Puppeteer Faye Dupras astounds audience with ‘The Great Red Ball Rescue’


Award-winning puppeteer Faye Dupras performs during a showing of “The Great Red Ball Rescue” at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, Connecticut on Saturday, March 5, 2016. (Matthew Zabierek/The Daily Campus)

Award-winning puppeteer Faye Dupras’ sold-out performance of “The Great Red Ball Rescue” astounded the audience at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Saturday afternoon.

“The Great Red Ball Rescue” is about a young boy named Jasper who loses his favorite red ball during a family trip to the beach. Jasper then goes on an adventure through the ocean to get his beloved toy back.

The Ballard Institute’s auditorium was filled with young children from Educational Playcare, a daycare in Storrs Center. The young audience responded enthusiastically to the show, which, according to the Ballard Institute’s website, is “guaranteed to bring joy to all ages.” 

Dupras had the children roaring with laughter at the beginning of her performance when, acting as Jasper, she pretended to be unable to get her big red ball to stay still. 

The show used a unique combination of several different styles of puppetry, from images projected on screens, to moving illustrations and actual stuffed puppets. 

It also featured an original score by Dana Colley, a founding member and saxophone player of the alternative rock band Morphine. 

Remarkably, the show never failed to entertain its young audience despite its total lack of dialogue. Besides a few recordings of Jasper’s “mother” calling out directions to him, Dupras rarely spoke during the performance, except when pretending to be a greedy fisherman who captures Jasper’s ball. 

“My ball! Mine!” she cried while the children in front of her giggled uncontrollably. 

Dupras possessed a remarkable ability to know just what the children watching her show wanted. One scene simply featured an “ocean” made up of large blue sheets and a fish puppet “swimming” around. Despite its simplicity that may have seemed boring to an older audience, the children were enthralled.

“It’s a fish up there!” cried one child. 

“I see it!” shouted another. 

However, though the show was largely geared towards children, older audience members loved it as well. 

“I just thought it was really interesting. It was so imaginative and definitely not what I expected from a puppet show, but definitely exceeded my expectations,” said Heidi Andrew of Dudley, Massachusetts. 

Dupras, creator and performer of the show, earned her MFA in Puppet Arts from the University of Connecticut and has designed, directed, and built for several companies in the United States and Canada.

“The Great Red Ball Rescue” was the third show of the Ballard Institute’s Spring Puppet Performance Series, a set of Saturday afternoon shows geared towards family audiences. 

The final installment of this series is “Help Save the Monkey!” by Marta Mozelle MacRostie and Liz Hara on April 9.

Helen Stec is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at helen.stec@uconn.edu.

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