Puppet Power Presenters and Sessions 2018

Puppet Power: Story 2018 Conference on Applied Puppetry  June 1-3, 2018.

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

Nan Balkwill
Pia Banzhaf
Ken Bighetty, Kelsey Bighetty and Russell Bighetty
Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete
Mike Czuba
Jaunita Dawn
Emma Fisher and Ivan Owen
Sylvia Kind
Sonia Norris
Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, Pat Tarr, and Sayward Wilkinson Blanc
Andrew Periale
Ann Powell and David Powell
Puppet Potpourri
Jovanka Rivi
Glenn Taylor


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Nan Balkwill

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry

Nan Balkwill is a drama and yoga teacher for the Calgary Board of Education, as well as co-director of the New England Puppet Intensive in Massachusetts. As a puppeteer she has worked and created with the Green Fools Theatre Society, Vermont’s Bread and Puppet, Clunk Puppet Lab, Animated Objects Festival, Long Grass Studio’s Broken Sugar Bowl and Iinisikimm.

WORKSHOP: Iinisikimm – A Puppet Lantern Build Workshop
Saturday June 2, 2018, 1:30pm – 4:30pm
This workshop will start with an introduction to the Innisikimm project through a brief slide show and talk with co-director Nan Balkwill.  In the second part of the workshop participants will have an opportunity to build their own puppet lantern. 

click for full workshop description
Iinisikimm is a celebration for the return of the Buffalo to the wilds of Banff National Park. This past summer a multicultural group of artists gathered to create and perform an interdisciplinary, puppet-lantern spectacle. Performances took place in Banff, Calgary and at Camp Chief Hector. During this workshop we will start with a slide show and talk about the creation process and performance of Iinisikimm with co-director Nan Balkwill. During the second part of the workshop participants will receive instruction on basic design and lantern construction then given time to build a simple puppet lantern to take home. All materials will be provided and no experience necessary.  Katie Green will help facilitate this workshop.

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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 the 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 talk 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 Danny Bighetty

Bighetty Puppets (Manitoba)

We are brothers who grew up mimicking what was on Walt Disney on CBC ever Sunday. If it was Robin Hood we made bows and arrows; including buffalo hunts, spear hunts, Tarzan in the shoreline, vines from a tree; in the winter we told our stories and played inside. We would go sliding, build quizzes, and played out in the howling blizzard. War games with homemade guns, to slingshots, to torcher games as we grew older. At nights we played cops and robbers which was one cop, and touching three times on head you became a cop.  It was a lot of running in the boundaries we set up. We snared, hunted, fished and still use the land very much. We are all singers with hand drum, and follow our traditional ways.

click to read more about the Bighetty brothers
Our story telling comes from listening to Legends, mythologies and we grew up telling our story lines. When the Cree puppets came into play, it was natural banter to go back and forth. We all share in the process and Ken Bighetty President by word of mouth, and Russell the Vice President.

We do addictions; xbox, PS3, ipods, and we teach Cree with our puppets they communicate at a very different level. One observer said as we shadowed a therapist ‘that the kids were more receptive to the puppets.”

Ken Bighetty is the oldest brother, Russell Bighetty then Kelsey Bighetty; Danny Bighetty is the youngest and had to stop due to medical reasons. We all speak Cree fluently and using the puppets we visit all ages. It’s all ad-libbed with no rehearsal. Its like a quick visit with your relative and there are no boundaries; everyone we meet knows our puppets. As Russell puts it “I become the puppet” – we say anything that comes out, and everyone shares in the laughter.

We started 2 years ago, and our Condom video slowly crept up the Facebook audience, and then the following year our Cabin Scene. At our first conference we pulled up to McDonalds and the Mathias ordered “Do you have neckbones and ichiban?” which is a staple in the aboriginal community.
Our first road tour was 8 Saskatchewan Reserves in 6 days, our 5 am starts till 9pm were a brutal pace, we have three Facebook pages and many, many followers.

