Journal Spring/ Summer 2019


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 in 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 from April 13-19. Mark your calendars!

Don’t forget that the ACPA/AMCA members (under the umbrella of UNIMA ATLANTIC) are encouraged to provide updates about your puppetry-related activities in the region. Send your news to for inclusion in a future Journal. Submissions can be in either English or French (or both!).

Spring/Summer  Journal editor: Pam Moore

Newfoundland & Labrador update

News from Corner Brook: Tara Manuel, Shadow Souls Inc.

After The Way Forward Cultural Plana sold -out tour of the island’s Arts and Culture Centres, we are preparing for Labrador leg of The Lady of the Falls provincial tour. We will be performing in May at the St. Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre in Goose Bay and at the Arts and Culture Centre in Labrador City. I will also be leading workshops in puppetry performance soon as we get back to the west coast of NL, Louise Gauthier and myself will be heading to the small coastal community of Wesport to undertake an Arts Smarts project with the students at the K-12 school, (population 25 students!). We are planning to introduce the students to puppetry performance and to create a short puppet theatre piece based on some local folklore.

Recently artists in Newfoundland and Labrador undertook a letter writing and social media campaign to request that our government increase budgetary funds to ArtsNL, our professional arts granting body. Our government has now released their Cultural Action Plan as well as the new budget, and we were very pleased to see that ArtsNL will receive an increase of one million for grants to artists and organizations. We will go to the polls in a few weeks. We’re hoping that the budget will subsequently be passed, resulting in significant increase in ArtsNL’s budget (from 1.9 to 2.9 million for grants)…that would be good for NL puppetry!

I was surprised to discover that when the Minister of Culture, Christopher Mitchelmore, released the Cultural Action Plan last week, the above image was on the cover!

New Brunswick updates


Une performance hors normes par le théâtre l’Escaouette:  12 interprètes, des projections multimédia sur un gigantesque écran, un décor unique, des musiciens sur scène, des marionnettes contemporaines et un lieu pour un voyage temporel.Winslow offre un regard historique très moderne et percutant sur l’Histoire. Le colonel John Winslow, chargé de déporter les Acadiens de Grand-Pré, voyage dans le temps à la découverte des Acadiens d’aujourd’hui, pour des rencontres hautement improbables visant à faire table rase du passé. Le spectacle a eu lieu à Moncton du 5 au 14 avril à guichet fermé. Les marionnettes sont signées par Pierre Robitaille de Pupulus Mordicus. Pierre est maintenant à Moncton pour offrir un atelier donné par Satellite Théâtre le 5 mai. Pour plus d’info  :  Texte: Herménégilde Chaisson.

An out of the box experience by théâtre l’Escaouette : 12 performers, multimedia projections on a giant screen, a unique set design, musicians on stage, contemporary marionettes, live cameras shooting in a venue specially refitted for a time travel. Winslow offers a contemporary and impactful look at History. Colonel John Winslow, in charge of deporting the Acadians, travels through time to discover today’s Acadians in highly improbable encounters. Playwright: Herménégilde Chaisson.  (Sold out performances in Moncton, NB April 5 – 14, 2019)



Fredericton Puppeteer wins scholarship to ANIMOTION

In the spring of  2019, UNIMA Atlantic launched a new career initiative to emerging puppetry artists with creation of a scholarship for the Institute of Puppetry Arts professional training program known as ANIMOTION. Open to Canada-wide members of UNIMA, the inaugural recipient was Laura-Beth Bird of Fredericton NB, who made her way to Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia from April 25-May 3 to complete the three-week Intensive. She was introduced to six different forms of puppetry under the guidance of Jim Morrow and Sthumbnail_IMG_0488truan Robertson.

Laura-Beth began the challenging task of creating a hand puppet show in Fredericton last fall. Her new troupe, Grey Rabbit Theatre Company, plans to perform for young during the summer months across Atlantic Canada.  Laura credits the Animotion training for providing the building blocks needed to carve a career  in the puppetry world by enabling her to take the first steps in the creation of captivating work.

When asked about her journey to date,, Laura-Beth remarked that “it’s one thing to have an idea, and it’s another to bring it to life.” She recalls her first visit to Mermaid Theatre in December 2018 when she spent a week in residency at the Mermaid Loft with the goal of seeking advice about puppet construction. Her experience convinced her to return to begin the process of formal training in in a professional setting.


