a puppet play about the Power of Charisma

Ububu is a bawdy, absurdist puppet comedy about the power of charisma and the charisma of power, told with marionettes. The play examines how people in power manipulate the stories that affect our lives, and how we let them. Set in the timeless kingdoms of the Ultimate Ububu and Papa Popeddy, these two rulers flirt with mutually-opposed domination. When the Papa gives birth to a puppet man, Franco Francesco, and sends him as mole to Ubeland’s ol’Factories, Ububu goes berserk with vengeance. “Popeddy’s quinced me one too many times,” explodes Ububu, “And you all will pay!”

Based on the historical meeting between St Francis of Assisi and the Ayyubid Sultan Malik al-Kamil in the 13th century, Ububu unpacks a little-known historical moment to examine what about a character creates lasting charisma.

premiered April 2014 with the help of ~

The combination of virtuosic puppetry and live acting featured the charismatic performances of Maren Ward, Elise Langer, and Skyler Nowinski. The team of directors included Theatre Novi Most’s Lisa Channer and Jerome fellows Sarah Saltwick and Jake Jeppson, with advice from Dreamland Arts’ Zaraawar Mistry. Ranpura’s projected animations and shadow puppetry connected the medieval and modern worlds, blending media and bending traditional expectations about theatrical space in this wild journey about history.


This activity was made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. It has been developed with the support of the Jerome Many Voices fellowship at the Playwrights’ Center of Minneapolis.