We work with RCMP, schools, Chiefs and Councillors, Principals, MP’s., Mathias is named after our First Chief in Pukatawagan, Mathias Colomb, Marcel is named after the sister Band Marcel Colomb First Nation who we saw growing up. Michele is named after a powerful Medicine man and also relative, and finally the Chief. Every community can relate to a Chief.

We have so much fun, traveling throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. We have been to remote northern communities, conferences, and in different language areas. Our goal is to start Cree lesson plans using our Cree Puppets. Also an alphabet, “B as in Bannock with your butter and your Baloney”. We also want to emphasize relationships, and for young people to respect their relations.

OPENING PLENARY SESSION with Mike Czuba and the Bighetty Brothers & Puppets
Saturday June 2, 2018, 9am-10:30pm
Included in conference and free for anyone else to attend
Join Mike Czuba, Conference Animateur, and the Bighetty brothers and their puppets to discuss the Power of Story and Puppetry and share how Bighetty Puppets is helping preserve Cree Language and Culture.


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Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete

Teatrong Mulat Ng Pilipinas (Mulat Theatre) (Philippines)

At a tender age, Amihan Bonifacio-Ramolete was thrust into the world of theatre and she continues to promote the importance of creative expression and learning through theatre and puppetry to this day.  Amihan was Chairperson of the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts and Managing Director of Dulaang Unibersidad ng Pilipinas.

click to read more about Amihan
She is also the company manager and senior puppeteer of Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas, artistic consultant of the Usbong Papet Baclayon in Bohol, and the Philippine representative to Union Internationale dela Marionnette (an international organization for puppet artists). She has been the recipient of prestigious awards namely the UPAA Distinguished Alumna in Culture and the Arts (2014), Natatanging Guro Gawad Chanselor (2014), UP Arts Productivity Award (2013), and The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award for Theatre Arts (2013). A proud UP Diliman alumna, she has bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees in Psychology and a master’s degree in Theatre Arts. She is an Associate Professor who handles undergraduate and graduate speech communication and theatre classes and is currently the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.


TALK: Promoting Resilience through Puppetry: The Typhoon Haiyan (Philippine) Experience
Saturday June 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm, 90 minutes
Sunday June 3, 2018, 1pm-2:30pm, 90 minutes
Learn how puppetry can be a tool for rebuilding and recovery after a disaster like a typhoon

click for full talk description

Amihan will talk about her experience working with Teatrong Mulat ng Pilipinas (MULAT) after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) devastated the Visayan region of her country in 2013. MULAT conducted workshops for daycare workers to build their capacity to work with children in a post-disaster context through puppetry and emphasized that puppetry can serve as a communication tool for rebuilding and recovery. Training the daycare workers in puppetry gave them an alternative medium for creative expression as well as a tool for teaching children. Puppetry could also be used as a psychosocial tool or therapy by daycare workers to relieve children from stress and trauma brought about by tensions, disaster, catastrophe or violence.



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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.

OPENING PLENARY SESSION with Mike Czuba and the Bighetty Brothers & Puppets
Saturday June 2, 2018, 9am-10:30pm
Included in conference and free for anyone else to attend
Join Mike Czuba, Conference Animateur, and the Bighetty brothers and their puppets to discuss the Power of Story and Puppetry and share how Bighetty Puppets is helping preserve Cree Language and Culture.


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Juanita Dawn

The Long Grass Studios (Calgary)

Juanita Dawn says she has focused her one wild and precious life into the pursuit of creating joy, through sculptural works, puppets, and masks. Behind each of her whimsical, quirky creations is a story — it is these everyday human dramas that fuels Juanita’s passion for work. These are the stories that speak to the souls of all those who allow her in.

click to read more about Juanita Dawn

Many years of nursing in reproductive health and raising two daughters has given Juanita an insight into the roots of the human spirit. She has been a witness to life’s greatest joys and deepest sorrows. These ageless human narratives run through her creative soul giving a breath of life to her unique body of work.
Juanita became tangled up in puppets and found a creative outlet that has sent her into a swirling vortex. She has been a vibrant part of the Banff Centre as an instructor for the Puppet Intensive Program since its inception.

