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Posts Tagged ‘old trout puppet workshop’

Okay, that’s a lie. I’m actually leaving on Air Canada. But that doesn’t sound half as romantic, and the plane will probably be late, and there will be all sorts of complications, and I’ll lose my suitcase, and there will be jet lag and general nausea…

I mean, yay! traveling!

This Sunday I am leaving Ottawa to do some research in Western Canada for my MA thesis. In case you’re not familiar with my academic work, I am currently studying at the University of Ottawa in the new Master of Arts program in Theatre Theory and Dramaturgy. That means lots of writing.

My thesis examines the role of festivals in the consecration and distribution of new works. I’m researching three different companies – Catalyst Theatre in Edmonton, the Old Trout Puppet Workshop in Calgary, and Electric Company Theatre in Vancouver – and looking at how their productions have developed through the process of touring and participating in festivals. Here’s hoping it’ll be awesome and revolutionary; or at least that I’ll pass the program…

Here is my itinerary so far:

  • EDMONTON – January 10 to 17
    Purpose: visiting with Catalyst Theatre and attend rehearsals for Nevermore. Also visiting with the Artist in Residence at the Citadel Theatre. Oh, and freezing to death in the street.
  • CALGARY – January 17 to 28
    Purpose: seeing shows at the High Performance Rodeo (long-running international festival created by members of One Yellow Rabbit) and getting the general vibe of the event. Hopefully visiting the workspace of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop.
  • VANCOUVER – January 28 to February 7
    Purpose:
    seeing shows at the PuSh Festival (newer international festival) and meeting with Norman Armour. Also visiting the Electric Company Theatre and finding out more about their first show Brilliant! The Blinding Enlightenment of Nikola Tesla. I’ll be seeing the following shows at the PuSh Festival: Joan of Arc, Clark and I…, Passion Project, Edward Curtis, Sonic Genome, Nevermore, Best Before, and Kamp.

I will try not to have too much fun because this is supposed to be a research trip for academic purposes and I’m going to be working really hard. At least that’s what I’m telling the university…

Check back on this blog for more details: I’ll be posting reviews of shows, sharing travel stories, and disclosing fun theatre gossip. Stay tuned!

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Death to the inanimate object!

Deconstructing the art of puppetry and the Old Trout Puppet Workshop production of Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Jessica Ruano

April 17, 2009

nordo-frot

In the Old Trout Puppet Workshop production of Famous Puppet Death Scenes, spectators are persuaded to rethink not only the relationship between human beings and puppets, but also their general assumptions about life and death. By looking at death through the eyes of inanimate beings, this production is encouraging a re-evaluation of what is commonly believed to be true about mortality; it is an undermining of truth, as occurs in a deconstructive reading of text. This is especially interesting in terms of this Calgary-based company because ideas surrounding life and death are not only the subject of this particular work, but also the vehicle for presenting the work.

The company chooses to create work that utilizes and is inspired by puppets, which are defined by theatre practitioner Steve Tillis as theatrical figures perceived to be objects, yet imagined to have life. Tillis explains that while spectators understand that they are watching objects, and not live actors onstage, still “for the duration of the performance, [the audience] chooses to imagine, at least to a certain degree, that the objects presented before it onstage have life” (46-7).

nathaniel-tweakThis essay will examine the dual nature of puppets in the theatre and why this makes them ideal candidates for a discussion about death. Through an examination of the archetypical puppet in relation to a number of binary opposites – including life and death, being and non-being, and presence and absence – this essay will deconstruct the art of puppetry with a special emphasis on the Old Trout Puppet Workshop production. This deconstructive reading of puppetry in general and Famous Puppet Death Scenes in particular will reveal the various and often contradictory truths about puppet mortality.

Continue reading…

Online references:

“Even Puppets Die” — my interview with puppet Nathaniel Tweak in the Ottawa XPress

“The Execution of Margot Rumebe” — video featuring members of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop

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