International Festival of Animated Objects, Mar 9 to 17

Have you known someone whose birthday falls on February 29? If so, you may have noticed how super-exciting their birthday is when it actually rolls around once every four years. It could be for a very similar reason that I get a little giggity when Calgary’s International Festival of Animated Objects returns, since only happens on odd-numbered years.

If you’re just hearing about this for the first time here, I should warn you that I’m late on the draw and this, one of my favourite Calgary festivals, is already partly behind us. It began last weekend, though most performances continue through next weekend. (Though my favourite show every year, the Dolly Wiggler Cabaret, is as-yet upcoming!)

From film, to lecture, to workshop, and many great shows, this festival highlights all that is wonderful about puppetry. Rest assured, this ain’t no Muppet Show (not to say anything disparaging about that awesome show). While there are performances aimed towards families, many are for 14+ only.

Check out some of the offerings:

ifao-potato_needs_a_bath_shona_reppePotato Needs A Bath

Onion is practicing his guitar, Aubergine is wearing her new necklace and Peach is bouncing on the bed with excitement, but don’t wake the sleeping baby carrots.  Potato needs a bath – but he has other ideas (because Potato loves mud!).

As fruits and vegetables come to life in exquisitely rendered detail, young ones will be captivated by an intricately crafted miniature world on stage.  A gifted performer in her own right, Reppe engages imagination and creativity by creating a fully invested world where loveable edibles reveal private lives and detailed personalities. Sly puns and meticulous production values will be appreciated by adults in this light-hearted, visual show for 3 – 5 year olds.

Co-created with Andy Manley with original music by Dave Trouton.

Online listing

Duration: 35 min
Recommended Age: 3- 5 yrs + families
Price: $15 / $10


White Like Me: A Honky Dory Puppet Show

A satirical exploration of the archetypal Caucasian, White Like Me tells the tale of White-Man from the planet Caucazoid, who travels through space to enjoy many adventures on Earth; spreading his ‘civilizing’ across the United States and becoming the philanthropist Santa Claus. After joining the Tea Party, White-Man comes to the startling realization that, by 2042, he will be the minority in the U.S.  What will White-Man do?

Zaloom employs the drawing room medium of toy theatre with his gigantic collection of knick-knacks, brica-a-brac, tiny toys, and other weird junk, plus his creepy Ventriloquist dummy sidekick, Butch Manly.  White Like Me uses hi-def video projections so that the audience can clearly experience the tiny puppet mayhem. Created by Paul Zaloom, directed by Randee Trabitz, designed, rigged and co-written by Lynn Jeffries. (Butch Manly travels in the passenger section of the airplane, by the way).

Online listing

Duration: 65 min
Recommended Age: 14 +
Price: $30 / $25


UBU on the Table

Two armies of French baguettes face each other in a stand-off. Tomato bombs explode, an eggbeater hovers over fleeing troops and molasses-blood splatters on fork-soldiers charging Père Ubu. A small-scale fresco of grandiose buffoonery plays out in the hands of two skilled performers, with multiple film references to spice things up.

Based on Alfred Jarry’s infamous Ubu Roi, a work that inspired a riot and the theatre of the absurd, UBU on the Table is a frenetic retelling of antihero King ifao-dolly_wiggler_cabaret_philip_huberUbu, a vulgar and infantile man who inhabits a cowardly and cruel world.  The ribald pace of the story is enhanced by the puppeteers, who, standing in full view, provide the expressions of agony and rage that the common object actors are unable to convey.

Online listing

Duration: 60 min
Recommended Age: 14 +
Price: $30 / $25


Dolly Wiggler Cabaret starring Phillip Huber

Book your tickets early. Fresh from touring the world with Cirque Du Soleil and La Soirée, grand compére Mooky Cornish returns to Calgary with her side-splitting physical comedy, playing hostess to stunning and hilarious work from  Ingrid Hansen, Paul Zaloom, Théâtre de la Pire Espèce and local star Jamie Tea. Headliner Phillip Huber takes the stage with his jaw-dropping Suspended Animation marionettes to close the evening.

Online listing

Duration: 90 min
Recommended Age: 14 +
Price: $55 / $45

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