As the owner of The Long Grass Studio in Calgary, Juanita teaches adult’s mask classes and children’s puppet making workshops. She has worked for The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Clunk Puppet Lab, Quest Theatre, Storybook Theatre, The Wined-Up Arsenal, The International Festival of Animated Objects, The Ignite Festival, and The Brief Festival. Her art has been exhibited in several venues and galleries over the years.

“Puppet building encompasses a multitude of skills and creativity which keeps you thinking, inventing, and reinventing until you get it right.” ~ Juanita Dawn


WORKSHOP: Needle Felting in Puppetry
Sunday, June 3, 2018, 9am-12pm, 3 hours
Introduce Needle Felting into your Puppet Building Skills.

click for full workshop description
‘SCULPTING WITH WOOL’ Needle Felting can be easily incorporated into construction and embellishment of your puppets.

During this hands-on workshop you will learn about the different kinds of wool, how to start your ‘shape’ and how to bring features and character to your own puppet. Workshop includes needles, starter-kit with 5 colors of wool & instruction.

You will have time to get a great start on your project – and will be able to take your kit home to complete your project at your leisure. No experience required.



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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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Sylvia Kind

Encounters with Materials (Vancouver)

Sylvia Kind, Ph.D. is a faculty instructor in Early Childhood Education at Capilano University and an atelierista at the Capilano University Children’s Centre. She has a particular affinity for the pedagogical values and approach of the schools in Reggio Emilia and their commitment to relational and artistic ways of knowing.  

click to read more about Sylvia Kind
Her work is motivated by an interest in young children’s studio practices, their lively material improvisations and collective experimentations, and in developing understandings of studio research in early childhood contexts. She has co-authored the book Encounters with Materials in Early Childhood Education and has written several journal articles and book chapters on studio work in early childhood.

WORKSHOP: Children’s Artistic and Expressive Languages: Thinking with Materials, Stories, Enactments, and Drawing
Sunday June 3, 2018, 9am-12pm
In this interactive presentation, participants are invited to engage with the processes, emergences, and insights from a project focusing on birds that has taken place over the last three years in the Capilano University Children’s Centre and Studio with children ages 2-5 years. We will experiment with artistic ways of knowing as we consider the richness and complexity of engaging in project work with children.


click for full workshop description

In this interactive presentation participants are invited to engage with the processes, emergences, and insights from a project focusing on birds that has taken place over the last three years in the Capilano University Children’s Centre and Studio with children ages 2-5 years. We will share moments and trajectories from the project while emphasizing children’s expressive and artistic languages and diverse ways of working with and through ideas. Participants will be invited to try out some of the children’s processes and experiment with artistic ways of knowing as we consider the richness and complexity of engaging in project work with children. There will be a focus on enlivening and engaging with the multiple creative and artistic languages, or hundred languages, that are part of children’s learning and experimentation processes and explore some of the potential of working with the possibilities and propositions of materials.


Sonia Norris

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

Sonia works internationally as a director, devisor, playwright and teacher in theatre, circus, puppetry, mask and clown. Her work spans professional and community projects including Movement Director at the Stratford Festival; Circus Director with Cirque du Soleil in the Arctic; Mask Director at the Banff Centre’s Indigenous Dance Program and with Red Sky Performance; Clown Director with Vancouver’s female clown company The Assembly; Director with LEGacy Circus creating/performing with double-amputee aerialist Erin Ball; directing Shona emerging artists in Zimbabwe for the HIFA Festival; and most recently, working with Handspring Puppet Company in South Africa.

click to read more about Sonia Norris

She has worked with Handspring and Ukwanda Puppet Collective for two years on their community puppet productions in Barrydale, South Africa, (Olifantland 2016, Renosterbos 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. Her research has been published in Puppetry International and she will present (Re)membering the Success of Survival Through the Body of the Puppet at the CATR conference 2018. Sonia trained at Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Ecole Philippe Gaulier, the Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre, Vancouver Playhouse Acting School, holds an MFA in Directing from York University, and is currently completing her PhD researching female clown as a performance of failure amidst the trauma of happiness, at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies.

