Pageantry of puppetry on display at Festival of Animated Objects

Pageantry of puppetry on display at Festival of Animated Objects

Cookie Monster, Rusty the Rooster, Finnegan — many of us have fond memories of a favourite puppet from childhood. But puppet shows aren't just for kids anymore.

Beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday, Calgarians can see puppet shows of all kinds at the Festival of Animated Objects, going at several venues across the city, including:

- Arts Commons.

- DJD Dance Centre.

- Royal Canadian Legion #1.

- Leighton Arts Centre.

- Warehouse 534.

- City hall lobby.

The festival kicks off Thursday evening with a showing of The Unlikely Birth of Istvan, lead by co-artistic director Peter Balkwill.

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"What's really fun is to do the adult kind of stuff for the kids," he told The Calgary Eyeopener.

"You take out the dirty words… but the level of sophistication that puppetry brings to theatre and performance is incredible. It's representative and it allows the audience to engage in their own journey, and children are really good at that. We can present themes and situations that in some cases you might think are inappropriate or scary, but they allow all audience members to investigate their own relationship with these moments."

Electronic devices may be much more prolific today than in years past, but that doesn't take away from imagination, says festival creator and co-artistic director Xstine Cook, herself a mask maker.

"I don't know if kids lose their imaginations," she said.

"As part of the festival I did a huge project with Sunalta School where the kids made masks of their own identities, and the creativity and the imagination that's unleashed in that kind of venue is unbelievable. They never say 'oh, I can't do it,' or 'I'm not creative,' a kid will never say that. So I don't think the digital age is ruining puppetry, I think in some ways it's enhancing it."

A complete list of showtimes can be found on the festival website.

With files from The Calgary Eyeopener