Sunday, August 5, 2018

Spaghetti Dinner at Puppet Fringe NYC

the Great Small Works Spaghetti Dinner
is proud to present 
a Late-Night Cabaret
at the first-ever International Puppet Fringe NYC Festival!

Friday, August 10, 2018
Spaghetti at 10:30PM in the outdoor Puppet Lounge
Cabaret at 11:00PM sharp


Lu Liu and Harrison Greene will perform music combining guitar and traditional Chinese pipa to string together two cultures and create original songs. 

Jenny Romaine excerpts from 
The Revival of the Uzda Grave Diggers: Part 2  

Between the bundist bootmakers of Minsk and the dashing sash weavers of Slutsk, there were the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA.  Once a musar town in Yiddish Lite, now a sleepy shtetl in Belarus, UZDA is home to two adjacent cemeteries, one Jewish and one Muslim Tatar. This excerpt is phase 2 of project by theater director Jenny Romaine, singer/songwriter/accordionist/novelist Geoff Berner and translator Ben Kline, who followed their curiosity about the lost memories and folkways of the Gravediggers and Gardeners of UZDA and the central role of Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Pagan funeral professionals, all living together in the primeval forest for hundred and hundreds of years.  

Paradox Teatro
Sofía Padilla and Davey T Steinman

In light of expanding border walls around the globe, Migraciones follows the voyage of refugees as they travel through sand, water and shadows, in search of a new home. Paradox Teatro is a collaboration between artists from México and the United States, communicating across cultures with puppetry, music, and poetry in English and Spanish.

Kathleen Kennedy Tobin
Turn Out Your Dead, New York Harbor, 1781
Sketch for Hulk and Fleet
Excerpt from work-in-progress puppet show about prison ships. 

Nick Knave
Outlaw puppeteer, storyteller, horror guru – direct from San Francisco.

Funding for Spaghetti Dinners made possible in part by the Puppet Slam Network; NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; NY State Council on the Arts; Scherman Foundation; Doctorow Family Foundation; and Puffin Foundation.  Thank you!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Second Annual East Village Iftar and Spaghetti Garden Party

Friday, June 1, 2018
La Plaza Cultural Community Garden
9th Street and Avenue C, NYC

Dinner after sunset at 8:30
Admission: $15 sliding scale (no one turned away for lack of funds)
All ticket sales on site.
Info:  917-319-8104


Ramadan-inspired poets grove including poet SaaliSI and songs by Mariam Bazeed

Great Small Works’ historic “The True Story of Charas” cantastoria

"Pari Banu, Ravi Ahu," a remix of Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 animated film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, performed by SaaliSI.


IFTAR is the meal that Muslims eat after sunset during Ramadan to break the day’s fast. It is one of the ceremonial observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together.

Fasting starts at sunrise and ends at sunset. During this time Muslims abstain from food, water, and also wrongful acts like backbiting, fighting, and violence. The meal traditionally starts with water and a date when the adhaan (call to prayer) signifying the end of the fast begins. 

Woman shadow puppeteer Lotte Reiniger's 1926 oldest surviving animated feature film The Adventures of Prince Achmed uses a silhouette animation technique Reiniger invented which involved manipulated cutouts made from cardboard and thin sheets of lead under a camera. The technique is similar to Wayang shadow puppets, though hers were animated frame by frame, not manipulated in live action. Her work is important to the development of (western) shadow puppetry and film animation in general.  

The story is based on elements taken from One Thousand and One Nights, specifically "The Story of Prince Achmed and the Fairy Paribanou."

SaaliSi will play a live sound track to accompany an excerpt from Reiniger’s film.


Funding made possible in part by the Puppet Slam Network, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the Doctorow Family Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the NY State Council on the Arts.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Signs of Spring Spaghetti Dinner

Great Small Works Spaghetti Dinner
Thursday, May 17, 2018, 7:30 PM
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, NYC

Admission: $5-15 sliding scale (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Info: 917-319-8104
No reservations necessary.
Spaghetti Dinner, Judson Church December 2017
Aeilushi Mistry leads candle dance
Photo: Erik McGregor


Boxcutter Collective
"The Possession of Judy"
A new radical hand puppet show.
Creators/Performers: Sam Wilson, Jason Hicks, Tom Cunningham, Joe Therrien
Watch as Judy (a tough-as-nails New York City grandma) rejects the false binary of the left/right political rhetoric, and joins a coven of witches who are harnessing the power of the Divine Feminine in order to take down capitalism and its myriad symptoms plaguing society.

Kay Turner
"Spurning Fertility/Smashing Tchotchkes"
Performed as a lesson in feminist art history, Turner lectures as she shows the evolution of quaint, banal knick-knacks. The deeply, viciously secure understanding of women's fertility as vessel in need of seed is thoroughly dismantled. With a smash and a laugh!

Annie Wang
A dance solo excerpted from "Marigram," a longer work inspired by the mass protests of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and Tahrir Square in 2011, created in collaboration with Mohamed Yours Shika, Tuce Yasak, Yuan Liu, and Kay Hung.

Deer Leonardo
Marin Sander Holtzman and Lee Free's live devotional dance-music band, Deer Leonardo is both Southern Italian Deer magic and love letter to the collective rhythm of body and mind. The vibe is modern with lots of queer disco and fab funk influences to get you moving!
Joined by the dapper smooth T Thompson on bass and vocals, and the indomitable Chris Perraut on vocals and Moog.