TALK/WORKSHOP: (Re)animating Communities with Inanimate Objects: Handspring Puppet Company’s Community Puppetry Project in Western Cape, South Africa
Saturday June 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm, 90 minutes
Sunday June 3, 2018, 1pm-2:30pm, 90 minutes
Learn how Handspring’s Barrydale project is transforming lives and shifting the racialized rift created by Apartheid.

click for full talk/workshop description

Norris will discuss the power of storytelling in a community suffering the impact of historical marginalization, seeking to transform its positioning while struggling with the desire for
reconciliation amidst inconsolable atrocities through the work of Handspring Puppet Company’s Barrydale project. 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. Each year, on the Day of Reconciliation in mid-December, Handspring stages a puppet parade and community production telling a story based on traditional legends of the Khoisan people, interwoven with current social issues important to the residents of Smitsville.

Norris will discuss how this project is impacting what South African puppetry scholar Jane Taylor terms “the racialized deformations of the Apartheid state”, as well as transforming the lives of youth within this community through the imaginative power of puppetry arts and storytelling. Norris will explore the question, “Do we become more human by temporarily becoming other than human, when observing puppets?” with respect to her experiences working with Handspring’s Barrydale productions in 2016 and 2017.

NEW ADDITION to this session!!! This session will also include a hands-on workshop: PAPER PUPPET PEOPLE WORKSHOP: Exploring the Ordinary through the Extraordinary Body of the Puppet

This workshop will explore the puppeteer training techniques utilized by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company (creators of War Horse), developing skills in three-person ensemble animation. Participants will investigate object manipulation and then collectively build paper puppet people, exploring how to breathe life into inanimate objects. Focusing on the technique of three-person animation used by Handspring to develop sensitivity and listening amongst puppeteers, we shall identify how thoughts and feelings are animated in breath and movement, illuminating our shared humanity and revealing the lunacy of our collective animacy. Come explore our shared pleasure to play with the ordinary through the extraordinary body of the puppet!

Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, Pat Tarr, and Sayward Wilkinson Blanc

Pat Tarr, Ph.D. is Associate Professor Emerita of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. She has been interested in the Reggio Emilia philosophy since 1990 because it challenged her to rethink her assumptions about young children and their artistic expression. 

click to read more about Pat Tarr, Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, and Sayward Wilkinson Blanc

Pat Tarr‘s research and publications have focused on the possibilities of the Reggio philosophy for North American art and early childhood educators, particularly in classroom environments and pedagogical documentation. She is a board member of the Calgary Reggio Network Association. Since her retirement from academia, she has been pursuing a career as fibre artist. Alex, a large puppet, oversees her studio at the Burns Visual Arts Society. He reflects the interest she has had in puppets since she was a child.

Wendy Passmore –Godfrey, BFA, founded WP Puppet Theatre Society in 1991, and is full-time Artistic/Executive Director and principal performer.  Wendy has written, designed, built and performed over twenty innovative and explorative productions that have been seen by thousands of children and families in Canada and overseas.  She recently received the Puppeteers of America Marjorie Batchelder McPharlin Award for Education, for her teaching through, in and about the art of puppetry in school residencies, professional development and community engagement. Wendy is the curator of the Puppet Power Conference.

Sayward Wilkinson Blanc, BFA, B.Ed is the founding educator for the Children’s Commons Ecological Society’s Nature Kindergarten, a journey that started with the Common Digs Forest School in 2014. She has been teaching for 13 years with a focus on early childhood and art education. She is also a visual artist and has been studying and following the Reggio Emilia philosophy for the past 15 years. Sayward is a board member on the Calgary Reggio Network Association.

