WP Puppet Theatre Society has been Animating the Spirit since 1991. Our biennial puppet conferences, the first of which was in 2001, have included the following themes: "Puppets as a Therapeutic Medium", "Embracing Multiculturalism", "Puppets Promote Literacy" and "Puppets as Agents of Social Change". Puppet Power conferences have attracted participants from all areas of the helping professions, as well as educators, artists, activists and students.
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Figure 1: Giant Puppet
Photo by Jenn Sieppert
Figure 3: Manipulation for TV
It was a weekend of inspiring speakers, conversations, creations and more. Of…
- Exploration – How do you contort yourself to keep the puppet in the camera frame?
- Emotion – Fiona from the Schizophrenia Society describing the angst of mental health issues.
- Satisfaction – Watching the Giant puppet process through the lobby of the Coast Plaza Hotel.
- Curiousity – What is a Nudibranch?
- Discovery – It was an Alka-Seltzer ad that seeded the Sesame Street methodology!
- Galvanizing – As Mayor Naheed Nenshi challenges us to do a 4th thing for Calgary and create a legacy for the Puppet Power 2013 conference.
Figure 2: Karin Millson's
fibre art creature
The best summation is from our keynote Martin Robinson –
“If you can make a difference in the world – how can you not do it?”
Close to 100 people attended the weekend as registrants, speakers, guests or volunteers. We were honoured to have Ms. Alan Delong, MLA for Calgary Bow bring greetings from the province, Susan Kristoferson represented the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Mayor Nenshi posed with Telly Monster and provided supportive and encouraging words for all the participants.
Puppet Power 2013 (PP13) included a couple of new program initiatives. One was our “Puppet Portfolio” a PechaKucha style session, a style of presentation where speakers talk with 20 images, each for 20 seconds. This was well received, though we have learned some tricks for the next time.
The Rapid Idea Generation Session was another pilot initiative, with three selected NGO’s. A panel of professional puppeteers and theatre practitioners modeled the process of creating a puppet project to support their community mandates. The conference was the first step, and further meetings will take place to continue the commitment and partnerships required to bring meaningful projects to theses communities.
Figure 4: The Mayor and Telly
Photo by Andrea Halwas
The responses from participants through our online survey, remarked on the power of puppets in psychological issues, the depth of commitment, raw talent, and the extent of activity of puppets in the community already. Respondents were surprised at how puppets could engage adults too, and how working collaboratively could be so powerful. They noted the effectiveness of even the simplest puppet for communication.
Eighty – seven percent of registrants felt the overall conference met or exceeded their expectations. Seventy – one percent attended PP13 in a professional capacity.
When asked about using their Puppet Power experience going forward they wrote of integrating their learning into the classroom or the library, of seeking collaborations with other registrants and of being more creative.
One person wrote they had been inspired to move fearlessly in the direction they believed in.
Our national and international speakers said, “Terrific experience, I’d love to do it again” and “We’d love to stay in touch and collaborate in the future”. Another said, “May all your Dreams be huge!”
Feedback from our volunteers included: “I was privileged to work with one of the best, most efficient committees I've ever served on.”
A feedback report from one of our bursary recipients can be seen here.
Puppet Power 2013 was well supported by Calgary media. In addition to the sixteen advertising spots that were purchased and the contributions from our two media sponsors – SHINE 88.9 FM and CKUA, our coverage included:
- Calgary Sun, Community Connections, Jan 11, 18, 25, Feb 1, 8, 15, 22, Mar 1, and 8th
- Fast Forward online, Editor’s Picks, Jan 24-31
- CKUA Radio, March 5 http://www.ckua.com/03/05/13/Snuffleupagus-is-the-Fearless-Face-of-Pu/landing.html?blockID=670693&feedID=7643
- Global Calgary, Gil Tucker, 6 PM and 11 PM newscasts, March 8 (link no longer available due to website revamp)
- Calgary Herald, Entertainment, March 6 online and March 7 print edition http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Sesame+Street+puppeteer+finds+universal+themes+global/8059771/story.html
- City TV, Breakfast Television, March http://video.citytv.com/video/detail/2212486750001.000000/puppets-without-borders--mar-8th
- CBC Radio, Homestretch program, March 8 http://www.cbc.ca/homestretch/episode/2013/03/08/puppet-power-conference
- QR77 Radio, Calgary Today, March 8
- CTV Calgary, 6 PM and 11 PM newscasts, March 9
- City TV, morning newscast between 6 and 9 AM, March 11
- Mike’s Bloggity Blog, March 19 http://mikesbloggityblog.com/my-afternoon-with-sesame-streets-telly
To volunteers and staff who all contributed somewhere along the 3-year planning of this event and to the presenters who shared their passion and talents:
Keister Family Fiddlers
Florence, Tom and Tam
Hand Made Puppet Dreams
Figure 5: Registration Table (AH)
All those who sent in proposals
All those ‘liked’, ‘tweeted’ ‘pinned’ ‘shared’ and ‘talked’
All those who worked our casino – the proceeds supported PP13
Coast Plaza Hotel staff
And thank you to our wonderful funding supporters:
Trotter & Morton
NOtaBLE the Restaurant
Shawna Ogston Communications and Media Relations
Elegant Edge Website Design
SHINE 88.9 FM
Alberta Foundation for the Arts
Calgary Arts Development and The City of Calgary
Community Initiatives Program and Alberta Lottery Fund, Alberta Government
Figure 6: Puppet and Registrant Connect (JS)