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Puppetmongers Theatre is Puppeteering In A Pandemic

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Co-Artistic Directors Ann and David Powell have been able to slowly but surely pivot to virtual teaching, mentoring and puppeteering.

Ann Powell and David Powell, Co-Artistic Directors of Puppetmongers Theatre since 1974, showcase continued resilience in the face of shutdowns, burglaries and more, thanks to a $13,900 Capital grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in 2019, and to the ongoing generosity of their supporters.

"I am very pleased that the OTF has supported Puppetmongers Theatre's efforts to enrich the lives of youth through live productions and recorded tutorials," said Peter Tabuns, MPP for Toronto-Danforth. "The Powell's efforts to ensure puppeteering endures as an important art form, long into the future, deserves strong recognition in the uncharted waters of the pandemic."

Now in their late 60's, the sibling duo of Ann and David Powell have been able to slowly but surely pivot to virtual teaching, mentoring and puppeteering. Thanks to OTF's grant, Ann and David were able to upgrade the Puppetmongers computer system, as well as secure new AV and other studio equipment and tools that have been making "distance puppetry" possible. The grant has also helped the company stock up on equipment for future puppetry workshops when it's safe to gather again.

In Spring 2020, Puppetmongers released a handful of tutorial videos for children on a variety of puppet-making ideas for families, which are still available at puppetmongers.com. These videos have spread further, being shared by art teachers, theatre companies and children's arts camps. The Powells were also able to adapt their shadow puppetry workshops to be presented to high schools online.

Ann and David were eager to put their new technological skills to good use in creating more how-to puppet-making videos - when the Puppetmongers studio was broken into last Fall, and the video camera and digital projector stolen. They look forward to making more videos now that this equipment has been replaced thanks to the support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

Coming up this Spring, Puppetmongers is proud to present virtual presentations of two classic shows from its repertoire. Brick. Bros Circus, a tongue in cheek miniature one-ring circus featuring highly trained building bricks in feats of mind-bending object puppetry, will be available to stream March 10-24, 2021. The Miller and His Wife, Puppetmongers' first-ever show from 1974 followed by its 1976 sequel, beautifully filmed in 2014, will run April 14-28, 2021. Tickets for these family-friendly shows are available by Pay-What-You-Can donation; all donations of $100 and up will include access to both presentations.

As the company nears its 50th anniversary, Puppetmongers Theatre is thinking about what its legacy is to be when it finally decides to stop. Rather than passing on the company and shows, Ann and David Are exploring the idea of establishing a Puppetry Space for the use of the puppetry community, in which to develop, create, rehearse, research, network and meet, and for School of Puppetry programs to continue. In exploring this Legacy Project, they are part way through an Arts Build Ontario's Creative Spaces Mentoring Program, with dancer/choreographer Yvonne Ng as their chosen mentor. To connect with Ann Powell and David Powell, please contact info@puppetmongers.com


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