WORKSHOP: Fantasyscapes: Creating Rich Environments to Enhance Story Telling  Using Light, Shadow and Creative Technologies
Saturday, June 2, 2018, 1:30pm-4:30pm, 3 hours
Using natural and found materials, along with digital and other electronic tools, participants will create layered environments as backgrounds for storytelling, shadow play and puppetry.

click to read full workshop description
Pat and Sayward are delighted to collaborate with Wendy to develop and present this workshop. The fantasyscapes and puppets that participants will create using natural and found materials with digital tools has been based on our experiences in ateliers (studios) in Loris Malaguzzi International Centre on study tours to Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Our goals in working with materials and technology has been for educators to find ways to incorporate technology in rich and meaningful ways into learning experiences for children and to provide children with opportunities to use these as part of their repertoire of languages for expression and communication. We challenge participants to use their own experiences, and collaboration with others in the workshop to create new possibilities for storytelling.



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Andrew Periale

Editor of Puppetry International – UNIMA USA (New Hampshire), Perry Alley Theatre

Andrew Periale began working seriously with puppets during his undergraduate studies in theater. A subsequent Masters in German, including a stint at the University of Graz, Austria, opened his eyes to the wider community of puppeteers and motivated his further studies in France and Italy.

click to read more about Andrew Periale
Periale’s career cannot meaningfully be examined apart from that of his wife, Bonnie. The Periales began working together in 1982 and founded Perry Alley Theatre in 1986. They moved to their current home and studio in New Hampshire in 1988. Together, they’ve produced a dozen major shows and many shorter pieces for touring. Andrew and Bonnie have performed at national and regional festivals, the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for Puppetry Arts (Atlanta), the Jim Henson International Festival of Puppetry and in other venues across the U.S., France and Italy. They took over the production of A Propos magazine for UNIMA-USA in 1985, and together created the concept of Puppetry International magazine, which first appeared in the mid 1990s.

Recognition highlights include The Paul Vincent Davis Award, the George Latshaw Award, 3 Henson Foundation grants, 2 UNIMA Citations, an Emmy nomination, finalists in the International Festival of Film and Television and, from UNIMA-USA, a Lifetime Achievement award. In 2016, the Periales were elected Members of Honor of UNIMA, the international body governing puppetry.

WORKSHOP: Acting by Proxy: an Intro to Persuasive Manipulation
Saturday June 2, 2018, 1:30pm-4:30pm, 3 hours
Sunday June 3, 2018, 9am-12pm, 3 hours
A workshop for anyone interested in improving their manipulation or in the relationship between puppet and puppeteer. Wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to move.

click to read full workshop description
This is a workshop for anyone who wants to learn the basics of puppetry manipulation or improve on what they already know. We’ll work with hand puppets, rod puppets, and a very simple three-person puppet. We’ll use exercises from such puppeteers as Paul Vincent Davis (hand pantomime) and Philippe Genty (point fixe) as well as techniques learned over more than three decades of touring a variety of puppet types. In preparing a show there are always questions that can only be answered through experimentation: How does a particular puppet sleep, wake, become aware of its limitations, react to a variety of stimuli, breathe, project a range of emotions, wait, die? What is the effect on an audience when a puppet follows the laws of physics by which we are bound? And when they violate those laws? Can a puppet escape its puppeteers? Finally, we’ll create brief scenes, to put some of these techniques into a performance context. This will be an active workshop. Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move freely.
KEYNOTE TALK: Walking through Walls: The Further Adventures of the Green-editor and Pajama-girl
Sunday June 3, time TBA
Puppetry International is about more than puppetry, the Periales view it as an instrument of social change. It is a mission they continue to refine after 33 years on the Job.

