Tears of Joy Theatre Encouraged Discussion With Puppetry, Performance

In this look back at past Humanities Washington programs, we look at the productions of Tears of Joy Theater, which brought puppet shows and mask-theater productions to schools around the state.

A scene from "Faces in Time- A History of Mask Theater," was the first of several projects that Humanities Washington and Tears of Joy partnered on.

Humanities Washington and Tears of Joy Theatre first partnered in 1981 on Faces In Time – A History of Mask Theater, which featured pieces inspired by mask traditions like Japanese Noh Theater and Italian Commedia dell’arte.

Humanities Washington is celebrating our 40th anniversary with 40 Years of Washington Stories. Each week on Spark, we’ll offer a snapshot from our past, sharing forty years of stories that have helped shape the humanities in Washington state.

During its first few decades of work, Humanities Washington repeatedly partnered with the Oregon-based Tears of Joy Theatre to help the company bring puppet shows to schools across Washington state. The productions ranged from a 1981 mask-theater production entitled Faces in Time (pictured above) to the company’s 1995 Between Two Worlds, a puppet show based on the famous Jewish play The Dybbuk. In 1997, Humanities Washington sponsored Tears of Joy’s A Republic, if You Can Keep It, which explored humanistic thinking in the early United States. The production traveled to eight high schools in Southern Washington.

Tears of Joy performances were followed by discussions and the distribution of study guides in order to connect the humanities content of the puppet shows with the lives of the students watching. The company won a Washington Governor’s Arts Award in 1991, and continues to perform in the Western United States. Tears of Joy is currently based out of the Imago Theater in Portland, Oregon.

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