Enter the land of shadow puppets. Beginning April 1 at the Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry.

The Ballard Institute & Museum of Puppetry’s season kicks off from 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 1, 2012 with the exhibit “Red Gate: Pauline Benton and Chinese Shadow Theater in the United States.”

The hundreds of notably rare figures in this exhibit are from Benton’s extensive collection–a treat, since Benton is known as an American puppetry “innovator” in the 20th century with her introduction of Chinese shadow theater to the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s. Her shows–performed by the Red Gate Shadow Players–were seen across the country and brought the Chinese culture to life. Benton is also known as an influencer in defining today’s puppetry and other art.

The institute is the perfect place to show her work, which will also include photos, programs and countless other pieces of her career. The show will be curated by Stephen Kaplin and Kuang-Yu Fong of New York’s Chinese Theater Works, and biographer Grant Hayter-Menzies, who chronicles the lives of influential women, will be at the opening to read excerpts of her life and work. Chinese Theater Works will also put on a live shadow performance.

And, Benton’s portable screen and a hands-on stage will be part of the exhibit, so visitors can try their own shadow puppetry.

I can’t think of a better way to open the season, especially if you’re a puppet buff! It runs through December, so there’s plenty of time to get here.
Check the website as well for other activities at the Ballard relating to the exhibit.

Combine with a trip to UConn’s Dairy Bar for a nice afternoon.

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