Socks and Water!

This year started off with a bloody brilliant 16 days with a fantastic bunch of people at the Banff Puppet Theatre Intensive presented by the Old Trout Puppet Workshop.

Didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for it. I just knew it had to do with puppets and I like puppets! It was intensive 9:30 am – 9:30pm and sometimes into the wee hours of 1am (but that was by my own devices and the vortex of the Banff mountains). Though we did get 2 days where we had the morning off and 1 full day off. My full day off was spent in the studio playing around with all the awesome materials and spying on my fellow puppeteers wonderful creations and learning from them ingenious techniques!

Program Details

“The first component of the Banff Puppet Theatre Intensive is a physical approach to the art of puppetry which supports the idea that the strength of the puppet lies in its visual application and is not driven by text. Over the course of the workshop there will be physical mask exercises, translated to puppets, identifying a specific articulation of the silent narrative. Students will move their bodies through various exercises drawing on the Japanese techniques of Tadashi Suzuki, as well as Impulse Theory, developed in Poland by Kaz Piesewaski. Both of these influences will work to develop a physical connection to the ensemble, as well as create clarity within the silent narrative, telling a story without words. This work is integral to developing a common language understood by the individual within the ensemble while identifying the ensemble as an individual.

The second component of the workshop will be how to approach the big picture and the creation of a show. Puppeteers will participate in an actual process and create a small work-in-progress puppet show. Along the way the entire class will come together and discuss each group’s progress and offer solutions or identify problems they see with how the efforts are shaping up. The emphasis here is: how best do ensembles work? how do they overcome ego and stimulate open inspiration? The result is a presentation with puppets. Some puppets will be provided by the Old Trout, as well as full character masks that operate much like a puppet, also puppets are encouraged to be brought in by the students, rough puppets can be built, as well as found objects used to present the story ideas.

The third component shall be the exploration of puppet design. Operating from the principal that the less rules that are applied to what a puppet is the greater the possibilities that are afforded to the artist. Students are given nothing but paper and tape to begin with, and then left to their own ingenuity, developing the puppeteer’s greatest strength.”

What did I gain?  More awareness of  the body and what it can do if I let it, focus from the centre, friendship with an amazing group of people, brilliant new puppet techniques (who knew newspaper, masking tape and plastic bags can make some wicked puppets), knowing the true meaning of enjoying the process and collaborations.

Here’s some photos of my experience taken by me but most by some lovely fellow puppeteers