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“Gospel Puppetry”

February 10 @ 9:30 am - 10:30 am

$6 – $12

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry at the University of Connecticut will present rich examples of one of the most vibrant aspects of African American puppet arts–Gospel Puppetrywith performances by Edna Bland and Reverend Yolanda Sampson on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. This performance is part of the larger Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium, a four-day series of performances, presentations, discussions, film screenings, and workshops, from Feb. 7 to 10, 2019, celebrating the rich world of African American puppetry in the United States. This performance will take place at at UConn’s von der Mehden Recital Hall located at 875 Coventry Rd, Storrs, CT 06269.

The program will include two performances:

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Edna M. Bland

Using mouth-and-rod puppets, “Miss Edna” shares stories from the Bible and “the gospel of salvation”, told with vignettes and songs.

Edna M. Bland is a Florida-based puppeteer, certified educator and teaching artist who has dedicated her life to helping people discover their gifts and talents in the area of theatre arts. As a puppeteer, she was mentored by Caroll Spinney (“Big Bird”), and Dr. Loretta Long (“Susan” from Sesame Street), and has been a puppeteer in Jane Henson’s Nativity. Bland is the creator of Lovely Day Arts and Sock n’ Sew Puppets, consults youth puppet teams around the country, and has created the only puppetry arts elective class in Florida.   

The Agape Love Train by Reverend Yolanda Sampson

Using hand puppets, scripture, music, humor, storytelling, and audience participation, Reverend Sampson tells the story of Lovuro, a princess from the fictional planet Peacuro, who learns about the biblical principles of love and forgiveness with the help of her down-to-earth friends.

A native of Washington, D.C., Rev. Yolanda Sampson is an ordained Christian minister who brings the gospel to life through the art of puppetry. Sampson was introduced to puppet ministry as a child, and further developed her interest and talent for puppetry with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Howard University, and a masters degree in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary. Sampson is the founder of PuppeTainment, a puppet ministry company, and created the What Time Is It? video series featuring moral messages for elementary school-age children. She is the founder and president of GO Y.O. Worldwide, LLC, a company that creates and distributes products to educate and empower children to live out their Christian faith; and currently serves as the director of evangelism for the First Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A. in Washington, D.C.

This program runs approximately one hour and is family friendly.  

Ticket Prices: Adults: $12; Members/Seniors: $10; Students: $8; Kids: $6 (12 years and under).

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, by calling 860-486-8580, or online at A surcharge will be added to any purchases made online. Tickets may also be purchased at UConn’s von der Mehden Recital Hall on the day of performance starting at 8:30 a.m. There will be open seating and no reservations. For address and parking information for von der Mehden Recital Hall, visit For more information or if you require an accommodation to attend this event, please contact Ballard Institute staff at 860.486.8580 or

The Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium is taking place in conjunction with the Living Objects: African American Puppetry exhibit at UConn’s Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry on display through April 7, 2019. For information about the exhibit and festival, visit

Living Objects: African American Puppetry Festival and Symposium sponsors include: Judith M. Zachs and the Zachs Family Foundation, UConn School of Fine Arts, University of Connecticut Humanities Institute, UConn Africana Studies Institute, the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center of the University of Connecticut, UConn Hartford, Hartford Public Library, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Amistad Center for Art and Culture, and Maryland Institute College of Art.


February 10
9:30 am - 10:30 am
$6 – $12
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Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry
(860) 486-8580


860-486-8580 or


University of Connecticut von der Mehden Recital Hall
875 Coventry Rd
Storrs, CT 06268
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