Once upon a time, two little girls named Wendy and Pam crawled into their attic to create puppets from popsicle sticks and cardboard, making epics like the semi-autobiographical, Hood the Horrible. Inspired by these childhood memories, Founding and Artistic Director, Wendy Passmore-Godfrey BFA, established WPTS as a charitable, not-for-profit society based in Calgary, Alberta in 1991.
At WP Puppet Theatre (WPTS), we seek to spark curiosity; provide understanding about the world we live in; examine the issues of our time; consider solutions and inspire our audiences to become active, ethical and involved citizens through puppetry.
Puppets bring joy, supply a creative outlet, help diverse groups of people to better understand each other, promote diversity, exercise tolerance and provide a creative platform to express controversial and significant social issues. Puppets can do almost anything!
The Innovative and Explorative Puppet Theatre of WPTS
- Producing and performing original shows, which tour throughout Alberta, transforming school gyms and community centres into theatres with lights, sound and stunning sets.
- Presenting a wide range of learning experiences in and about puppetry in schools and at community events for both children and adults.
- Community engagement projects building connections and social capital.
- Annually reaching over 5,000 people at over 150 events.
The Arts are one of the most effective ways to learn. Here are some of the ways puppets have impacted our audience:
- During a student performance, Amar, a selective mute student, found the courage to say his line in front of 500 people with the help of his puppet
- In a ‘youth at risk’ class, students who normally struggle to engage in class subjects, became completely immersed in carving marionettes
- Kids will flat out copy our child-friendly performance puppets to create their own characters, tell their own stories and express their ideas (We’re obviously flattered!)
- Parents who remember seeing us as children now bring their own kids to experience our shows. Generational impact!
There is proven economic value to the Arts, but there is also power in the immeasurable grin of imagination in action. Since 1991, WPTS has:
- Created over twenty unique puppet productions, with themes ranging from frogs to friendship
- Partnered with other organizations to teach about animals at the Calgary Zoo, court system protocols, hospital procedures and more
- Produced “Puppet Power” an international conference series that shows how puppets broach serious issues like family violence, prejudice or mental health. We train people how to use puppetry for their own social causes and introduce them to inspiring peer mentors
- Launched Rapid Idea Sessions (RIGS) that partner WPTS with an NGO. Together we create a puppet-based project for the delivery of their social mandate
“When we perform, a wonderful bond is formed, as the audience collectively bring the puppets ‘to life’ through their imaginations.”
Puppets have long held special power as metaphors, proxies and stories which have a power that transcends time and cultures. Here is how we have combined artistic quality and story telling:
- We push the definition and challenge the perceptions of what puppetry is by integrating other art genres such as installation, performance art, video and public art
- We ensure our art is accessible for young audiences to ‘try it themselves’
- We are proud to state that we don’t do cookie cutter work, we don’t dumb it down, and we don’t exploit our art form or our audiences
“The performance exceeded expectations. Such a simple design filled with imagination galore.” (Audience member)