LEWISTON — A Vermont theater company that uses theater and puppetry to explore pressing issues, inspire dialogue and celebrate the human spirit stage two performances at Bates College this week.

Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vermont, will perform “Babylon, Journeys of Refugees” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and at 5 p.m. Saturday in Gannett Theater in Pettigrew Hall, 305 College St.

The performances are open to the public at no cost, but with a suggested donation of $5. 

Sandglass is distinctive, in part, because of its robust community orientation. An original work based on interviews with refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Burundi, “Babylon” mixes live actors and puppets in an exploration of the relationship between refugees, their homelands — both lost and new — and the conflicts that arise in the countries to which they flee.

“We’re really asking, ‘How can we become more compassionate listeners and how can we spark dialogue about this extremely complex issue?” said Keila Ching, a Sandglass performer who helped create “Babylon.” A member of the Bates College Class of 2019, Ching, originally of Honolulu, is a dance major at Bates who has also had extensive experience with theater at the college.

“So, while the show is about the journey of refugees, it’s also very much reflective of the dialogue that’s going on with American people, especially communities that have high refugee or asylum-seeker populations.” Ching, who first performed the show in Portland with Sandglass last year, helped bring it to Bates.

Using puppets and moving panoramic scrolls, the five performers tell the refugees’ stories in original four-part choral songs. Resembling the Japanese puppetry style called “bunraku,” the puppets are operated by performers on stage.

“We’re not manipulating the puppets to have them do what we want them to do,” Ching said. “We’re animating these characters and breathing life into them — it’s very much a breath-based approach.

“So when a character sees something, they inhale it, and the breath of the puppet is intimately connected to the breath of the puppeteer.”

For more information, please call 207-786-6161.

Keila Ching, a member of the Bates College Class of 2019, appears at upper center in a Sandglass Theater performance of “Babylon, Journey of Refugees.” (Photo courtesy of Sandglass Theater)