Children's Fine Arts Series Announces its International Puppet Festival

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Puppet Festival First of its Kind in Texas

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Puppetry is a popular and ancient genre of performing arts

For the past 31 years, the Children's Fine Arts Series—under the direction of its creator and sole director Kathleen Miller—has brought premier performing arts programs by acclaimed national and international touring companies to the young children of San Antonio and south Texas. The Children's Fine Arts Series (CFAS) is the only presenter of performing arts in San Antonio exclusively for young children ages three to 10; performances are one hour long, to accommodate the attention span of the young child.

It has long been a dream to Miller to expand her series to include an international puppet festival for children. Now, because of a generous bequeath from the estate of a supporter, Miller’s dream becomes a reality in May when she will present the Children’s International Puppet Festival—the first of its kind in Texas. The only time these international shows will appear in Texas is at this Puppet Festival.

As with her Children’s Fine Arts Series, the festival will be sophisticated presentations geared to children age three to 10. There will be 59 performances by seven different performance companies; multiple shows will be available each day. Performances are 45 minutes to one hour long. All shows will occur at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

“Puppetry is a popular and ancient genre of performing arts,” says Miller. “It is an art form dating back to the Medieval Ages, yet it is as captivating today. There is something magical about a miniature inanimate ‘character’ that comes to life, speaks, sings and dances. The professional touring companies we are bringing to the Puppet Festival are some of the best and most skilled in the world.”

As in past years since 1989, the Children's Fine Arts Series and the Puppet Festival will invite children and teachers from inner city schools, Title I schools and children/family agencies to attend the weekday performances with free admission. More than 200,000 have attended performances in the past, made possible by the generous contributions of corporations, foundations, businesses, professionals and individuals, as well as many volunteers. Performances on weekday mornings are for elementary schools, home schools and child care centers; public shows are on weekends and 6:30 p.m. performances during the week.

TICKETS: Ticket packages for the Puppet Festival include six tickets for $42; four tickets for $32; and individual tickets are $10 each. The public can purchase tickets for the weekday evening and weekend daytime/evening shows at Tickets for weekday shows are available at

Children’s International Puppet Festival

May 6 and 7, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 6:30 p.m.
by Tears of Joy Theatre, Portland, OR
Tobin Center, West Rotunda
Suggested age: all ages
Limited seating: 100
Running time: 55 minutes

  •     Tears of Joy Theatre performs an innovative show for both children and adults, bringing to life folktales from Mexico and Argentina. They are inspired by a tale from the Huichol Indians of Mexico, descendants of the Aztecs, and a story by Horacio Quiroga of Argentina. The script spun from tales of friendship, dedication and family is spare, sweet, with clever touches of adult-level wordplay. The puppets through whimsical vocal characterizations and deft maneuvering, elicit delight and sorrow. The performance incorporates simple Spanish words and phrases, giving the children a brief cultural immersion.

May 6, 7, and 8, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
by LE CLAN DES SONGES, Venerque, France
Tobin Center, Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre
Suggested age: 3 and up
Limited seating: 90
Running time: 50 minutes

  •     Embarking on a strange journey, this little, fragile and lonely man has a unique companion: a bag enclosing an entire magical world. This is a poetic show that explores imbalance and instability and an upside down universe in which happiness is won when we cross our own limits. In silent theatre, music becomes language as much as the images and the lighting. The puppeteers mainly use the Bunraku theater technique (three-man puppet manipulation), which gives the moving object its magic by allowing rapid movement and weightlessness.

May 7 and 8, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
May 9, 2015 at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
May 10, 2015 at 12 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.
by Mimika Theatre, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
Tobin Center, East Rotunda
Suggested age: 3 and up
Limited seating: 30
Running time: 50 minutes

  •     Mimika Theatre presents a non-verbal exploration of the atmosphere, movements, rhythms and sounds of four contrasting areas of the natural world. A theatre of remarkable visual effects and transformations are set inside a beautiful calico dome. The sun rises over a buzzing DESERT, a chick hatches—the Eagle leaves the nest in search of food. The journey begins. The RAINFOREST where Apes, butterflies, spiders and birds are all drawn to a clutch of eggs on the riverbank. The Crocodile is always on guard. SEA—a crowded kaleidoscope of constant movement, the large and small; the speedy and slow; the beautiful and ugly; the familiar and bizarre. ANTARCTIC where snow, wind, cold and ice provide a harsh but beautiful background for the setting sun at journey’s end.

