UNIMA Atlantic feature: Theatre du Poulet
Hello! We are Chun Shing (Roland) Au and Carmen Lee, a couple originally from Hong Kong with a passion for theatre and puppetry arts with a message for environmental awareness. After travel to Ireland and Canada, we’re now settled in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The formation of Theatre du Poulet was inspired by participation in Mermaid Theatre’s ANIMOTION program in 2016. Our work reflects the sentiments of our generation that most of the world is in chaos. Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America and The Middle East are all facing issues. So how does theatre and the arts respond to the turmoil and improve people’s lives? It’s our belief that theatre and puppetry can serve as an international language to share a message of truth, goodness and beauty to achieve the goal.
We have created two productions in the past two years – Home.Sick and The Extinction of Hong Kongers. Home.Sick uses spoken drama, physical theatre and puppetry theatre to tell five true inspiring stories from five people we met in our travels in Ireland and Canada.
The Extinction of Hong Kongers is a 40- minute puppetry & documentary-style production. It was performed in 2017 – twenty years after the United Kingdom handed sovereignty of the city to China. The play explores the ongoing tensions between Hong Kong’s pan-democrats and the Chinese authorities, and examines whether the promise of “one country, two systems” has been realized.
With the use of recycled materials and cardboard, audiences are offered a glimpse of the past, as we build the old Hong Kong. Subsequent scenes use puppetry to portray how Hong Kong’s unique culture faces erosion and possible extinction.
Our website is being restored. Please check on our activities on Facebook
from Tara Manuel, Shadowy Souls
I am currently the artist in residence at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre, deep in the development of my original puppetry play, The Lady of The Falls. The play is about Friendship, Memory, and Being all in it together. The show combines shadow puppetry with Bunraku style puppetry, with action moving back and forth in front of and behind the screen.
Every aspect of the show is being created from scratch, so there are currently a lot of moving pieces! I have been really fortunate to find some excellent colleagues to work with me on developing this piece. Michael Rigler has created the beautiful shadow puppetry world, and is working on a short shadow puppet animation scene. Michael Waller, current Chair of Theatre at Grenfell Campus, is directing, Louise Gauthier, performance artist and clown teacher is puppeteering the Lady puppet with me, and also helping to paint the set! Adam Brake, actor and Youth Theatre Director for Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador, is puppeteering Raven.
Our first performance will be on February 23rd at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Center. After that, we intend to prepare the show for touring, with our first engagement in the spring at the Iceberg Festival on the Great Northern Peninsula, NL. This work has been generously supported by ARTSNL, and by the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre.
In Other News:
A very young St. John’s puppeteer has a talk-style show on Rogers TV. Jake Thompson is the creator behind NL NOW. Jake has been a big Muppet fan since the age of two. He started a puppetry Youtube channel at the age of 11 in March 2016, and last year launched his show on Rogers TV. Through his main character, Gary Wheeseltin, Jake interviews St. John’s based entertainers. His production is all kinds of awesome and he has quite a large number of episodes available for viewing on his website:
UNIMA Atlantic welcomes new members:
Marionnettes en Valise | Backpack Puppets
La jeune compagnie de théâtre de marionnettes Marionnettes en Valise (Backpack Puppets) a commencé cet automne à donner des ateliers de marionnettes à des groupes d’enfants. Les co-fondatrices, Annie Maheux et Camille Banville, se sont données comme mission d’éveiller le potentiel créatif des gens tout en construisant des ponts entre les cultures. Cet hiver, Annie donnera des ateliers en Afrique du Sud et au Sénégal et Camille, dans les territoires du Nord-Ouest et au Yukon. Elles resteront en communication afin d’établir un parallèle entre les différents groupes qui participeront au projet. Marionnettes en Valise (Backpack Puppets) met un point d’honneur à travailler à partir de contes et de matériaux recyclés afin de faire vivre la tradition orale et faire revivre les objets. La première étape de l’aventure s’est déroulée à Montréal, Qc, où Annie et Camille ont donné, ensemble, un atelier spécial Noël dans quelques centres communautaires, garderies et une école. En voici quelques souvenirs!
