Magnetic North Theatre Festival 2007 in Ottawa Presents
Famous Puppet Death Scenes by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop, Calgary Alberta
Created and Conceived by The Old Trout Puppet Workshop & Friends: Peter Balkwill, Don Brinsmead, Mitchell Craib, Pityu Kendres, Bobby Hall, Judd Palmer, Stephen Pearce, and Tim Sutherland
Directed by Tim Sutherland
Technical Direction: Bobby Hall
Costumes: Jen Gareau and Sarah Malik
Lighting Design and Production Stage management: Cimmeron Meyer
Sound Design: Mike Rinaldi
Producer: Grant Burns
Trout Administrator: Norma Lock
Additional Production: Mercedes Batiz-Benet, Marilyn Palmer, Dawn Bryan, Jimmy Davidge & Don Brinsmead
Running Time: 85 minutes, no Intermission
Production viewed: June 10, 3 pm Academic hall, University of Ottawa.
My acquaintance with Puppetry is very limited: I have worked hand puppets for my kids, I have watched some puppetry, mainly on TV, and I studied mask making and performing almost forty years ago. But I think that many of the principles of entertaining and moving an audience are the same whether the cast is live and manipulated by a director, or artiface, and articulated by puppeteers.
The title and the publicity colour stills really intrigued me. I thought this has to be a terrific show, and well worth traveling an hour and a half each way for the anticipated sixty-five minutes of the production. Generally speaking, it was worthwhile.
Most of the sketches were funny ironic humour, with clever puppets of various kinds, ingeniously used in combination with music and voices. Occasionally, we saw the puppeteers, as the style demanded. The sets were sometimes quite elaborate.
If I have one negative comment it is that occasionally, the sketch was a serious look at the subject, and here, the pace slowed so significantly that the show apparently ran twenty minutes long. I have been complaining this year about how short most of the performances were; yet in this case, I have to say that this show was certainly twenty minutes too long. I think that if most of the significant pauses had been omitted or significantly shortened, the show would have had more impact. As it was, some of the serious sketches just didn’t come off.
I am glad I saw it, as it was, for the most part, clever and entertaining. It just should not take itself too seriously, because one has to identify with a character to feel pathos, and it is not easy to establish identification with a puppet in the midst of puppet comedy.