Puppetry. What an extraordinary alchemy that simple word conjures up. Hand puppets. Finger puppets. Puppets on strings. Puppets on rods. Puppets on stilts. For children, for adults. Puppets dating back to ancient times in China, spreading to every country in the world, telling tales of laughter and tears through life until death. All told by inanimate characters operated by masters of the art of puppetry, a theater art as old as civilization. It’s storytelling at its dramatic best.
America has a long history of puppet artists, and one of them had been beguiling audiences in the States for years: Jim Henson, the creative genius behind the Muppets. We all fell in love with Cookie Monster, Miss Piggy, and Kermit, Henson’s alter ego. As his work grew in popularity, Henson dreamed bigger dreams for his art form. He envisaged a festival on American soil that would attract the best of puppetry artists from around the world, as well as the States. Unfortunately, he never saw his hopes fulfilled: The first International Henson Festival became a reality two years after his death.