Mermaid Theatre: Puppets Seek Masters
The puppeteer breathes life into characters carved in wood, foam or plaster, giving body and voice to the imagination. And a mastery of puppetry is not necessarily a given for actors or dancers, even though they are stage professionals.
For decades, the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia (Windsor) has initiated performers into the subtleties of the art. Its Institute of Puppetry Arts is the only English-language organization in Canada to provide workshops and residencies in the discipline, with specialized training that can lead to unique opportunities for employment.
“Mermaid's performers generally acquire puppetry techniques only within the context of play development, as there are virtually no opportunities in Canada to learn these skills. Many feel an affinity for the medium and an excitement about their newly-acquired expertise. However they frequently lament the absence of a forum - and a facility - dedicated specifically to the exploration of advanced puppetry, in a less structured, purely experimental environment.”
This situation has led the Mermaid to create the Mermaid Theatre Loft. The project will bring together professional puppeteers and performing artists to create experimental plays. Created with support from the Canada Council, the Loft initiative will be directed by the Mermaid's artistic director, Jim Morrow.
The Loft's inaugural project in spring 2008 featured Brian Fidler, a Yukon artist with an unusual approach to puppetry. The Adventures of CAM and LEGS is a show in a suitcase that combines puppets and video.
Creations will not necessarily be geared to young audiences. As they are smaller than traditional plays and call for a single artist, they are portable and can be presented in small theatres and regional communities, opening another possibility for the theatre's touring component.