Banff Centre Puppet Intensive!

Pinnochio.... no, I did not make this one.


I will be attending the Puppet Theatre Intensive Workshop at the Banff Centre for the first couple weeks in January! The workshop will be run by Peter and Juanita from the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, based here in Calgary.

A colleague had pointed out the workshop to me, but by the time I had found out about it, it was full.  I applied for the waitlist anyway, and earlier this month found out that there would be a spot available for me, if I could get everything lined up.   I was lucky enough to receive funding from CADA (specifically the Artist Opportunity Grant) to be able to go.  What originally seemed like something resigned to the “it would have been nice” pile, the pieces happened to align properly, and I am able to go.  (I am also currently working as a temp, which means that it’s not a problem to be able to get time off when I need it – I would recommend that to other artists, if you think it might fit what you need.)

Puppet Hostages getting ready to go on a trip.
Puppet hostages getting ready to go on a trip.


Since becoming aware of the Banff Centre during my undergrad, I have wanted to go.  I have known a few other artists who have gone (such as Meagan Boisvert), and it always seems to be such a rich experience for them.  The centre offers themed residencies, as well as self directed residencies, and work studies, in different areas of visual arts as well as other disciplines, such as music, dance, theatre, literary arts, film, sound, photography, and even opera. This particular residency does not seem like the typical structure at the Banff Centre, although there are some similarities.  We will be living, eating and working together rather intensely it sounds like, exploring, building sets and puppets, scripting, directing and manipulating puppets, putting together something of a show.

I am not only excited for the project and experience in general, meeting new people, spending some time in such a wonderful place, and working on what I’m sure will be an interesting project, but also how it might affect my future work. I see definite ties with how this might relate to the IMR and the Morphoids, in animating them, giving them more of a sense of life. Actually, you could maybe say that I have used puppetry with them before- one of the most common methods I used in the documentary to make them move was to use fishing line to pull on their limbs.  Sorry to take the magic out of it (ha ha), but that’s exactly what I used here:  (I might be letting some secrets out here, but I also ran the video backwards, did some stop motion animation, and played with the speed to get the effects that I wanted.)

Pteropod from Jennifer Akkermans on Vimeo.

I’m sure the puppet workshop will also give me some new ways of looking at narrative and storytelling.  I am interested in the construction techniques as well, and think that that might also translate into some of the new work I’m playing with, using automata mechanisms.  (Have I told you much about that?  It might be too soon….)

As usual, I will be blogging about the experience to some degree, although I can’t say how much, because I’m sure we will be very busy!  Stay tuned!

For anyone interested and in the area, there will be a public presentation on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
 in the Margaret Greenham Theatre.  The event is free.

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