May 9, 2015 at 10:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m., 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.
May 10, 2015 at 1:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
May 11, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
May 12, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
by Golden Dragon Water Puppets of Saigon, Vietnam
Tobin Center, Carlos Alvarez Studio Theatre
Suggested age: 3 and up
Limited seating: 200
Running time: 50 minutes

  •     This company is one of Vietnam’s national treasures, a company that furthers the magical and time honored tradition of puppetry on water. This astonishing art form, which is now over a thousand years old, offers a glimpse of a cultural tradition that defines the essence of Vietnam. The program consists of short vignettes, which contrasts lyrical contentment with playful action and comic turns. We learn the myth and folklore of this bright and bold country through inspired and centuries old choreography and dance, as well as the daily life of the fishing and farming villages. The action is accompanied by the music of a small orchestra played on centuries-old instruments. The musicians sing and provide voices for the puppets.

May 9, 2015 at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
by Wood and Strings Theatre, Centerville, TN
Tobin Center, West Rotunda
Suggested age: 7 and up
Limited seating: 100
Running time: 50 minutes

  •     A pompous samurai overlord arrives at the shrine of Benten, the goddess of good fortune, to ask for a suitable husband for his beautiful daughter, Lotus. The goddess sends a humble fisherman to meet the daughter. They fall in love but Yukio, the young man, feels he is unworthy. The father, outraged, changes the fisherman into a dragon. Using elegant reproductions of the classic Bunraku puppets of Japan, a romantic poignant drama unfolds that reaches into the world of myth and legend to portray a young man’s journey of self-discovery. His encounters with traditional folk puppets from North America, England and Indonesia give exotic glimpses of different puppetry styles. A post-show informance examines the various styles of puppetry and the cultures that create them.

May 10, 2015 at 11 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
by Wood and Strings Theatre, Centerville, TN
Tobin Center, River Walk Plaza
Free event with purchase of any ticket to a Puppet Festival performance
Suggested age: all ages

  •     This is an interactive strolling puppet experience featuring a truly wild cast of characters. For months they have planned the perfect escape, a breakout from the city zoo! They are free from their cages and on the run. With the determined (but dim) zookeeper hot on their tails, net in hand, the fugitive animals must blend in with the regular folk. Their very freedom depends on their ability to pass themselves off as human. Who would suspect a rhino in a Hawaiian shirt? Wood and Strings Theatre uses the captivating and comprehensive nature of art to engage the imagination, create experiences full of meaning, and provide tools to build positive solutions for life’s challenges.

Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 12, 3:30 and 5 p.m.
Monday, May 11, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
by Matt Sandbank’s Shadow Factory, Nashville, TN.
Tobin Center, West Rotunda
Free event with purchase of any ticket to a Puppet Festival performance
Suggested age: all ages
Running time: 45 minutes

  •     Come along, come along, on a wild goose chase! Who knows where it might lead? Perhaps to a world filled with dancing pants, guitar rockin’ grandmothers, mischievous spaceships, and many more whimsical images. Matt Sandbank performs shadow puppet shows that enliven the imagination, awaken curiosity about the world, and excite young audiences about the power of creativity.

May 11 and 12, 2015 at 9:45 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
by Paul Mesner Puppets, Kansas City, MO
Tobin Center, East Rotunda
Suggested age: 3 and up
Running time: 50 minutes

  •     The telling of this classic tale comes with a very contemporary twist. When Little Red finds the wolf disguised in her Grandmother’s clothes, she uses her self-defense moves to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget! The goal is to have fun and laugh often. From this classic tale Paul Mesner Puppets brings to the fore some quirky and unusual detail of this oft told story. These variations offer vivid glimpses into our rich cultural heritage and a different approach to the story we all know–or think we know–so well. Paul Mesner has worked as a puppeteer for more than 30 years. He was chosen as one of fifteen puppet-artists from around the world to study with master puppeteers at the International Institute of Puppetry in Charleville-Mezieres. In 1992 Paul received the highest honor in puppetry, the UNIMA/USA Citation of Excellence in Puppetry, an award created by Jim Henson.

For more information, visit or contact the Children’s Fine Arts Series at (210) 340-4060 or Kathy(at)childrensfineartseries(dot)org.

MEDIA NOTE:        Photos and more detailed entertainment and staging schedules are available from Jeanne Albrecht, upon request (210/392-9047; jca(at)jeannebiz(dot)com). Comp media tickets and advance/event interviews should be coordinated through Jeanne Albrecht or Kathleen Miller.

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