2018 Presenters

Puppet Power 2018 features the following presenters. Click on a name to read their biography and a description of a workshop or talk that they are presenting:

Pete Balkwill and Nan Balkwill
Pia Banzhaf
Ken Bighetty, Kelsey Bighetty and Russell Bighetty
Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete
Mike Czuba
Jaunita Dawn
Emma Fisher and Ivan Owen
Sonia Norris
Andrew Periale
Ann Powell and David Powell

Pete Balkwill and Nan Balkwill

Biography and workshop description coming soon . . .
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Pia Banzhaf

Pia Banzhaf received her doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, Kingston, in 2017. In her practice-led transdisciplinary PhD project Towards a Cognitive Poetics of Puppetry, she explores how findings from cognitive psychology can help us understand the processes involved in the ascription of agency and animacy in moving objects.

click to read more about Pia Banzhaf

In addition, Pia demonstrates how contemporary performances productively make implicit use of these processes. Her work also includes forays into anthropological aspects and empirical aesthetics in so far as these relate to performances with puppets. Against the backdrop of her theoretical research, the auto-ethnographical part of her thesis chronicles Pia’s study of puppetry from the perspective of a practitioner.

Her work has been supported by grants from SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Resource Council, Canada), the province of Ontario, UNIMA-Canada, and the Institut International de la Marionnette, France. She is founding member of the Newfoundland Puppet Collective.

Pia currently teaches puppetry as well as German language and culture at Michigan State University.

 

TALK: How does it Work? The Cognition behind the Animacy Perception in Puppetry
Saturday June 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm, 90 minutes
Explore the biological prerequisite for animacy perception of puppetry from a theoretical perspective with practical examples.

click for full workshop description

During this talk, we will explore puppetry arts from a theoretical perspective with practical examples. Special emphasis on the cognitive psychology of animacy perception will lead us to question and reject Coleridge’s phrases “leap of poetic faith” and the “suspension of disbelief” as a prerequisite for accepting a puppet’s animacy. Moving puppets in a way that invites a spectator to ascribe animacy to them is tightly linked to particular principles of movement, shared attention, and breath. Skilled practitioners have intuitively implemented those movement parameters that facilitate animacy ascription. The same principles have been studied in cognitive psychology for nearly 60 years but until now have not been applied to puppetry arts in a systematic manner. In this talk we will see how insights from cognitive psychology can help us develop a critical vocabulary and add to our understanding of the processes that are activated in the spectator and what the role the puppeteer ultimately plays.

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Ken Bighetty, Kelsey Bighetty and Russell Bighetty

Bighetty Puppets (Manitoba)

biography coming soon . . .

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Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete

Teatrong Mulat Ng Pilipinas (Mulat Theatre) (Philippines)

Biography and workshop description coming soon . . .

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Mike Czuba

Dancing Monkey Laboratories (Calgary), the “animateur” for the conference

As a writer and creator, being allowed to spend time in different worlds is a blessing. To learn and witness new creative processes and to listen to how other artists discuss their work from distinct perspectives always fuel my own creation and challenges what I think I know. Being the Animateur of this year’s conference, especially as it’s dealing with story, I’m looking forward to be reminded of the enormity and the multitude of functions of that word.

Mike Czuba is writer, director and producer with a BFA and MFA in Playwriting. Originally from Montreal, he is currently a performance instructor at the University of Calgary and co-founder of the performance collective Dancing Monkey Laboratories (dancingmonkeylab.com).

click to read more about Mike Czuba

His play I AM I has been internationally produced and is published by Original Works Publishing. Multiple plays have been presented in Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Chicago, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Berlin. In 2015 his play Reprise had staged readings at both The Blank Theatre in Los Angeles and The Red Theatre in Chicago. In 2016 his play Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet was produced in Chicago by Genesis Theatrical Productions. 2016 also saw Dancing Monkey Laboratories participate in two invited residencies at Theatre Junction Grand in Calgary; to continue development of a multi-discipline piece entitled WE MUST COLLIDE, featuring 6 dancers, text and an original classical score and to explore a new work entitled HUMANOID – A LOVE SUPREME. A short film based on Humanoid entitled THE VOID was an official selection in the 2017 Philip K. Dick Film Festival in New York.
His TYA play BOY SEES FLYING SAUCER was just awarded the Laurie Award from The Growing Stage – The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey, with a world premiere in March 2018.

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Juanita Dawn

The Long Grass Studios (Calgary)

Biography and workshop description coming soon . . .

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Emma Fisher (Ireland) & Ivan Owen (USA)

Beyond the Bark

Emma Fisher is currently in the final stages of her PhD in Puppetry in the Department of Drama and Theatre Studies at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Her research is both practice-based and written. It explores unconventionally constructed puppets that reflect the disabled body, exploring where testimony and puppetry can meet, and looks at the history of puppetry to see how it has been applied in ways that transcend oppression and the body.

click to read more about Emma Fisher
She has recently published a paper with Laura Purcell Gates in the RiDE Journal, and in the Puppet Notebook. She is on the working group of the UNIMA Research Commission and in August 2017 organised a symposium in puppetry, disability and health called The Broken Puppet. She is currently organising The Broken Puppet 2 Symposium with Laura Purcell-Gates and Cariad Astles to be held at Bath Spa University in 2018. She is the secretary of Irish UNIMA.

