The Puppet Arts Program aims to awaken artists and develop leaders in the field of puppetry and all aspects of the performing arts. With attention to history, theory and practice, our faculty and staff encourage Puppet Arts students to develop a vivid imagination, curiosity for human relationships and a fearless approach toward creative expression resulting in groundbreaking productions.
Dedicated spaces and resources within the Puppet Arts Complex and innovative courses in performance, directing, technique, design, technology, fabrication, history, production, and devising, empower our Minor, Certificate, BFA, and MA/MFA students to discover their own artistic voices.
Participating in Connecticut Repertory Theatre productions and our local, regional, national, and international partnerships in theatre, film, television, and digital media affords our students opportunities to join the global artistic community and to push beyond established boundaries to explore the future possibilities of puppetry as an art form. Collaborations with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry provide opportunities for research, teaching, and public engagement.
Puppet Arts alumni are among the leading figures in the field, both nationally and internationally.
History of Puppet Arts at UConn
Classes in puppetry were first taught at UConn in 1964 by Professor Frank W. Ballard, who had joined the faculty of Theatre Department as a set designer and technical director eight years earlier. After three years, the demand for these courses had grown so drastically that the department had to limit enrollment in puppetry classes. In 1965, when the Graduate School sought to expand its offerings, Professor Ballard developed an MFA degree in Puppetry. In 1968. following the first full-stage puppet production, The Mikado, which was presented in the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater, UConn established BFA and MA degrees in the Puppetry.
Graduates of the Puppet Arts Program perform, design and fabricate for theatres around the world. They appear in, build for and manage internationally recognized television programs and films, write books, design toys, teach children, and direct prominent schools and museums.
In 1990, Bart. P. Roccoberton, Jr. succeeded Frank Ballard as Director of the Puppet Arts Program. In addition to the full-stage Puppet Productions that are mounted for the Department’s Connecticut Repertory Theatre, puppetry majors are encouraged to mount their own productions, which are presented at the university and toured to schools, museums and theatres. Nearly 500 student puppet productions have been created since 1964.