Grant #390


March 16, 2020

In Bolivia, Puppets Are New Old-Fashioned Entertainment And These Shows Aren’t Just For Children

Puppets used to be superstars in the centuries before screens were invented. They were on stage, dramatizing stories for people who came from miles away to experience live entertainment.

Puppets seemed passe as movie theaters and later televisions and personal devices provided the latest in storytelling. But in Bolivia, a troupe of puppeteers decided to celebrate this traditional Latin American art form and do what they could to keep it alive. That’s how Titeres Elwaky (‘titeres’ means ‘puppets’) came to be in 2002. Still going strong with an impressive repertoire of their greatest hits, they’ve just presented “Titendanzante,” a local festival highlighting arts and culture in the city.

The ensemble, made up of descendants of indigenous urban families, premiered one new puppet show and shared the best of their repertoire with hundreds of spectators. If anyone asks you “What’s the Puppet Capital of Bolivia?” you say “Cochabamba,” where Titeres Elwaky plans to create the first puppet museum. Surely they’ll write it up in the country’s first puppet magazine, which they created last year.

Our Awesome grant helped with renting lighting and sound, along with materials that were needed to finish making the new puppets and scenery needed for the fresh productions. Our cash also allowed Titeres Elwaky to keep ticket prices low so the performances were affordable or free to many.

Did we mention their stories feature female heroines, indigenous defenders, children, and the smallest of creatures, unlikely characters to be the powerful protagonists! This means twists and surprises, eventually shifting perception and perspective relating to the historically belittled, discriminated or marginalized, including women, children, indigenous populations, the homeless, and those living in the natural world.

Read all about them here, and follow along with their work on Facebook.

Category: Art, Children, Community, Culture, Performance, Theater, Youth



After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders