photo by Richard Termine

photo by Richard Termine

Creator’s Note

Chimpanzee is based on the stranger-than-fiction stories of chimpanzees raised as children in human homes, in a series of cross-fostering experiments conducted in the United States. When these chimpanzees matured, or when funding dried up, some of these cross-fostered chimps went on to live as test subjects in a radically different area of scientific research - pathogen studies performed in biomedical facilities. Despite a 2015 announcement by the NIH that all federally owned chimpanzees would be retired to sanctuaries, hundreds of chimpanzees remain warehoused in labs to this day.

Production History & Support

Chimpanzee premiered at HERE Arts Center, presented by Barbara Busackino and Basil Twist’s Dream Music Puppetry Program. It was made possible through the unwavering support of Cheryl Henson and the Jim Henson Foundation. Chimpanzee was the recipient of the 2019 Jim Henson Foundation Residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and received work-in-progress presentations at Puppetry at the Carriage House and The Puppet Lab at St Anne’s Warehouse. Chimpanzee will be making its European premiere at the World Puppet Theater Festival in Charleville-Mézières, thanks to the generous support of The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Cheryl Henson, Basil Twist, and Barbara Busackino.

Upcoming Dates

September 27-28, 2019 The World Puppet Theater Festival - Charleville-Mézières

October 16-18, 2019 Casteliers - Montreal

January 2020 The London Mime Festival - London


Photos by Richard Termine


ABC’s The Artistry of Chimpanzee

"gorgeous puppet play…a meticulous, deeply felt nonverbal memory play."

-New York Magazine

"an extraordinary and heartbreaking piece."

-The Theatre Times

“Riveting theater.”

-Theater Pizzazz

“A delightful and superlatively moving account of memories and dreams”

-Berkshire Fine Arts

"magnificently crafted"

-Theatre's Leiter Side

“This is how puppet animals — like…the smart and lonely ape at the center of Nick Lehane’s play “Chimpanzee” — climb into our hearts. The puppeteers supply movement, which is the spark of life, while we supply the sympathy. As investments go, that can have a rich payoff.”

-The New York Times


Created and Directed by Nick Lehane

Puppeteers: Rowan Magee, Andy Manjuck, and Emma Wiseman

Lighting Designer and Associate Set Designer: Marika Kent

Associate Lighting Designer: Ayumu “Poe” Saegusa

Sound Designer: Kate Marvin

Associate Sound Designer: Avery Orvis

Puppet and Set Designer: Nick Lehane

Stage Manager: Mariah Plante