Funding made possible in part by the Puppet Slam Network, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NY State Council on the Arts, Scherman Foundation, and Doctorow Family Foundation.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Joel Kovel (1936-2018)

We are sad to hear of the passing of our friend, comrade, and loving collaborator Joel Kovel, whose life-long dedication to activism, political engagement, and the possibilities of political art-making has long been an inspiration to us. Despite his many happy obligations to family, writing, and politics, Joel took the time to be one of Great Small Works' board members, honoring us with his serious thinking and practical utopian dreams.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018


Hello Dear Friends,

It's that time of year again!
Time for the annual Purim celebration and Masquerade Ball

Brought to you by the Aftselakhes Spectacle Committee, in cahoots with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice and Great Small Works

Purim Unleashed! An Oracular Heist

Thursday, March 8:     7:30 doors 8pm preview show

Saturday, March 10:  8pm doors, 8:30 show + party

Sunday, March 11: 12-4pm kids carnival + parade

East Midwood Jewish Center
1625 Ocean Avenue
$12-20, no one turned away

See details here of the project and work process here: spectacle

Our shpil is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Year-End Spaghetti Dinner

Friday, December 29, 2017
55 Washington Square South, NYC

Tickets: $15 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Info: 917-319-8104

Let's come together and face the New Year!

*Join Great Small Works in accepting Laura Flanders' challenge to design a logo for a Shared Power Index.

*Two new cantastorias from Boxcutter Cabaret.

*New episodes of "Trumpuppetry" by Stephen Kaplin -- overhead shadows for dark times.

*"The Storm" by Jessica Santos and Leo March. Conversation between two Puerto Ricans about the storm which has been more than a century in the making.


*Aeilushi Mistry will teach the Divada (Lamp) Dance from Gujarat, India.

*Afro-Dominican and Afro-Puerto Rican roots drum and dance by the all-women's drumming troupe, Legacy Women.

*Michael Winograd and the Honorable Mentshn - end of the year klezmer dance party.

Tickets: $15 sliding scale (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Info: 917-319-8104
Spaghetti at 7:30PM.
Performances begin at 8PM.

Great Small Works thanks the Puppet Slam Network (HBH Fund) and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for their support.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Banners and Cranks this weekend!

Great Small Works will be represented by Jenny Romaine at this year's iteration of BANNERS AND CRANKS.

ArtYard, Frenchtown, NJ

Nov 17th – 7:30 PM
An Entertaining Illustrated History of Cantastoria (Lecture)
Dave Buchen and Clare Dolan will present an illustrated history of this fascinating performance form. In addition to the illustrated lecture, they will share footage of picture-story recitation from around the world, including Indian, Australian, and Iranian performances, as well as contemporary cantastoria performed by artists, activists, writers and puppeteers in the U.S.
Nov 18th – 7:30 PM
A Raucous Evening of Banners and Cranks
This cabaret-style evening presents Cantastoria and cranky shows in the grand tradition, celebrating stories of mayhem, intrigue, and the small triumphs of the downtrodden, with live music by the Banners & Cranks House Band!
Banners & Cranks for Kids and their Grown-Ups
This event presents cantastoria and cranky shows in the grand tradition, geared towards family audiences, with live music, moving pictures, and lots of stories.
Jenny's shows:
1. A family friendly sing a long show created with Mor Erlich of Sez Me  on the topic of SANDWICHES.
 A picture recitation show that invites you on a tour of the Belarusian village of Uzda, where the cemetery hides some surprising (or not-so-surprising) histories of inter-religious coexistence, solidarity, and defiance of authoritarian blockheads. Based on the creators' journeys through Líte — the historical Jewish-Lithuanian borderlands — on the Yiddishkayt Helix Project 2015, the REVIVAL combines multilingual source texts and folksongs with original material to tell funny and shocking stories of funerals and foodways in a "mostly ordinary town." In English, Yiddish, and Belarusian. THE REVIVAL OF THE UZDA GRAVEDIGGERS is a Great Small Works collaboration by Geoff Berner, Ben Kline and Jenny Romaine.
More about Cantastoria:
Cantastoria is the Italian word for an ancient performance form involving the theatrical display of paintings accompanied by sung narration. A precursor to modern puppet theater, this practice originated in 6th Century India and spread East and West, with many different variations in style and subject matter.
Recently there has been a revival of interest in Cantastoria among puppeteers, artists, and activists in the West, who find that this ancient form has startlingly modern qualities and can easily be infused with fresh content. The use of the cranky (a sister to the cantastoria in which the images appear on a scroll which is turned by means of a crank) has also lately grown popular among folk musicians and artists looking for new ways to perform their songs and display their artwork in a performance context. Banners and Cranks is committed to the concept of a nomadic festival, both because it is in keeping with the historic itinerant roots of the performance form, and also because they hope that the fest will reach new audiences of makers and thinkers who have never seen cantastoria before, inspiring the uninitiated to take up the form and invent fresh approaches to the magic of the cranky and the picture story.
This is a living and breathing folk performance practice that has its own particular place alongside the technology and media of the 21 st century.