History

The Short History

The company was founded in Hawaii in 1971 by Reg and Janet Bradley. In 1973 the Bradley’s returned to the Portland area accompanied by Norman and Dale Kaneko and began touring throughout the Northwest.

In 1980 Tears of Joy Theatre was reorganized as a not for profit corporation governed by a board of directors.

Celebrating it’s 45th year, the company continues to tour widely. In 2015-16 season it toured to Western Canada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, and Georgia, as well as offering a variety of educational programs in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area.

Tears of Joy Theatre is recognized as one of the nation’s outstanding puppet theaters and known internationally for its innovation and excellence. Each year our programs serve over 50,000 children and adults. It has received a Washington State Governor’s Arts Award and a Young Audiences Sunburst Award for its “exemplary commitment to arts in education.” Four of the theater’s productions have received American puppetry’s highest honor, The Citation of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry from UNIMA-USA.

“At Tears of Joy Theatre, puppetry is enlarged, taken on stage and combined with the tradition of classical theatrical performing. The company’s beautifully designed puppets will blow you away as they come to life.” Willamette Week

Tears of Joy is currently led by Artistic Director Tim Giugni and Managing Director Emily Alexander.

The Long History

INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATIONS & PRESENTING

1986 International Children’s Festival. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Chinese Magic Review (Taiwan)
  • Teatro Dell’Angelo (Italy)
  • Kaleidoscope Theatre (Canada)
  • Torokko Puppets (Japan)
  • Richard Bradshaw Puppets (Australia)

1987 Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre tours to Japan as part of the I Love You Festival.

1988  International Children’s Festival. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Beijing Opera (People’s Republic of China)
  • Deaf Puppet Theatre Hitomi (Japan)
  • Theatre Marmaille (Canada)
  • Gayle LaJoye (U.S.)

Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre tours to Japan
Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre performs in Singapore

1989 Fall 1989 Reg Bradley, Artistic Director, visits USSR as guest as UNIMA-USSR to select puppet companies for Tears of Joy Theatre’s International Children’s Festival. Reg also visits Poland to meet with Jan Wilkowski and Henryk Jurkowski.

 International Children’s Festival. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Taipei Acrobats (Republic of China)
  • Osuwa Daiko Drums of Japan (Japan)
  • Fred Penner (Canada)
  • Heather Bishop (Canada)
  • Imago (U.S.A.)

1990  International Children’s Festival. May. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Kiev State Puppet Theatre (trip funded by UNIMA-USSR)
  • Shadow Theatre from Moscow (trip funded by UNIMA-USSR)
  • Green Apple Theatre, Finland
  • Arlekin Theatre, Poland

Tears of Joy Tours to the USSR, June 1990 Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre tours to the USSR in a trip sponsored by UNIMA-USSR. The theatre performs at festivals in Minsk, Abakan (Festival of Siberia & the Far East), and Moscow.

1990-91 Jan Wilkowski spends a year in residence with Tears of Joy Theatre. He brings puppets from his classic Timothy Rimchimchi, and directs this play with Tears of Joy puppeteers. Wiklowski writes a new play for Tears of Joy, Aladdin & His Magic Lamp, and arranges for the puppets to be designed by Adam Killian. The puppets are built in Poland for the play.

Jan Wilkowski was an actor, director, playwright and educator of the puppet stage who was a major force in the theatre of Poland since the early 1950’s. In 1958 he won a Gold Medal at the first International Festival of the Puppet Theatre for his popular, Guignol in Trouble. He has collaborated as a playwright, director and actor with Polish television and puppet theaters both in Poland and abroad. In 1975, he joined the State University of Theatre Arts in Bialystock and was creator and dean of its Department of Puppet Art. He retired in 1989.

1991 International Children’s Festival. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Moscow Regional Puppet Festival (USSR)
  • Uzume Taiko (Japan), Heshoo Beshoo (South Africa)
  • Naa Hahidi Tlinkit Theatre (Alaska)
  • Shadow Play Theatre (U.S./Bali)

The Pacific Puppetry Institute, June 17–July 5. A joint project of Washington State University and Tears of Joy Theatre

Faculty
Josef Krofta (Czechslovakia) Dean of the Faculty for Alternative and Puppet Theatre in the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, he is known for his highly acclaimed work with the East Bohemian Puppet Theatre DRAK Recipient of a succession of festival competition prizes, he has been recognized for his work by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Culture and honored by the Federation of Czech Drama and Film Artists for outstanding artistic achievement. Krofta’s determined effort has been to promote the puppet to a position of equality with the actor.

