Puppet Lab

Puppet Lab is our emerging artist incubator. Facilitated by Alison Heimstead, this program is entering its 8th year of radical, genre-expanding, boundary-pushing work.

Four emerging puppet artists have received the $2,500 Puppet Lab grant: Akiko, Tara Fahey,   Kallie Melvin, and Andrew Young. Going into its eighth year, previous Puppet Lab recipients include Daniel Polnau, Eben Kowler, Chamindika Wanduragala, and Steve Ackerman.

Puppet Lab creates space for emerging puppet and mask theater artists to advance their artistic development – to test and create new works within a supportive and challenging workshop environment.

Save the date for their performances: March 15-17 and March 22-24!

About This Year's Recipients:

Akiko is a multidisciplinary artist whose work directly reflects her experience as an immigrant woman of color, with an emphasis on community engagement and social justice.

“I am developing a 20 minute piece about white supremacy and white fear from an immigrant point of view. This piece will be based on three pieces of poetry I created, which all center around white supremacy and white fear. Puppetry will be used as a visual layer to break down the text (poetry) portion.”   


Tara Fahey is an artist, teacher, and performer. Growing throughout the past twelve years with Barebones Productions, as a section designer of lantern and dimensional puppets and strengthened through camaraderie and collective work with Chicks on Sticks, a Mpls.based women’s stilt troupe, there is a spark to explore through independent work.

“Devotion is an immersive puppet epic unfurling the dynamic elements of the ocean through Rachel Carson’s life and my own attraction to her struggles. I understand devotion to plant and human beings and the essential need for creative process, and feel echos in myself of Rachel Carson’s devotion to writing, the non-human world, and care-taking complexities.”


Kallie Melvin is an emerging puppeteer and theater maker. She was adopted from Kolkata, India and grew up in the Twin Cities.

“In my piece titled "Not here, not there," I will explore what it means and feels like to be an adult, international adoptee with Attention Deficit Disorder and my relation to the question “Where are you from?” through various forms of puppetry including shadow, mask, and hand puppets.”


Andrew Young is a Taiwanese-Indonesian-American visual and performance artist interested in the natural world, our inner lives, ancestry, and the ways we connect with each other. An emerging puppeteer, Andrew is excited to continue to explore the possibilities of shadow puppets, as well as masks, giant puppets, and ways different forms of puppetry can be combined.

“For my show I'm interested in exploring more questions about my ancestors, how they became the people they were. I want to explore the immigrant experience, the struggles of my parents and their parents. How do you find identity when the ground beneath you shifts, and what do you hold on to? What does it mean to be Asian-American?”


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Andrew headshot

What is Puppet Lab?

Puppet Lab is a developmental laboratory for artists working within the medium of puppetry. Four artists or collaborative teams will be selected on the basis of a proposed project that will be work-shopped from mid-August 2018 through February 2019. The Puppet Lab program culminates in a public performance at In the Heart of the Beast Theatre (HOBT) in March 2019.

Puppet Lab establishes a formalized process for emerging puppet and mask theater artists to advance their artistic development – to test and create new works within a supportive and challenging workshop environment. This program gives artists the time and space to test ideas, learn from others, and receive and respond to critical feedback.

We are interested in pushing the boundaries of what we collectively consider to be “puppet theater”. We are curious and stimulated by exploratory, experimental, and innovative performance. We are interested in ideas that work within traditional forms as well as projects that are new in every way.

We treasure supporting artists who have worked with puppets as well as artists of other disciplines who are interested in delving into a new art form: shadow puppetry, hand puppets, masks, found objects, automatons, any and all sized spectacles, rod puppets, bunraku, miniature installation, marionettes, ventriloquism, integrated media, cantastoria, toy theater, animated projections or new inventions of any of these ancient forms. We look deeply into how stories (ideas, concept or content) are shared through the means of puppetry.

This program is made possible by generous support from the Jerome Foundation.

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