Nov 3, 2018
Nov 5, 2018

天问 TIAN WEN: Heavenly Questions for Modern Times

“[Hua Hua] pulled a vulnerability out of me that I’m not used to experiencing…”
–Bonaly review of White Nights

By Visual Expressions
Directed by Hua Hua Zhang

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Inspired by a classic Chinese poem, Tian Wen is an experimental puppetry performance featuring living sculpture, stylized movement, and live music. The individual pieces – or dreams – explore the differences in feelings, concerns, and behaviors between East and West that Hua Hua Zhang has observed during her artistic journey in America.

In the piece’s magical dreamscape, powerful images abound: beautiful lanterns, a mysterious balloon, a stunning bird that both agitates and inspires, rocks and skeletons that thrillingly come to life. Through these images, many themes are explored, including loneliness, competition, compassion, self-reflection, as well as the balance between love of self and love of other. Taken together, these powerful and evocative dreams grapple with difficult questions we face in modern times.

“Theater, dance, pantomime, and visual art combine to offer a well-calibrated interdisciplinary experience. Hua Hua Zhang tells the coming-of-age story with honesty, openness, and candor indicative of great wisdom and maturity.”
—Rhonda Moore for thINKingDANCE

“Zhang’s art is a modern interpretation of puppetry. Her contemporary style blends the essence of East and West and gives every audience a unique feeling.”
–Dan-Yu Tang for Metro Chinese Weekly

The 8th La MaMa Puppet Festival Fall 2018 has been made possible with support from Ford Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation, Puppet Slam Network, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust and public support by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Cultural on the Arts. Additional support from  Cheryl Henson is gratefully acknowledged.  


Artistic Director, Puppet and Set Designer & Co-writer: Hua Hua Zhang
Production Manager & Stage Manager: Adam Danoff
Composer: Cory Neale
Co-writer: Michael Cocchiarale
Lighting Designer: Federico Restrepo
Cello: Nan-Cheng Chen

Hua Hua Zhang, Adam Danoff, XingXin Liu, David Regan, Travis Draper, Jeanne Lyons, Nai-Ni Chen


Founded in 2002 by Artistic Director Hua Hua Zhang, Visual Expressions is committed to using Asian and Western puppet art to explore universal themes and ideas through visual cross–cultural expression using theatrical performances and educational programs.

It is our mission to broaden our audiences’ and students’ perspectives and open their hearts by sharing, appreciating, and embracing both the many differences and similarities among our cultures.    

Hua Hua Zhang graduated from The Beijing Academy of Performing Arts and received many awards for her work in China. She received her MFA degree in Puppet Art from the School of Fine Arts Department at the University of Connecticut. She was featured as a solo performer with “The Gate” for 13 years, performing all around the world.

Find Out More At their website!

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.

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