Dr. Natasha Raitaroskaya (USSR) A staff member of UNIMA/USSR she will be representing the Soviet Center as a faculty member at the Institute. Raitarovskaya’s diverse backbround—she has studied both in Design and Theatre History—allow her a perspective that will bring a balanced approach to a variety of aspects of the puppetry arts. In addition to her training, she has freelanced as a designer, dramaturg and critic.

1992  International Children’s Festival. Final. Producer in Vancouver, Washington. Companies presented include:

  • Zanendaba Story Theatre (South Africa)
  • Chongqing Youth Acrobatic Troupe (China)
  • Zimbabwe National Dance Co. (Zimbabwe)
  • Yang Feng Puppet Theatre (China)
  • Titeres de Cachiporra. (Uruguay)

Represent Yang Feng and manage his touring (1992-1995)

The Pacific Puppetry Institute, July 7-25,. A joint project of Washington State University and Tears of Joy Theatre

Faculty

Petr Matassek, Czechoslovakia. Designer, Petr Matassek has designed for theatres through Czechoslovakia includeing an opera production for the National Theatre of Czechoslovakia. He has taught seminars in theatre design in a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, Iceland, France and the U.S. In puppetry circles he is best known for the sets and puppets he has designed for the famous DRAK theatre. Matasek’s trademark is a central transformational piece—a self contained structure that alters environments as necessary to meet the needs of the production. His designs and concepts have been featured in European architecture journals.

Koshiro Uno, Japan. A founder of the internationally acclaimed Hitomi Za Company. Institute participants will attend a performance of Tono by Hitomi Za Company. This performance is in conjunction with the Portland International Performance Festival.

1993 The Pacific Puppetry Institute June, 1993 A joint project of Washington State University and Tears of Joy Theatre

Faculty

Yang Feng, Fifth generation Chinese Master of Hand Puppetry.

Lou Furman, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts at Washington State University

Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre tours to Hong Kong, Canada and Taiwan

1995 Research trip to Yucatan in Mexico by Reg Bradley, Artistic Director Joseph Krofta of Czech Republic directs The Amazing Adventures of Coco-Kaba for Tears of Joy Theatre. Funded by a grant from the Lila Wallace Readers’ Digest Foundation, this project funded a trip by Artistic Director, Reg Bradley and Playwright Sharon Whitney to Prague for meetings with Joseph Krofta, Joseph and his son Jakob who was Associate Director spent 6 weeks in Vancouver, WA., directing The Amazing Adventures of Coco-Kaba. The set was designed by Czech designer Marek Zakostelecky, play also funded the music score by Czech composer Jan Jiracek,

Tears of Joy Puppet Theatre tours to Korea

1996 Produced Fire on the Mountain adapted from the story “O Zwyrtale Muzykancie” by Kazimierz Tetmajer. The story was translated by Natasha Raitarovskaya and Kaja Perkowski. Jan Wilkowski had produced a play adapted from this story in Poland. During his year in residence with Tears of Joy he spent considerable time discussing the play with Reg Bradley who wrote “Fire on the Mountain”.

1999 Research trip to India by Jodi Eichelberger (director), Mary Harrison (designer) and Nathan Scott (playwright). Produced The Secret of Singbonga