click to read full talk description
Periale and his wife, Bonnie, began creating puppet shows together almost as soon as they met, in 1982. After a summer with Philippe Genty in 1985 at the Institut Internationale de la Marionnette, Andrew returned to assume the editorship of A Propos, the publication of UNIMA-USA. Bonnie, with her background in graphics, became the designer. They agreed to work on the project for two years: They have just completed their thirty-third year on the job, turning the small format, members-only publication they inherited into a full-sized magazine that is read by practitioners all over the world. What they have come to realize, is that PI is not merely about puppetry; in supporting UNIMA-USA’s core mission, namely, to promote international peace and understanding through the art of puppetry, it is as much as anything, an instrument of social change. In a world where speech, actions and even beliefs are often constrained, PI has also become, in some measure, subversive. Recent issues focused on the puppetry of Africa, China and Indonesia are (among other things) part of an ongoing effort to give voice to those who have been marginalized. Where people need access to the magazine, we find a way of getting it to them.

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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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Puppet Potpourri

Saturday, June 2, 4:45pm-6:15pm
Join us for inspired short puppetry talks, video screening including those created just for the conference, and puppet making of course! 

Puppet Making:

EYES on YOU!  Make a quick eyeball puppet to take home! Decorate your wide-eyed friend with crazy hair, hats, and all manner of what not! Materials and instruction supplied – you provide the fun.

Short Talks:

Using Story to Connect People and Science by Sarah Bannister.  Drawing on written sources and interviews conducted by the presenter, this talk will discuss how story can help people discover personal connections to topics and ideas, and why those connections are important when introducing people to new and/or intimidating subjects.
click to read more about Sarah

With a background in dance, gymnastics, theatre, and biology, Sarah explores ideas from science through artistic practice, creating physical, devised theatre performances designed to reignite curiosity about science and the natural world in theatre audiences. Sarah is currently completing her MFA in Directing from the University of Calgary.

Intergenerational Puppet Power by Shelley King.  Puppet Power has influenced Shelley’s business, Puppeteria, and her approach to puppeteering in many significant ways.  Shelley will share her recent Intergenerational Puppetry Project and reveal how it was influenced by her attendance at previous Puppet Power Conferences.
click to read more about Shelley

Shelley King is the owner and chief executive puppeteer of Puppeteria. She uses the magic of puppets as a workshop facilitator, entertainer, artist, social change agent, and on-line educator. Over the past two decades, Shelley has used her playful and interactive approach to teach and entertain thousands of people of all ages and abilities.

A Provocative Discourse with Birds by Rich Theroux and Jess Szabo.  Background information on Rumble House to give context and our “Why” – what we are pushing for.  The drive to make puppets and our discoveries going through the process of making the birds, practicing with the puppets, what we all got out of it.
click to read more about Rich and Jess

Rich Theroux and Jess Szabo are both local artists, authors, educators and co-founders of Rumble House, a local art gallery/studio. They run on an inclusive model, and are constantly trying out new avenues of expression and creation, hence: A Provocative Discourse With Birds.

Bringing the Unseen to Life through Puppets by Michelle Warkentin.  Puppets have the power to express life that like the wind is felt but not seen. Dementia, dreams and spirit become live beings journeying within the human experience.
click to read more about Michelle

Michelle is an actor, playwright, voiceover artist and professional puppeteer performing for thousands of children. She recently launched her new theatre company, Life Stages Theatre, which incorporates puppets into plays that look at life challenges as we age. With the success of her first play, “Family Tear”, she will debut her one woman show, “Mii Other Woman” at the Calgary Fringe 2018.

Life Outside the Box by Corina Duyn.  Puppets created by people with disabilities are stepping out of Society’s Disability Box.
click to read more about Corina

Corina Duyn is a Dutch born Artist, Writer, Puppet Maker & facilitator, who’s work is greatly inspired by her adopted country Ireland, nature and life with chronic illness/disability.

