Welcome to Puppet Showplace Theater

Puppet Showplace Theater 2013

Puppet Showplace Theater is New England’s favorite puppetry destination.  Each year, we present over 300 performances by professional puppet companies at our Brookline Village theater.  Our touring shows travel to schools, libraries, and cultural centers throughout the Northeast region.

We offer workshops, classes, summer camps, and training opportunities to both children and adults, and we partner with local and emerging artists to develop new work.  

We share our passion for puppetry as a vital, living art form and strive to engage audiences of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.  We support the use of puppetry for entertainment, in education, and as a means of creative self-expression.

After 40+ years of operations, our theater has become a treasured cultural institution. Puppet Showplace is run by an experienced staff and volunteer board of trustees.  We are supported by contributions from individual donors, local businesses, and foundation and government grants. From children’s birthday party performances to provocative Puppets at Night shows, our programming is designed to reach a large and diverse audience.

Our Mission

Puppet Showplace Theater is dedicated to presenting outstanding professional puppetry to diverse audiences through performances, workshops, and community outreach activities.

Mary Churchill, Founder of Puppet Showplace.

Mary Churchill, Founder of Puppet Showplace.

Our History

Puppet Showplace Theater was founded in June 1974 by visionary educator and puppeteer Mary Churchill. Mary’s company, The Cranberry Puppets, performed shows featuring a cast of crocheted characters.  Mary was known for her witty adaptations of children’s stories that featured strong female protagonists.  She was a regular performer, tireless administrator, and generous benefactor of the theater until her death in 1997.

From the day it opened, Puppet Showplace became a home for touring puppet companies from across New England and beyond.  Many performers became regulars, appearing on stage each season and contributing to the financial support and governance of the theater.  Puppet Showplace was also home of the New England Puppetry Guild (now the Boston Area Guild of Puppetry).  

Paul Vincent Davis, Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace from 1977-2009.

Paul Vincent Davis, Artist in Residence at Puppet Showplace from 1977-2009.

In 1977, puppeteer Paul Vincent Davis became the theater’s Artist in Residence.  While at Puppet Showplace, Paul developed over a dozen productions for youth and family audiences.  Paul received 5 UNIMA citations for his work, the highest recognition in American puppetry.  He was also the subject of the book Puppeteer by Karen Lasky, which documented the behind-the-scenes development of his production of “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp.”  Paul remained active as a performer until his retirement in 2007.  Davis continues to teach and mentor young puppeteers and serves on the Puppet Showplace Board of Trustees. 

Brad Shur, Resident Artist at Puppet Showplace since 2009.

Brad Shur, Resident Artist at Puppet Showplace since 2009.

In 2009, Brad Shur became Puppet Showplace Theater’s Resident Artist.  Under Paul’s mentorship, Brad trained in the art of glove puppetry and learned to perform three of the master puppeteer’s classic shows.  He also began developing original productions that incorporate numerous styles of puppetry, from elaborate shadow puppets to full-body puppets.

Puppet Showplace now serves a diverse audience of over 24,000 patrons annually.  In 2013/14 audiences came from 358 Massachusetts towns, 32 States, and five foreign countries.  Although over 90% of the audience comes from the Boston Metro region, close to 7% of our patrons travel more than 50 miles to attend our performances.

Our programming has grown over the years to include camps and classes, school residencies, and presenting collaborations with major cultural institutions. Puppet Showplace is also credited with creating the country’s first adult “puppet slam,” a cabaret-style of short form puppet theater now popular across North America. 

Puppet Showplace has received numerous awards and recognitions over the years, from an Eliot Norton Award Citation for “Keeping the ancient art of puppetry alive for audiences of all ages,” to the Boston Parents Paper’s listings as “Favorite Family Entertainer” and “Best Birthday Party Place”.  Today, Puppet Showplace Theater’s success is reflected in our audience, which includes the children of children who attended shows when the theater was first founded.