Conference explores how puppetry can transform lives and (re)animate communities torn apart by Apartheid in South Africa


WP Puppet Theatre’s Puppet Power Conference, June 1-3, in Calgary is thrilled to welcome puppeteer Sonia Norris.  Sonia will present the talk, (Re)animating Communities with Inanimate Objects: Handspring Puppet Company’s Community Puppetry Project in Western Cape, South Africa and discuss the power of storytelling in a community suffering the impact of historical marginalization. Through the work of Handspring Puppet Company’s Barrydale project, Sonia looks at a community seeking to transform its positioning while struggling with the desire for reconciliation amidst inconsolable atrocities

The Barrydale project is a large-scale outdoor community puppet production focused on shifting the racialized rift created by Apartheid when it was split into a white community, Barrydale, and a non-white community, Smitsville. Sonia will discuss how this project is impacting what South African puppetry scholar Jane Taylor terms “the racialized deformations of the Apartheid state”.  The discussion also looks at transforming the lives of youth within this community through the imaginative power of puppetry arts and storytelling.

Sonia Norris works internationally as a director, devisor, playwright and teacher in theatre, circus, puppetry, mask and clown.  She has worked with Handspring and Ukwanda Puppet Collective for two years on their community puppet productions in Barrydale, South Africa, (Olifantland 2016Renosterbos 2017) as well as in London at the National Theatre on the new production of War Horse, and in 2018 she will return to the Barrydale project as Associate Puppet Director.

Puppet Power 2018: Story is a Conference on Applied Puppetry, June 1-3, 2018, in Calgary, AB, Canada.  Explore the transformative power that puppetry has to tell stories, inspire dialogue and make meaning of our world today.  Learn, play, and galvanize with hands-on workshops, talks, panels, and more!

Find out more about the conference or register at the early bird rate until March 31st!