Pinocchio: Puppet, Fairy Tale, Robot by Dr. Georgia Panteli.  This video explores how Pinocchio, the puppet that became a real boy, is the connection between the world of fairy tales and that of robots.
click to read more about Georgia

Dr. Georgia Panteli completed her PhD in Comparative Literature at UCL and is currently working on her forthcoming book ‘From Puppet to Cyborg: Pinocchio’s Posthuman Journey’ (Legenda 2018). Her research interests include fairytale retellings, cyborg and cyberpunk literature, graphic novels, posthumanism and metafiction.

VIEW FROM THE INSIDE: COURAGE JOURNEY This video of WP Puppet Theatre’s award winning program is from our most recent work at Club 36 Alzheimer’s Society.
click to read more about VIEW

VIEW is a puppetry- based workshop that encourages discussion about mental wellness. Through the creation, exhibition and performance of a self-reflective mask-body puppet, participants develop community, foster resiliency and gain a voice for their stories. Participants, with their nursing student companions, talk about their lives through their mask – puppet puppets.



Jovanka Rivi, Pedagogista, Reggio Children, Italy

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others.  We are pleased to invite Jovanka Rivi to our conference to present a talk on Friday evening and Saturday morning, co-presented by the Calgary Reggio Network Association.

Jovanka Rivi has been a Pedagogical coordinator member of the pedagogical coordinating team of the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia (Municipality of Reggio Emilia) since 2004.


click to read more about Jovanka Rivi

Jovanka Rivi graduated in 1991 from the Istituto Magistrale “Matilde di Canossa”, and graduated in 2001 from the University in Bologna in Education, with a specialization on extra-school education. In the school year 2003-2004 Jovanka attended the Master course for Pedagogical Coordinator promoted by Reggio Children. Since 1992 she has been working for the Municipality of Reggio Emilia as a teacher in the preschool until 2003.
After the Master course for Pedagogical Coordinators she joined the pedagogical coordinating team of the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia.

Since 2004 she has been coordinating preschools and infant-toddler centres and until 2013 she was also part of the local coordinating team of “Officina Educativa”, project on the continuity between 0-6 and 6-14 age groups. She also participated in the professional development programme as part of the same project, as well as in language integration projects and extra-school programmes for 6-14 year olds.

Since 2014 she has been working full-time for the Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’ Infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia (Municipality of Reggio Emilia).
Since 2016 she has been coordinating the theatre laboratory Gianni Rodari of the preschools and infant-toddler centres of the Municipality of Reggio Emilia.

click for Jovanka Rivi's Curriculum vitae in Italian
Jovanka Rivi
Nata a Reggio Emilia il 15.12.1973

Pedagogista parte del coordinamento pedagogico dell’Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’Infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia dal 2004.

Diplomata presso l’Istituto Magistrale Statale “Matilde di Canossa” nel 1991.
Laureata presso l’Università di Bologna, con 110 decimi, in Scienze dell’Educazione, Indirizzo Educatore extra-scolastico, nel 2001. Nell’anno scolastico 2003-’04 ho frequentato il Master per Coordinatore Pedagogico, promosso da Reggio Children, finanziato dalla Regione Emilia Romagna. Dal 1992 lavoro presso il Comune di Reggio Emilia, prima come insegnante di scuola dell’infanzia, fino al 2003.

In seguito al Master di perfezionamento per coordinatori pedagogici, faccio parte dell’equipe di coordinamento dei nidi e delle scuole d’infanzia comunali del Comune di Reggio Emilia.
Dal 2004 ad oggi coordino nidi e scuole dell’infanzia comunali e congiuntamente, fino al 2013 ho lavorato come pedagogista, per metà del tempo orario settimanale di lavoro, come pedagogista parte del gruppo di coordinamento territoriale del Servizio Comunale “Officina Educativa”, che si occupa dei servizi scolastici 6-14 anni. Per Officina Educativa ho partecipato al progetto di formazione del gruppo di coordinamento comunale e dei relativi progetti di Continuità Educativa tra la scuola dell’infanzia e la scuola primaria; progetti di integrazione linguistica; servizi interdisciplinari extra-scolastici 6-14.

