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About Bunraku Bay

Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe is the only troupe in the United States that performs the traditional Japanese puppetry known as "ningyo joruri" or Bunraku. The “bay” of the Troupe’s name derives from the Bay State of Massachusetts, where the Troupe was first organized, and from the “bei” (pronounced “bay”) of the Japanese word “Beikoku,” which means “America,” suggesting the Troupe’s slogan, “Traditional Japanese Puppetry in America.”

The performers of the Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe have been trained in Japan by artists from the 170-year-old Tonda Puppet Troupe of Biwa-cho in Shiga Prefecture, northeast of the old capital of Kyoto, and the Imada Puppet Troupe and Kuroda Puppet Troupe--both more than 300 years old--of Iida City in Nagano Prefecture in central Japan. Under the direction of Prof. Martin Holman of the Japanese Studies Program at the main campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe offers performances of pieces from the traditional Bunraku repertoire, as well as puppetry demonstrations and workshops.

In August 2004 and again in 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe participated in the Iida Puppetry Festival, the largest theater festival in Japan devoted to the art of puppet drama. Bunraku Bay performers were honored to appear on the stages of the Imada Puppet Troupe and the Kuroda Puppet Troupe.  Bunraku Bay members were trained in Japan most recently in summer 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008 by leaders of the Imada and Kuroda Troupes. In summer 2009, Bunraku Bay will continue its tradition of receiving direct training from master Japanese puppeteers when 14 Bunraku Bay members travel to Japan for two months of work with the Imada Puppet Troupe.

Besides appearances in Japan, Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe has performed at many venues in the United States, including the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts and the Hood Museum at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; Williams College in Massachusetts; Bowdoin College in Maine; Austin College in Texas; the University of Chicago; the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida;  the Orlando Puppetry Festival; the Japan Society in New York; the First Night Celebration in Columbia, Missouri; Brigham Young Univerity; Penn State University; the University of Southern Indiana; the University of Missouri; as well as at the Troupe's former home at the University of Massachusetts. Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe also performed at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC in April 2005 and the Smithsonian Institution in 2007.

Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe is available to perform anywhere in the US with shows that range from a short 10-minute piece to a full evening performance. Bunraku Bay can also offer puppetry demonstrations, lectures, and/or workshops.

For information on booking Bunraku Bay contact us:

Martin Holman, Director
Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe
443 Strickland
Columbia, Missouri 65211
Tel. (573) 882-3368

Email: bunrakubay@gmail.com