Past Productions

1971-72: The Courageous Dragon, Mumford the Sea Monster, Aslan Meets the Shrinkerman, and Jonah
1972-73: The Legend of Aukelenuiaku, In Babel’s Rubble-Fare, and Happy Hours.
1973-74: Nemo of the Four Winds, For Love of Looney.
1974-75: The Bridge of the Gods, Bigfoot in the Backyard, The Breadman Cometh.
1975-76: The Happy Prince, and Alice in Voterland
1976-77: Miser of Tahoma, Trouble at the Fort, and Alice in Wonderland (version 1)
1977-78: Sungura the Hare (version 1)
1978-79: The Black Heart of Indri
1979-80: You Are What You Eat (Nutrition Show), Inanna in the Underworld, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner
1980-81: The Magic Calliope, Onion Skin Soup, THE MASQUE COMPANY
1981-82: Coyote and the Cedar Tree, Faces in Time (MASQUE Co.), Frogs (MASQUE Co.), Sungura the Hare (version 2)
1982-83: Lessons for a Sumo
1983-84: Jabberwocky, and A Pig’s Tale
1984-85: The Gift
1985-86: Petroucka, The Magic Teakettle, Opal.
1986-87: Adventures of Fet Frumos
1987-88: Jumping Mouse
1988-89: Baba Yaga, and Hamitchou, the Miser
1989-90: There’s A Nightmare In My Closet, Puppetry in Action
1990-91: Rymchimchi, Aladdin & His Magic Lamp
1991-92 Alice in Wonderland (version 2), Coyote & the Cedar Tree (version 2), How Coyote Kept His Name
1992-93: No new plays produced.
1993-94: Rumpeltstiltskin, Brer Rabbit Tales, Pure Imagination, The Lucky Teakettle of Good Fortune
1994-95: Pied Piper, Monkey King, Between Two Worlds
1995-96: The Amazing Adventures of Coco-Kaba
1996-97: Fire on the Mountain, Toy Box, A Republic If You Can Keep It
1997-98: Jungle Book, Bridge of the Gods.
1998-99: The Secret of Singbonga
1999-00: Singing Our Way Home
2000-01: Cinderella, Toad Prince
2001-02: Coyote Tales, Perseus: Hero of Ancient Greece.
2002-03: Ride the Red Mare
2003-04: Anansi the Spider
2004-05 The Reluctant Dragon and Little One Inch
2005-06: No New Shows
2006-07 The Shoemake and the Elves
2007-08: Pinocchio and Stellaluna
2009-10: No new productions
2011-12: Ugliest Duckling
2013-14: No new productions
2015-: Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

TEARS OF JOY FAMILY SERIES

81-82 The Magic Calliope
82-83 Coyote & the Cedar Tree
83-84 Alice in Wonderland (Hand and Rod Version)
84-85 Lessons for a Sumo
85-86 Petrouchka (International Children’s Festival)
86-87 Fet Frumos ——-
87-88 Jumping Mouse (International Children’s Festival)
88-89 Hamitchou (International Children’s Festival)
89-90 Fet Frumos, Baba Yaga, Nightmare (International Children’s Festival)
90-91 At the Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) Nightmare, Rymchimchi, Aladdin, Petrouchka (International Children’s Festival)
91-92 Alice in Wonderland (Large Version),  Nightmare in My Closet, Baba Yaga, Coyote Tales (International Children’s Festival)
92-93 Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Jumping Mouse, Magic Horse (Yang Feng)
93-94 Rumpelstiltskin, Petrouchka, Brer Rabbit Tales, Dinosaur Show (guest)
94-95 Pied Piper, Nightmare in My Closet, Monkey King, Peter Rabbit (guest)
95–96 Baba Yaga, Alice in Wonderland, Coco-Kaba, Lucky Teakettle/Gift
96-97 Aladdin, Toy Box Fire, Pinocchio (guest)
97-98 Jungle Book, Nightmare in My Closet,  Bridge of the Gods, Pied Piper
98–99 Rumpelstiltskin, Alice in Wonderland, Secret of Singbonga, Timothy Rymchimchi
99-00 Monkey King, Petrouchka, Singing Our Way, Thumbelina (Oregon Shadow Theater)
00-01 Cinderella, Nightmare in My Closet, Toad Prince, Tom Thumb (guest)
01–02 Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Adventures of Perseus. Beanstalk!
02-03 The Jungle Book, Ride the Red Mare, Coyote Tales, Baba Yaga
03-04 Rumpelstiltskin, Happy Prince, Anansi the Spider, Perseus
04-05 The Reluctant Dragon, Nightmare in My Closet, Bridge of the Gods, Little One-Inch, Blame it on Moon
05-06 Cinderella, Ride the Red Mare, Monkey King, Thumbelina (guest)
06-07 Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland, Shoemaker & Elves, 3 Little Pigs (guest)
07-08 Pinocchio, Petrouchka (8), Anansi (4), Stellaluna
08–09 The Jungle Book (6), The Reluctant Dragon (4), When Animals Were People,  Fabulous Bear, Rymchimchee (10)
09-10 Rumpelstiltskin (6), Nightmare in My Closet (5), Little One-Inch (5), Malika Queen of Cats
10-11 Cinderella (5), Baba Yaga (8), Bridge of the Gods (6), Ugliest Duckling
11-12 Pinocchio (4), Shoemaker & Elves (5), Monkey King (6), Ride the Red Mare. Toad Prince, Coyote Tales (9)