Puppet show offering education


Calgary puppeteers hope to heighten the imaginations of children and adults alike with humourous stories, historical anecdotes and fascinating songs this week.

WP Puppet Theatre is presenting its 45-minute production Pigs in a Canoe and Other Watery Stories using a variety of colourful handheld puppets to explore humankind’s intricate relationship with water at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre Nov. 26 and 27 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 28 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“It’s looking at water from a whole bunch of different places, both fact and fiction, as well as the history,” said Wendy Passmore-Godfrey, who created the stories and puppets. “It’s something I’m passionate about.”

Among the stories told is an Australian folk tale about a frog that swallowed all the water in the world and a tale based on historical facts about pigs being transported down the Red River in Winnipeg in the early 1800s.

Passmore-Godfrey hopes the stories will have the audience looking at water in a different light.

“Anybody who is a bit older might start to think about how water is almost more of a commodity than oil and it’s the next resource that we’ll start to buy and sell and exploit and trade,” she said. “There’s a political side to that in keeping with the idea that we’re celebrating water.”

Pigs in a Canoe and Other Watery Stories creates a fun way of combining play with education, said Passmore-Godfrey.

“It’s got all the power of play and imagination that we want to celebrate in our children and in our adults who put that adulthood aside and sit back and enjoy something,” she said. “There is music and storytelling and art. There is movement in all of that.”

The role of the puppeteer is to bring inanimate objects to life in a collective imagining, said Passmore-Godfrey, adding most of the puppets are made from recycled materials.

“The performer is part of the show, both the storyteller and the puppet wrangler and facilitator for audience participation,” she said. “It’s a wonderful chance to strengthen your imagination muscle and to have fun and maybe come out of it energized and a little bit more informed and invigorated about water.”

Former Okotokian Sandra Neill, WP Puppet Theatre’s marketing and communications manager, said she connected with the Town’s culture and heritage manager Allan Boss about bringing the show here.

“We don’t often do it as a public performance,” she said, explaining most of their shows are in elementary schools. “There’s a lot of kids in Okotoks and we thought it would be a good fit.”

Neill said Pigs in a Canoe and Other Watery Stories will also be performed in English and French at Percy Pegler School in January.

“There’s educational components to it,” she said. “It links to the science and social science curriculum. For example, one of the stories is about a water droplet’s cycle through liquid, solid and vapour as well as going inside of a cow, freezer and sewer.”

One hour prior to the Nov. 28 performances, WP Puppets is offering free finger puppets workshops.

Tickets to see Pigs in a Canoe and Other Watery Stories cost $15 for adults and $10 for children and can be purchased at okotoksculture.ca, the Okotoks Art Gallery or by calling 403-938-3204.

For more information go to wppuppet.com.


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