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Puppet festival showcases the life of animated objects

By Fernando Moreno, March 14 2017 —

The International Festival of Animated Objects will come to Calgary from March 16–19. The festival features shows consisting of puppetry and mask, as well as shows that utilize different puppet techniques to create live action theatre.

According to founder and co-artistic director Xstine Cook, the festival will reach a wide demographic.

“Most of the work in the festival is actually geared more towards adult audiences and it has [stop-motion] shows and films,” Cook says. “The interesting thing about puppetry is that it does span all demographics and age groups.“

Cook says her background and training in puppetry and theatre positively impacted her passion for puppets.

“I trained at [the] Dell’Arte School of Physical Theatre in Blue Lake, California and I was, at that time, a mask maker,” she says. “I wanted to learn how to perform with mask and so I have been making masks since high school.”

The festival is sponsored by the Calgary Animated Objects Society, a non-profit organization. Cook hopes the festival will spark inspiration in audiences.

“Our hopes and dreams are that we continue to grow and develop the art form as well as [develop] an audience for the art form. There are very strong puppet and mask traditions in Calgary,” she says. “I think puppetry and masks really speak to an ancestral-like, primordial understanding about storytelling where all cultures have some form of mask. At some point in their history.”

Now entering its eighth year, the festival will feature several distinguishing attractions. Workshops including “Creating Newspaper Marionettes” and “Puppets Build Bridges with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community” will allow audience members to interact with hands-on puppet creating.

Shows like Loon — a love story between a man and the moon — will likely be popular among festival attendees this year.

“This year’s festival is different in that the festival is growing up and going out on its own,” Cook says. “People who are attending should expect to see some very innovative and interesting work from Calgary as well as from across the country and to really experience puppetry in a way that they maybe weren’t expecting.”

The International Festival of Animated Objects will run from March 16–19 at various locations around the city. The festival also offers free shows throughout its run for new attendees interested in puppetry. More information and schedule can be found on their website. Tickets are available online.

For more information, visit puppetfestival.ca

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