In the summer of 1961, Nancy Schmale saw Bil and Cora Baird’s puppet play, “The Magic Onion” featured in Woman’s Day magazine and persuaded her neighbor, Alice Swann that they should put on the show even though neither of them had any experience performing with puppets. Swann and Schmale were neighbors in Concord Park, a subdivision that Civil Rights activist turned housing developer Moris Milgram had designed as an inter-racial community. The two housewives (who had seven children between them) performed at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City and the 1967 Canadian Centennial Puppeteers of America Festival in Waterloo, Ontario. As Director of Exhibits for the 2O23 Puppeteers of America National Festival, I curated this Wonderland Puppet Theater exhibit as an inspiring example of lifelong interracial friendship.
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Click the video to see a panel discussion with children of the original Wonderland Puppet Theater puppeteers.
The "Living Objects: African American Puppetry" exhibit ran from October 25, 2018 through April 7, 2019 at the University of Connecticut's Ballard Institute and Museum.
I co-curated the exhibit with Dr. John Bell. Click on the video to see the opening night tour.