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NEWS: The Puppet Lab Returns (Open Eye Theatre)

The latest leadership and residency artist cohort for Open Eye Theatre’s Puppet Lab. Clockwise from left: Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, Dominique Herskind, Mary Plaster, Amoke Awele Kubat, Liping Vong, and Oanh Vu.

Rain and snow may be making their return on Wednesday, but Open Eye Theatre has something better: the return of the Puppet Lab. This Minneapolis-based incubator program for emerging puppet and mask artists returns in spring 2022 with a series of workshops leading into a 2-week, public festival of performances.

The Puppet Lab program was originally created by Alison Heimstead In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre in 2010. Now housed at Open Eye Theatre, the Puppet Lab provides a formalized process for emerging puppet and mask theater artists to advance their artistic development, including testing and creating new works within a both supportive and challenging workshop environment. This program is specifically designed to give artists the time and space needed to test ideas, learn from others, and both receive and respond to critical feedback.

New this year are Oanh Vu and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra, who will join Open Eye’s leadership team as co-artistic directors of the Puppet Lab. Also joining are four residency artists: Dominique Herskind, Mary Plaster, Liping Vong, and Amoke Kubat. Each artist’s creative explorations will culminate in professionally produced works presented in a two-week festival of public performances in August.

“I am deeply honored that Puppet Lab’s founder, the visionary Alison Heimstead, has invited Open Eye to continue the program, and that the Jerome Foundation has continued their generous support,” says Joel Sass, the producing artistic director of Open Eye Theatre. “I could not be more excited for Oanh Vu and Rebekah Crisanta de Ybarra to join the Open Eye leadership team!”

Artistic and administrative successions for highly specialized resources are less common in the performing arts, as are workshop series transferring between organizations.

“I am thrilled to see that Puppet Lab is continuing with such brilliant leaders!” said Alison Heimstead, founder of PUPPET LAB. “Rebekah and Oanh are incredible artists and they will be strong, compassionate and critical leaders for this lab experience for many new and experimental voices in puppetry.”

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