Photo: Logan Robins

Students from across North America convened in Windsor NS to learn the craft. Laura-Beth Bird was one of twelve theatre professionals who completed the 11th annual Institute training program. She expressed her thanks to Jim Morrow and the team of Mermaid for their continued mentorship, as well as to UNIMA Atlantic and UNIMA Canada for their support  and their dedication to the puppetry arts.

Nova Scotia update

News from Truro: Maritime Marionettes

Maritime Marionettes cabaretMaritime Marionettes, based in Truro, NS,  reports a full calendar of shows and workshops thoroughout Nova Scotia’s school system.  They’ve offered Introduction to Puppetry workshops as well as puppet construction sessions for approximately 1,250 individual classes during the past 5 years. Both students and their teachers have been highly inspired by the marionettes and are even more in tune with the art form when they’ve had the opportunity to see a performance after the workshop.

The company’s creators, Darryll and Heather Taylor, have been strongly focused  on staging and creating new ways of presenting. For many years they have brought their respected marionette theatre to the soft seat theatres, halls and gymnasiums. With the introduction of their new Cabaret stage (shown in photo) they can now perform at banquets, musical concerts and participate in variety shows.  A further initiative this summer will be the addition of outdoor performances, with the introduction of their new new gypsy wagon styled caravan theatre currently under construction.  Fall plans include an upcoming tour of several communities in as featured artists in Northern Ontario’s Children’s Series.

caravan image

News from Windsor: 

Mermaid’s Institute of Puppetry Arts attracts fans at home and abroad

With an inviting new storefront studio, a considerably expanded program of instruction and the appointment of a talented Education and Outreach Director, Mermaid’s Institute of Puppetry Arts is quickly earning recognition as a major Canadian initiative.

For many years, Mermaid’s Institute instructors have been warmly welcomed in worldwide locations, with workshop frequently offered in conjunction with Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia’s global touring.  Closer to home, the Institute’s broad array of programs directed to puppetry fans of all ages and levels of proficiency is attracting diverse participants. The ambitious roster of courses, unique in Canada, includes a revitalized YouTheatre for adolescents, sessions for Grown Ups (featuring libation and music), workshops for youngsters in both school and studio settings,  pre-and post-performance workshops following family audience programming at the Mermaid Imperial Performing Arts Center, and the highly respected professional-level intensive, ANIMOTION, which is now accepting registrations for 2020.

About Struan Robertson, Mermaid’s Education & Outreach Director

Struan graduated from Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, QC with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Fine Art.  At Bishop’s he studied puppetry under the direction of Tim Gosley, and further refined his skills as an ANIMOTION participant. He joined Mermaid as a touring artist in 2008, and performed with the company throughout Canada, the United States, Hong Kong, and Macau.

Puppets for Grown ups copyStruan became a full-time production employee in 2011 and has subsequently been responsible for assisting in production design, and creating transformative sets, props, and puppets. Simultaneously, his unique skills as a teacher have made him a much sought-after instructor whose imaginative workshops using found-objects have delighted hundreds of children (as well as their parents and teachers) in Nova Scotia and in China. Struan was promoted to his current position of Director of Education and Outreach for the Institute of Puppetry Arts in 2018, and looks forward to implementing new and creative programs for local, regional and international students of puppetry.

The Institute's director prepares fpr a busy dayJPG

Struan Roberston outside the Institute

Twelve Participants Complete Xl ANIMOTION Intensive


Animotor Alynne Sinnema

Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia launched the Institute of Puppetry Arts in 1998 with the aim of promoting and enhancing the art of puppetry both at home and abroad. Classes, workshops and demonstrations, both in-house and through outreach sessions, are tailored to the specific needs of family participants, teachers, recreation leaders, theatre professionals and industry.  The ANIMOTION Intensive was created to provide a platform where professional and pre-professional performers, and others, would explore the art of puppetry and related object movement techniques in a nurturing and challenging environment. Response to initiative has been tremendous with interest coming from all over North America.


Animotor Jonah Campbell

During the three-week intensive held from April 15-May 3, 2019, twelve participants are offered the opportunity to glean as much knowledge and technical skills as possible though a series of carefully designed exercises, independent and collaborative scene work, and the development of finished pieces using puppets designed and built by the participants themselves, who came from Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Fredericton, and Saginaw, Michigan

The Mermaid Loft, Spring 2019

In addition to her participation in the Institute’s Animotion program, Jenny Rogers of Saginaw, Michigan return to the Mermaid Loft  for several weeks in the spring of 2019 to continue work on her  her puppet theatre project, Sophie’s Gift. Pictured here are Jenny’s experiments with flourescent paints to assess their effect on her principal character puppet (Sophie) .


Jenny Rogers and Sophie


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