to communities around the globe. Their goal is to begin with laughter and dramatic surprise to catch attention and excitement for learning and experiencing the beauty of our world.

DayDreaming, by Theatre Adventure, is an invitation to enter a dream world—a world that lifts one's spirits, a world that knows no boundaries and limits, a world that, with buoyancy, helps to ignite one’s dreams. Theatre Adventure is a Brattleboro based not for profit that empowers youth and adults with disabilities through the expressive arts, lifting spirits, igniting dreams and encouraging confidence. The performers are Alauna Boyer, Brian White, Evan Cross, Katharine Breunig, Jenny Rainville, and Susan Mandell.

The Mane Thing offers a whimsical and humorous experience of the “humanette”, a unique puppetry style. In this new work by Heidi Tungseth, there is a fantastical creature prowling the forests of Vermont. She sparkles, has one horn, and a beautiful mane of hair. What happens when a unicorn loses her mane? Heidi Tungseth is a multi-disciplinary artist and teacher who built out a van to teach piano and perform in as she drove across the country to work on a regenerative farm in Putney, VT. She studied comedy improv at the Groundlings in Los Angeles, co-launched an award-winning show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival, and performed in variety shows, slams, the Skirball Center and the televised “Gong Show.” She is excited to continue connecting with the puppetry and artist community of the Northeast!

The Climate Crankie is a hand-cranked theater in a suitcase. Using poignant imagery and swift narration accompanied by the wit and whimsy of live guitar, this piece, by Janna Zeller with Peter Siegel, unveils the significance of the element Carbon and its effect on the modern world. Jana Zeller has practiced the art of puppetry for twenty years, playing marionettes, rod puppets, shadow puppets and hand puppets. Her work has been presented in the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany and India. She delights in performing for children of all ages, and has spent the past six years touring New England with her cast of disreputable hand puppets. Peter Siegel's band The Gaslight Tinkers' blend of global rhythms creates a joyously danceable sound around a core of traditional New England old time and celtic fiddle music, merging boundless positive energy with melody and song. Since its formation in 2012 the band has lit up the East Coast, the West Coast, and the Caribbean, headlining clubs, dances, and major festivals.

Bad Bedsheet Philosophy & Existability Show breathes new life into discarded old bed sheets. Peter Schumann uses these cast off, landfill bound textiles to create a painted series of "handouts" that represent our greatest community resource: our hands and how we use them. Bread and Puppet, founded by Peter Schumann in the early 1960s and based in Glover since 1974, has been a politically active puppet theater for over 50 years. Performing outdoor pageants and circuses, building distinctive papier-mâché and burlap puppets, and building community, this groundbreaking experimental theater has long been a voice for activism and against injustice. Today we also honor the life of Elka Schumann, whose personal and artistic partnership with her husband, Peter, was a guiding force of Bread and Puppet Theater for almost 60 years.

Joining Bread and Puppet is Broke in Idyll Stage Band featuring:

Cole Gibson (he/him) - Fiddle and Guitar
Arthur Davis (he/him) - Trumpet
Rhys Glennon (he/they) - Trumpet
Riley Goodemote (he/him) - Trombone and Flugabone
Jackson Stein (they/them) - Bass
Eddie Gaudet (he/him) - Drum Set

Broke in Idyll Stage Band takes tunes from the Roma and Jewish traditions of Eastern Europe, fiddle and brass music from the American south and northeast, and their own original compositions and shakes them all around in a hat. Whatever falls out is incorrigibly ebullient.

Thank you to our funders

This project is funded in part by grants from the George W. Mergens Foundation, the Price Chopper Golub Foundation, the Thomas Thompson Trust, a Vermont Community Foundation Spark Grant, the Windham Foundation, and the generous support of the many individual donors who contributed to our 2021 Mid-year campaign in support of Puppets in Paradise.

Performances by Sova Dance and Puppet Theater and Sarah Nolen are funded in part by the New England States Touring program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts Regional Touring Program and the six New England state arts agencies.

Puppets in Paradise is sponsored by People's United Bank.