p.s. Nous vous invitons cordialement à visiter notre site web pour apprendre à mieux nous connaître: marionnettesenvalise.com
Pour Marionnettes en Valise | Backpack Puppets
Update from Nova Scotia
from Professor Dawn Tracey Brandes, Ph.D
Dr. Brandes has accepted a new position at a part-time faculty member in the Fountain School of Performing Arts at Dalhousie University. She’s had an active year both as a scholar and teacher, and offered courses in both Modern and Contemporary Theatre at Dal, both of which included aspects of puppetry. Students in the Modern Theatre session read Edward Gordon Craig’s The Actor and the Ubermarionette, as well as Maurice Maeterlinck’s marionette play Interior and Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. Dr. Brandes’ Contemporary Theatre class included a week on contemporary puppetry, with a focus on Handspring Puppet Company as well as the work of Blind Summit, Snuff Puppet and Hotel Modern among others. She will teach a class on Bread and Puppet Theatre in the second half of her Modern Theatre course, and hopes to broaden the scope of puppet studies with the introduction of puppet theory courses in the near future.
Dr. Brandes was among the organizers of a Puppetry and Material Performance Working Group at the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference, held in Atlanta this year from Nov. 16 – 19. The session included papers from 18 scholars, which generated robust discussion. A similar endeavour is planned for next year, with the goal of publishing an edited collection about puppetry inspired by the submissions.
Some further comments from Professor Brandes:
Puppetry International‘s Fall/Winter 2017 edition, focusing on Puppetry in Education, has been released. Our next edition will be on the theme of Puppetry in Therapy for the Spring/Summer 2018 edition. I’m the Peer Review Editor for the journal. You can learn more about Puppetry International here:
There is is a lecture series at the University of King’s College that might be of interest! It’s called “Automatons!: From Ovid to AI,” and I’ll be presenting a lecture as part of the series on February 28 called “Imagined Puppet Life.” Here is the announcement: https://ukings.ca/events/automatons-imagined-puppet-life/. “
Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia update:
The Institute of Puppetry Arts – Spreading Magic Near and Far
Founded in 1998, Mermaid’s teaching wing now boasts alumni on several continents. The Institute, which offers diverse classes at all levels of development as well as mentoring and outreach activities, has broadened its scope to include a teaching circuit in China directed to family participants, educators and community recreation leaders. Plans for the future include the launching of a substantial well-equipped studio space designed specifically for Institute activities.
At home, the Institute offers specialized training for theatre artists who seek enhanced professional-level skills. Based at Mermaid’s spacious headquarters in Windsor, Nova Scotia, the Institute’s three-week ANIMOTION intensive will be held from April 25-May 11, 2018. The program offers a dual emphasis on animation and objects in motion, with students engaged in hands-on instruction, group creation, production, and puppet construction.
About UNIMA International
The Union Internationale de la Marionnette (UNIMA) is the oldest international theatre organization in the world with 6000 members in 100 countries. The organization represents an incredibly strong and diverse network of passionate artists, researchers and educators working n over 100 countries. Every four years, representatives from member countries convene for the congress and World Puppetry Festival – the 2020 event will take place in the Gianyar regency of Bali, Indonesia. Mark your calendars!
Other puppetry notes…
- The Casteliers Festival brings puppetry professionals from around the world to Montreal – this annual event will be held Mar 8-11, 2018. More details are available at: http://festival.casteliers.ca/
- Don’t forget that the ACPA/AMCA members are encouraged to send updates about your puppetry-related activities in the region. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future Journal. Submissions can be in either English or French (or both!).
- UNIMA Canada maintains an excellent website, with updates, events, and interesting stories from the world of puppetry. It’s online at unimacanada.com
- The ACPA/AMCA maintains this blog/journal, as well as a Twitter feed: @AtlantiqueUNIMA and a Facebook Page: facebook.com/UNIMAAtlanticCanada
Winter Journal editors: Lee Lewis & Jason Tucker