Puppets for Peace // Canuck Fest 2014.

Find below an article that will appear in the next Puppeteers of America Journal regarding our September 2014 Puppets for Peace Celebration:

The 2014 P. of A. Pacific Northwest Regional Festival: Puppets for Peace Celebration

Victoria, B.C., CANADA  September 19 to 21, 2014

After a long and winding road our Pacific Northwest Regional proved to be a resounding success. Starting as the P. of “Eh” Canuck Fest aimed at the P. of A. membership, it morphed into a Victoria community event renamed the Puppets for Peace Celebration – our final day fell on September 21, the United Nations International Day of Peace.

Our weekend comprised of approximately twenty performances, workshops and events at six venues with the final day culminating in a parade of approximately 700 participants. Our puppeteers included Old Trout Puppet Workshop (Calgary, Ab), Puente Theatre (Victoria, B.C.), Runaway Moon Theatre (Enderby, B.C.), Mind of a Snail (Vancouver, B.C.), Lost & Found Puppets (Vancouver, B.C.) Mochinosha/ The Wishes Mystical Puppet Co. (Japan & Winnigpeg), Sutrisno Hartana (Javanese dalang), Le La La (First Nations Dance Company), puppeteers from the Pacific Northwest for our Puppet Poet Slam, Tim Gosley, Theatre Inconnu (Victoria), Viktor Barkar, Ray Turner, Kasperle Theater, The Puppet Booth, The Mesmerizing Mermaid, Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams Film Festival, and special guests Karen Prell (Red Fraggle – Seattle) and Judith Lawrence (Casey & Finnegan from Mr. DressUp – iconic Canadian puppets.)

Our non performance events included a P of A and Unima West meeting, a paper folding workshop by WP Puppets (Calgary), storytelling with puppets by Sue Proctor, (Winnipeg), a Chinese Shadow display and book talk & signing on “Shadow Woman: the extraordinary career of Pauline Benton” by Grant Hayter-Menzies (Sidney, B.C.), a toy theatre display at The Emily Carr House, and more.

Six weeks prior to the festival we established Puppet Central in a storefront at The Bay Center, a high-end mall. This included an impress display of puppets, tiny to giant. Here we offered workshops, demos and performances prior to the festival. Some of the giant puppets made here appeared in our final parade.

The theme of peace developed a growing importance in our planning. We partnered with The Pacific People’s Partnership for a panel discussion on Puppets, Performance and Social Change. And on UN Peace Day we had speeches by a First Nation’s Leader, Victoria’s mayor, the Department of Peace Initiative, and our Lieutenant Governor, along with a peace pole ceremony. The day began at the heritage Craigdarroch Castle where there were puppet activities inside and out. It was a lovely sunny day. Parade registrants gathered on the lawns in front of the castle. The parade itself was a joyous peace-walk of approximately 600 to 800 people. As it passed the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, a mural painted by Quebec muralist & puppeteer Danaé Brissonet for this event, became animated (a living mural). The procession proceeded to Government House ending in its beautiful gardens. There were performances and talks in its band-shell with workshops and mini performances around the surrounding grounds.

The reason we shifted our principal focus for the festival from towards the P of A membership to a community event concerned our very small and inexperienced organizational team. It was impossible for us to get our program together in time to give P of A members enough lead-time to choose to attend. This made it impossible to draft an accurate budget. So we partnered with The Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria, who helped apply for funding and got us the Puppet Central storefront. We received support from Government House for much of the cost for the Sept. 21 Peace Day expenses along with funding from The City of Victoria and other local groups. We funded the festival without dependence on the P of A which allowed us to not charge a registration fee other then individual performance admissions, a total of $60 cnd). Many of the events were free. Dawn Schell, the Victoria Guild President, took charge of arranging accommodation and helped orientate the membership.

The over all P of A attendance was not huge, but delightfully enthusiastic. The over all attendance was better then forecasted and we hit our financial targets.

Puppets for Peace is currently applying to become an annual event here in Victoria. Over the process we developed a larger more experienced team. We look forward to exploring how puppets can indeed do their share towards world peace, as well as bring the magical world of puppets to our regions attention.


Tim Gosley: Festival Director – timgosley@telus.net

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