Dreaming is Torry Bend’s most recent collaboration with playwright Howard Craft and director JaMeeka Holloway. It follows two men deeply affected by Winsor McCay’s comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland. In a world where comic book characters live side by side with real people, Malachi Washington works to free comics cast in prejudiced bodies while Winsor’s son, Bob McCay, seeks to revive the old comic strip. What follows is a compelling story of reckoning, healing, and examining the racist legacy of comics and animation. Bend’s previous work, The Paper Hat Game, received the UNIMA citation of excellence, the highest honor in North American puppetry, and was a New York Times Critic’s pick and was nominated for a Drama Desk Award.
Story by Howard Craft
Script by JaMeeka Holloway and Torry Bend
Directed and Designed by Torry Bend
Associate Director: JaMeeka Holloway
Music composed by Lenora Zenzalai Helm and Rob Chamberlain
Sound design by Rob Chamberlain
Puppeteers: Ashley Winkfield, Milissa Orzolek, Brandon Osley, María Zurita Ontiveros
Additional art by Serah Ashby, Lindsey Elcessor, and Paul Louise-Julie
Puppets built by Torry Bend, Anna Wagner, Milissa Orzolek, and María Zurita Ontiveros
Torry Bend is a set designer, puppet artist, and Associate Professor at Duke University. She created and directed the toy theater piece The Paper Hat Game (3 Legged-Dog Art and Technology Center, New York, Manbites DogTheater, Durham, NC, The Great Small Works Toy Theater Festival, Brooklyn, NY, The Den Theater, Chicago, IL, and Open Eye Figure Theater, Minneapolis, MN); Nesting (Great Small Works International Toy Theater Festival, NY, The Port City Puppetry Festival, NC, Douglas Paasch Puppet Festival ’13, Seattle and Open Eye Figure Theater, Minneapolis, MN); The Elephant (premiered at Disney Music Hall’s International Toy Theater Festival 2008 and performed with Jumbo Shrimp Circus, Los Angeles). She created and directed Loser in 2007 (Prague, New York, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles). Love’s Infrastructure, a collaboration with band Bombadil, premiered with Duke Performances in 2014. Bend has received funding from the Jerome Foundation, Henson Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Durham Arts Council, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
Howard L. Craft's work primarily focuses on the African-American working class—their hopes, dreams, struggles, and aspirations. It is influenced by current events, American history in general, and African-American history in particular. The rhythms and grittiness of Hip-Hop often make their way into how he structures a poem or play. He creates a dominant theme, which runs underneath the work like a bass line, and then expresses various points of view on that theme.
As an artist, he is constantly asking questions about the world we live in. He believes that if one digs deep enough into a particular perspective or way of being in the world, it is possible to discern knowledge of what is universal in human nature. He is a child of the Black Arts Movement. While he does not seek to replicate that work, the idea of raising consciousness about issues that affect community through art is at the very heart of what he does.
La MaMa Puppet Festival
The La MaMa Puppet Festival showcases new contemporary puppet theatre by artists from around the world. Curated by Denise Greber, focusing on diversifying the voices, stories, and perspectives shared onstage, with the goal of uplifting marginalized identities within the puppet community.