DAISY THEATRE - Created and Performed by Ronnie Burkett, opens February 20

DAISY THEATRE - Created and Performed by Ronnie Burkett, opens February 20

Puppets galore descend upon Centaur Theatre as world renowned puppeteer provocateur, Ronnie Burkett, makes his Centaur debut with over 40 hand-crafted marionettes for the Quebec premiere of The Daisy Theatre, playing February 20 to March 24, 2018. Montreal's Festival de Casteliers will include The Daisy Theatre as part of its programming along with a post-show talkback following the March 8th performance.

This is the 13th production from Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes, following the international successes of Penny Plain, Billy Twinkle, 10 Days on Earth, Provenance and the "Memory Dress Trilogy" of Tinka's New Dress, Street of Blood, and Happy. Ronnie Burkett first performed in Montreal at the Festival du Théâtre des Amériques with his production, Tinka's New Dress and has returned with three subsequent sold-out productions.

The Daisy Theatre is internationally acclaimed puppeteer Ronnie Burkett unleashed...unscripted, by the seat of his pants, manipulating and voicing his characters through variety acts, impromptu monologues, musical numbers and audience participation, featuring a cast of 40 marionette characters. Audiences and critics alike fall in love with the ridiculous, tender, outrageous antics of Daisy Theatre characters Esme Massengill, Mrs. Edna Rural and beloved fairy child Schnitzel. Variety numbers parody theatrical genres from opera, music hall, Las Vegas, French cabaret and vaudeville with characters including lounge singer Rosemary Focaccia, marionette ventriloquist Meyer Lemon, chanteuse Jolie Jolie, and "Canada's oldest and worst actress" Miss Lillian Lunkhead". With the ever-changing content and nightly improv, each performance is different, daring and on the edge.

The Daisy Theatre pays homage to the underground puppet shows that Czechoslovakian puppeteers such as the great Josef Skupa were doing during the Nazi occupation. The shows were called 'daisies' because folklore at the time believed that a daisy can thrive in the dark. Mr. Burkett "loves the idea that no matter what is happening socially or politically that feels bleak and dark, this simple yet resilient flower can push its way through a crack in the concrete and live. Josef and all those who spoke out through their puppets are all backstage with me when I do a show."

While randomly flipping through the newly bought World Book Encyclopaedias one day at the age of 7, Ronnie Burkett happened upon the page about puppets. Having seen the musical number featuring Bil Baird's unforgettable goatherd puppets in The Sound of Music, his future became clear. By the time he was 14, his father was driving him to TV gigs as well as school, shopping mall, community centre, and nightclub appearances, and he's been on the road ever since. In 1986 Ronnie formed the Theatre of Marionettes, playing to critical and public acclaim on most of Canada's major stages and abroad, generating an unprecedented following for adult puppet theatre and breaking box office records in several Canadian venues.

Recognized as one of Canada's foremost theatre artists, Ronnie Burkett has been credited with creating some of the world's most elaborate puppetry. He designs and constructs all of his marionettes in a combination of hand-moulded papier maché pulp and hand-carved wood. Defining characteristics of each puppet, such as eye glasses, wrist watches, hats, and shoes, are fastidiously crafted with intricate detail. Though he works on several puppets concurrently, Mr. Burkett approximates that each one takes six weeks to make and an entire show roughly one year to mount, from concept to opening night.

Burkett's efforts have garnered virtually every significant theatre award in cities across Canada and throughout the world, including an Emmy Award, the Siminovitch Prize, an Obie Award Citation for his Off-Broadway production of Tinka's New Dress, (which toured internationally for eight years), The Herbert Whittaker Drama Bench Award, and multiple Stirling, Chalmers, Betty Mitchell and Dora Mavor Moore awards for various productions.

In 2015, Mr. Burkett was given a Lieutenant Governor's Arts Award from the province of Alberta (he grew up in Medicine Hat). In a video created for the event, which highlights his numerous contributions to theatre, Casey Prescott, Banff Centre's Director of Producing said, "I can't point to another artist in this country that tells stories the way he [Burkett] tells them, develops characters the way he develops them, balances the darkness and the light within the worlds he creates. It's unique. I'm sure 100 years from now people are going to look back and say, 'Remember Ronnie. This was such a profound artist who made such a profound impact.'"

Considering the 40-strong 'cast' on stage, the team behind The Daisy Theatreis small but tight. Dora winner and one of Canada's premiere Jazz vocalists, John Alcorn, wrote the music and lyrics and designed the sound. The Stage Manager is Crystal Salverda, a theatre veteran with over three decades of experience who, in addition to working with Ronnie on several projects, has collaborated with Rick Miller's Kidoons Network, Necessary Angel, Canadian Stage, Marquis Entertainment and more.

Sunday Chat-up: Sunday February 25th at 12:30pm. A popular initiative that never fails to enrich the theatre going experience, presented in collaboration with the Montreal Gazette. Audiences are invited to join Editor in Chief, Lucinda Chodan, in a riveting discussion with designer, director and puppeteer Clea Minaker, who received the Siminovitch Protégé Prize for Theatre Design in 2009, from prize laureate Ronnie Burkett. Notable collaborations include: Feist's The Reminder Tour, Nufonia Must Fall by Kid Koala, and shadow design for Atom Egoyan's Salomé at the Canadian Opera Company.

The Chat-up is held in the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery and is open to the general public. Admission to these engaging activities is FREE. Refreshments will be served, compliments of Bonaparte Restaurant.

Talk Backs: Following the evening performance on Thursday March 8th, and the matinée presentation on Sunday March 11th, audiences are invited to stay after the show to learn more about Ronnie Burkett and the unique imagination that has created a complete world inhabited by his colourful characters.

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