Martin Robinson, Sesame International, says, “If you can make a difference in the world – how can you not do it?”
In 2001 W.P. Puppet Theatre Society, wanting to expand our performance and education practice, took up this very challenge and, as a result, launched PUPPET POWER.
The PUPPET POWER conference on applied puppetry, i.e.: puppetry beyond performance, explores the theory and practice of how puppetry arts promote positive social change. It provides inspiration, modelling, peer mentorship and alliance- building as well as hands-on training in all facets of using puppets. It puts the power of puppetry put in the hands of the people. (Or the hands of the people put into puppets!)
He made a wooden spoon puppet representing his mother, when all the other kids made puppets of themselves. Joseph is one of a busy family of six children. He wishes he could have more of his Mum’s attention.
She stepped out of her fear to grow as an artist and as a person.
Who guided 60 grade two students to make over 100 puppets, all with their own individual personalities, and produce movies such as “Nicolas Makes Fun of John” and “No Standing on Chairs in the Lunchroom”.
Produced biennially, the conference includes international speakers as well as many local, national, emerging and professional presenters. Spanning two to three days the event draws around one hundred, local and national attendees, from three demographics: professionals i.e.: teachers, social workers, therapists, health care; artists looking to extend their practice by making connections; and thought leaders, idea generators and students. The conference features a friendly blend of keynotes, hands on workshops, peer mentoring, exhibits, and panels, as well as professional puppet shows to model best practices in the art of puppetry.
Highlights of our past conferences include:
2018: STORY: The very successful weekend inspired, galvanized, encouraged, and
mentored over 150 attendees to think deeply about ‘story’, and experience the transformative power of all things, living and non-living, to tell stories – including stories and songs that have been told on this land for thousands of years by our first peoples.
2016: Connecting Generations: Two keynotes: Karrie Marshall of Creativity in Care (Scotland) and Eric Bass of Sandglass Theater (USA), move the audience to tears as they speak of their work with dementia and Alzheimer participants. Sharon Bayly (Vancouver), Marla Limousin (Courtney) and Mudfoot Theatre (Calgary) were also wonderful presenters.
Relive the weekend’s events in our Photo Gallery.
2007: Puppets as Agents of Social Change featured Gary Friedman speaking on Puppets in Apartheid and a giant puppet parade in which the puppets themselves presented a Manifesto based on the UN Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
2005: Puppets Promote Literacy had Judith O’Hare present The Literacy Connection as keynote.
2002: Puppets as a Therapeutic Medium saw Mickey Aronoff presents “A Soul in the Palm of your Hand” as the keynote.
2001: Puppet Power Inaugural: Matthew Bernier spoke and lead wonderful workshops on puppets used in therapeutic interventions.
Over the years PUPPET POWER has galvanized our participants and they’ve said:
“It was great to get out of the box of regular items and use other items. Workshop was too short! I had so much fun.”
“The motivation in this conference was great and gave me a green light to put in practice the dormant ideas in my head. “
“I expected to get Ideas, Inspiration and networking and YES that’s what I got. Empowered is how I feel. “
“The convergence of ideas and unusual ‘puppet people’ sparked many creative, entrepreneurial ideas for me”