She is a puppeteer, set and puppet designer and puppet playwright. She set up Beyond the Bark, an inclusive puppet and installation theatre in 2007, which has toured Europe. She was nominated for an Irish Times theatre award for set design in 2010. She worked for Helium Children’s Art and Health from 2009 to 2014 as a puppeteer in residence with children in isolation in hospitals.

Ivan Owen is an interdisciplinary artist exploring a wide range of topics.

click to read more about Ivan Owen
Co-inventor of the first open-source 3D printable hand prosthesis & a volunteer for the e-NABLE open prosthetics community. His past work has included musical composition, metal casting, jewelry, recreations of medieval armor and costume and prop making for stage and screen including Modern Family and Outrageous Acts of Science. His most recent project has been working with Emma Fisher to create a functional, wearable mechanical artistic creation & with her exploring ways in which digital fabrication can be utilized in puppetry.
TALK/WORKSHOP: Constructing fragmented puppets to explore personal constructs of the disabled body
Sunday June 3, 2018, 9am-12pm, 3 hours
Learn about Fisher’s auto-ethnopuppetry play Pupa and the exo-skeleton she designed with Ivan Owen to puppeteer her own disabled limb. Then create your own rod puppet to explore how we perceive illness and disability in our own bodies.

click for workshop description
Fisher will start this workshop with a talk, she will be joined by mechanical designer Ivan Owen. The talk will be about her auto-ethnopuppetry play Pupa and creating an exo-skeleton with Owen.

Inspired by fairytales, Pupa creates a fantastical world where the narratives of six disabled artists find expression through a range of characters. These testimonies examine what it is to identify with a disabled identity, and ‘come out’ as disabled. Within Pupa, Fisher experimented with unconventionally constructed puppets, as well as puppeteering her own disabled limb with an exo-skeleton, to question how she viewed disability in her own body.

Participants will then have an opportunity to make a simple rod puppet and explore how the puppets walk in the space. They will look at fragmenting the puppet to create a truer representation of how we view illness and disability in our bodies; questioning how in a puppet world where puppet bodies are all different what being “other” even means.

This workshop will explore the puppet’s body which is materially constructed and as such has the ability to represent everybody. This ability to physically embody any shape, makes the puppet ideally position to explore what it means to be disabled.

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Sonia Norris

(Toronto) who will be speaking about her collaboration with Handspring Puppet Theatre (South Africa)

Biography and workshop description coming soon . . .

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Andrew Periale

Editor of Puppetry International – UNIMA USA (New Hampshire)

Biography and workshop description coming soon . . .

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Ann Powell and David Powell

Puppetmongers Theatre (Toronto)

Since Ann Powell and David Powell founded Puppetmongers in 1974, the company has become internationally recognized as a leader and innovator in the field of puppetry.  They have created a dozen new plays for both young and general audiences, which have earned them and their collaborators a mass of awards.

click to read more about Ann Powell and David Powell
In 1996, Ann and David started The Toronto School of Puppetry to share their creative approach and provide a collaborative learning space for the puppetry community, and for multi-disciplinary artists interested in expanding their theatrical palette.  Ann and David continue to develop new work as a duo and also in collaboration with others, and they host an annual conference called Fresh Ideas in Puppetry for established and emerging artists to share their passion and expertise in puppetry.
TALK: Story Development in Puppet Theatre
Saturday June 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm, 90 minutes
Sunday June 3, 2018, 1pm-2:30pm, 90 minutes
Puppetmongers’ approach to story selection and story development into puppet theatre will be explored in this talk.

click for talk description
Puppetmongers’ approach to story selection and story development into puppet theatre will be presented in this talk, including how they strive to develop creative collaborations that will help reveal the underlying meaning of the stories that intrigue while expanding their own conception of the potential of puppetry, theatre and storytelling. They will also talk about how they educate, transport, delight and engage the consciences of their audiences, young and old, by exploring important stories which resonate in a contemporary context, by creating something never seen before, yet made accessible through its grounding within recognizable traditions of puppetry and storytelling. Ann and David will show examples of this process through their productions of Walidad the Grass Cutter (based on a traditional Iranian folktale), Foolish Tales for Foolish Times (four short traditional tales of foolishness from around the world) and more.

WORKSHOP: Scripting for Visual Theatre, from Page to Stage
Saturday June 2, 2018, 1:30pm-4:30pm, 3 hours

Develop your story idea into a storyboard script and then develop it further by trying it out with simple paper puppets.

click for workshop description
Through hands-on experience, participants will collaborate in small “production” groups to develop ideas or stories that they bring to the workshop, learning how to analyze and notate them as a storyboard script. The most important elements are recorded first, each on a separate piece of paper, allowing the story to be moved around and fitted together in different ways, to find the arc(s) of the story. Then the curlicues and flourishes are added – the asides and subplots, the drama, the comic relief and romantic interest – on more pieces of paper, as required. The writer will now be seeing not just the story emerging, but the beginnings of the design and staging of the show, with thoughts on character development, lighting and sound effects.
Once the storyboards are roughed out in this way, the participants will make simple, quick paper puppets (and any necessary props and set pieces) with which to develop staging and movement. Improvising from scene to scene, they will find the dialogue writing itself, practically from the puppets’ mouths, as they follow their plays from picture to picture. As staging and story discoveries are made the storyboard can be tweaked, edited and added to.

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Friday evening dinner and Speaker TBA – Co-presented by the Calgary Reggio Network Association

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