Dal 2014 a tempo pieno per l’Istituzione Scuole e Nidi d’ Infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia.
Dal 2016 seguo il coordinamento pedagogico del Laboratorio Teatrale “Gianni Rodari”, dei nidi e delle scuole d’infanzia del Comune di Reggio Emilia.

click to read more about the Reggio Emilia Approach
This global educational project, which is carried forth in the Municipal Infant-toddler Centers and Preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and has inspired other schools all over the world, is based on a number of distinctive characteristics: the participation of families, the collegial work of all the personnel, the importance of the educational environment, the presence of the atelier and the figure of the atelierista, the in-school kitchen, and the pedagogical coordinating team.

Focusing on the centrality of the hundred languages belonging to every human being, in the atelier spaces young children are offered daily opportunities to encounter many types of materials, many expressive languages, many points of view, working actively with hands, minds, and emotions, in a context that values the expressiveness and creativity of each child in the group.

Puppet Power Conference Dinner with talk by Jovanka Rivi, Pedagogista, Reggio Children, Italy
Co-presented by the Calgary Reggio Network Association
Friday June 1, 2018, 6pm-10pm

The conference will commence with a buffet dinner and talk by Jovanka Rivi, Pedagogista, Reggio Children, Italy.  Translation by Anna Marinzi.

Expressive Languages in Reggio Emilia Infant, Toddler Centres & Preschools
Co-presented by the Calgary Reggio Network Association
Saturday June 2, 2018, 10:45am-12:15pm

The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy based on the image of the child, and of human beings, as possessing strong potentials for development and as a subject of rights who learns and grows in the relationships with others.

Glenn Taylor

Glenn’s storied career as a performer and teacher includes over 25 years as founding member or OzFrank Theatre (Australia), performing numerous roles in both edgy and epic productions of classics such as Oedipus, The Romance of Orpheus and Macbeth.

click to read more about Glenn Taylor
He also toured with OzFrank in The Czech Republic and Croatia bringing to life Janez from Krleža’s The Royal Fair. Glenn more recently performed as part of Tadashi Suzuki’s summer festival in TOGA as God in The reckoning of Badengood (Everyman). He has created and directed numerous productions for young people and dedicated his MA research to embodied practice and drama curriculum. Glenn teaches NSP: an accumulation of performance training knowledge by Australian directors/theatre trainers John Nobbs and Jacqui Carroll. Glenn’s research in the field and experience as a teacher and actor, brings embodied practice in to the classroom and school theatre. He currently also teaches and consults for WP Puppet Theatre.

WORKSHOP: Liminal Beings and Linking Objects: What is Nobbs Suzuki Praxis (NSP) and Story?Saturday June 2, 2018, 1:30pm-4:30pm, 3 hours

This workshop explores how a physical theatre training method might apply in puppet theatre. Additionally, it demonstrates how embodied practice can be a tool to create STORY as a lived visceral experience.

click for workshop description

Glenn’s workshop introduction outlines the significance of lived visceral experience in aesthetic education. In particular, he challenges the concept of teaching physical theatre arguing that theatre is a lived symbolic form. If not ‘physical’ then what is it? Therefore, what techniques can we use to imprint/evoke physical/kinaesthetic knowledge of performance. How might the puppet theatre artist deepen their art though thinking and experiencing the body in a different way? Glenn illustrates how director Tadashi Suzuki conceptualizes the performer’s body and what a lived narrative or STORY might look like. A 70-minute practical performance training workshop will follow. Lastly, students from Sir Wilfred Laurier will present rehearsal showing of some puppetry vignettes they have developed in response to principles of Bunraku and school curriculum.

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Using the power of puppetry to impact social change.