(HERE Artist Residency Program)

9,000 Paper Balloons Maiko Kikuchi & Spencer Lott

Show Description

Independent artists Maiko Kikuchi and Spencer Lott have teamed up to create 9,000 Paper Balloons, a collage of original ghost stories that weave together the tragic end of a young American family, the internment of a Japanese couple, and the cover-up of 9000 paper balloons with live bombs that floated across the Pacific toward the United States in 1945. This new work of puppet-theatre is inspired by true events and explores cultural hysteria, government censorship, and the long term effects of the Japanese Internment.

Visually inspired by Japanese Woodblock prints and stark black and white images from the Japanese Internment camps, this play will float throughout the theater like a fog. The ghost stories will utilize a radio-noir soundscape as well as spoken Japanese text and rely on shadow puppetry, projections, masks and a whole lot of paper. 

Project image by Maiko Kikuchi
Artists, from L to R: Liz Hara (photo by Bill Wadman), Maiko Kikuchi (photo by the artist), Spencer Lott (photo by Rachel Shane)

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Artist Bio

Liz Hara is a writer, builder, and puppeteer. She currently writes and builds puppets for Sesame Street, and won an Emmy Award for Best Costume Design with her team in 2015. Her other writing credits include PBS’ Nature Cat and Odd Squad, and Nickelodeon’s Chase Champion. Her theatrical work has been presented at the O’Neill Theater Center, La MaMa, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and theaters across the U.S. She has been awarded a Jim Henson Foundation Family Grant and was the first recipient of the Henson Puppetry Residency at the O’Neill Theater Center. Liz has built puppets and costumes for Mirror Mirror (Miramax, 2012,) Avenue Q, The Lion King, and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Liz also performs as a puppeteer for film and television, and has toured internationally with Wakka Wakka’s stage production of SAGA. For more information, please friend her mom on Facebook.

Maiko Kikuchi (conceiver/director/performer) was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1983 and currently lives and works in New York. Kikuchi received her B.A. in Theater Arts and Fashion Design from Musashino Art University, Japan in 2008, her M.F.A in Sculpture from Pratt Institute, in 2012. Extensive multi-faceted professional experience in the areas of illustration, painting, sculpture, animation and performance. Her productions of note include: Daydream Anthology shown as a part of Labapalooza! at St. Ann’s Warehouse (2013), PINK BUNNY shown as a part of Labapalooza! at St. Ann’s Warehouse (2014) and No Need For A Night Light On A Light Night Like Tonight premiered at La MaMa First Floor Theatre (2015). In addition, Kikuchi performed at the Whitney Museum The Chair (2014) and SIX CHARACTERS at La MaMa Ellen Stewart Theater (2016), both directed by Theodora Skipitares.

Spencer Lott is a puppet artist, director and theater maker living in Brooklyn. In addition to his original work, he has performed at St. Ann’s Warehouse, LaMama, The New Ohio, Dixon Place, BAM, STREB Action Lab, The Bushwick Star, The Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and more. His TV/film puppetry credits include Disney’s The Muppets, America's Got Talent, Good Morning America, and Sesame Street. He is the recipient of two Jim Henson Foundation Grants for his production Blossom, and the inaugural Jim Henson Foundation Residency at the O’Neill Theater Center with collaborator Liz Hara. He has been a Works in Progress Artist at the Children’s Museum of the Arts and a Guest Artist for Theater Development Fund’s Stage Door program. Spencer is a member of the teaching artist ensembles at BAM and the New Victory Theater and he was recently named the Associate Artistic Director of Trusty Sidekick Theater Company. For more about Spencer please visit: www.misterlott.com

Artist Statement

Our creative team is interested in creating a theatrical event inspired by traditional Japanese ghost stories. We feel this is the most dynamic genre to explores themes of fear, vulnerability, hysteria and cultural isolation that led to that led to President Roosevelt’s executive order authorizing the internment of American citizens. Within our ghost story we believe puppetry provides the greatest opportunity to explore scale, rhythm, and magic. By embarking on this new project we are seeking proactive ways to tell stories that speak to our current political and social climate. For our creative team, a cross-cultural examination of a shared history was the perfect place to start. 

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Collage by Maiko Kikuchi

Filling Our Lungs - 9000 Paper Balloons

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