Bill’s 44th promo
2023/2024 Tour Dates
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“’Bill’s 44th’ plunges its audience fully into a fantasy that, for all its silliness, leads its hero through stubborn hope and bitter disappointment toward a feeling of comfort in his own skin and an awakening to the world around him.”
– Laura Collins-Hughes, Critics Pick, The New York Times
full article (PDF)
“Shrewdly designed and delightfully staged…”
“This is one party you will not want to miss!”
– Hi! Drama
The streamers are hung, the punch has been spiked, and the cake is just begging to be eaten! Now all Bill has to do is wait for his guests to arrive. Bill’s 44th is an original comedic show created by puppeteers Dorothy James & Andy Manjuck to create one very worried leading man – Bill. Many styles of puppetry, raucous balloons, and a cheeky piece of crudité all collide to examine the pitfalls of impatience, the wonder of loneliness, and the universal passage of time.
Bill’s 44th is a full-length (55 minutes) show for adults, touring with 5 people in total.
Bill’s 44th was originally conceived in 2016 as a 5 minute slam-piece for Puppet Homecomings. The prompt: “They are coming,” inspired us to throw a birthday party where no one ever comes. But then, due to scheduling conflicts, we weren’t able to attend the slam and we stuffed Bill’s head (lovingly) into a box on a shelf.
Two years later we were asked by our friend Rowan Magee, who was curating one of the nights for Dixon Place’s Puppet Blok, if we wanted to revisit the idea. We did, and (10 minutes of) Bill was born! What followed next was a whirlwind that culminated in a 20 minute workshop at Dixon Place in 2019, where we shared the bill with the ingenious Shayna Strype, applying and receiving a Production Grant from The Jim Henson Foundation, planning a workshop performance at the New York State Puppet Festival, being a part of Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and readying for a premiere at Dixon Place in 2020!
Of course, things changed. While many of our ideas came to a screeching halt, Bill’s journey continued. Thanks to the New York State Puppet Festival in October of 2020 we were able to create Bill’s 44th (A Zoom Birthday), a 30 minute ‘zoom’ show performed live in our apartment. And finally, in June of 2021, Bill found his way to his premiere at Dixon Place as part of a puppetry series alongside artists Shayna Strype, Justin Perkins, and Maria Camia.
Bill’s 44th would like to thank The Jim Henson Foundation, Cheryl Henson, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the New York State Puppet Festival, and Dixon Place, without their support the show would simply not exist.
Co-creator & Puppeteer, Andy Manjuck is a Brooklyn-based artist. He is a company member of Wakka Wakka (“Baby Universe,” “Saga,” “Made in China,” “The Immortal Jellyfish Girl”), and has worked with Robin Frohardt (“The Pigeoning,” “The Plastic Bag Store”), Nick Lehane (“Chimpanzee,” and “Fly Away” – a collaboration with Derek Fordjour’s SELF MUST DIE exhibition, Petzel Gallery), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (“That Life,” Double Solitaire), Doug Fitch (“Petrushka” with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oregon Symphony), Apple TV+ (“Hello Tomorrow!”), BYUtv (“9 Years to Neptune”), and Betty Productions (“4th Islamic Solidarity Games Opening Ceremonies,” Baku, Azerbaijan, “48th National Day Celebration,” Abu Dhabi, UAE). He co-founded the arts collective Eat Drink Tell Your Friends (“Lectures,” “Photo & Supply). He is the co-creator of Bill’s 44th, a wordless puppet show for adults which was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick and has performed in NYC at Dixon Place and in Chicago at the Chopin Theater as a part of the 2022 Chicago International Puppetry Festival. He has also taught and designed at the Peabody Institute at John Hopkin’s University. www.andymanjuck.com
Co-creator & Puppeteer, Dorothy James is a Brooklyn based puppeteer and maker of tiny things. She has puppeteered for Wakka Wakka (Made in China, 59E59 Theaters, FigurTeatret i Nordland; The Immortal Jellyfish Girl, FigurTeatret), Nick Lehane and Derek Fordjour (SELF MUST DIE: Fly Away, Petzel Gallery), Basil Twist (Hansel & Gretel, Michigan Opera Theatre), Molly Smith (Snow Child, Arena Stage), AchesonWalsh & Radio City (The New York Spectacular…) Unknown Mortal Orchestra (“That Life”), BBC (Moon and Me), Amazon (Patriot), and Apple TV+ (Hello Tomorrow!). As a creator, Dorothy uses table top, shadow, rod, and paper cut puppetry to create otherworldly narratives that meld the grotesque with a sense of innocence. She is the co-creator of Bill’s 44th, a wordless puppet show for adults which was named a New York Times Critic’s Pick and has performed in NYC at Dixon Place and in Chicago at the Chopin Theater as a part of the 2022 Chicago International Puppetry Festival. Her paper cut stop-motion film Lethologica was an official selection of Chicago’s Big Teeth Small Shorts Film Festival and the Upstate NY Horror Festival. www.dorothy-james.com