Puppetry in Practice started as a club at Brooklyn College in 1979. Developed by Tova Ackerman, a teacher of English as a Second Language and Special Education, as well as an Adjunct in the School of Education at Brooklyn College, the club was designed to
help teachers use folktales and stories from around the world as a way of exploring cultures, promoting friendship in the classroom.
“If children grew to love the characters in stories from other cultures, they would be open to the thoughts and ideas of people from around the world,” Tova said. “The children, many of whom were immigrants, would learn English as they shared their cultures with their classmates."
PiP’s early programs in New York City schools included bilingual residencies in Spanish and Haitian Creole and now include Mandarin and French. The first school program started with a group of puppeteers from Brazil, and since that time PiP has invited artists from many countries, including Russia, China, Peru, and Israel to share their stories and art.
We believe the world’s great stories bridge cultures and help young people become aware of their creative selves, the contributions of others and their connections to a global community.
Now, 40 years later, PiP continues to explore the world through its folklore and stories, while children share their cultures through the arts as they develop English language skills. PiP constantly seeks ways to use multiple art forms to engage students in language learning and help them develop new avenues of creative expression. In addition to New York City schools, PiP programs are welcomed by cultural centers, community centers, museums, libraries, and senior centers.
In 2019, with the sudden passing of Tova Ackerman, a new leadership team was created by combining the skills of two long-time Puppetry in Practice staff members. Michael Perreca, arts administrator and theater professional, serves as Executive Director, and Jason Leinwand, visual artist, and designer, serves as Education Director. Along with resident master artist Xun Ye serving as Art Director, they are committed to honoring the legacy of Tova Ackerman, deepening school partnerships and building strong connections within school communities. A skilled team of teaching artists consists of specialists in various art forms and covers all levels of education.