Tag Archives: animotion

Interview with Jim Morrow – part 2

Happy new year!

Last October, we posted a portion of an (email) interview with our Artistic Director, Jim Morrow.  That portion of the interview is available here.  The remainder of his questions and answers are printed below.

Q: What type of puppets do you use in your performances? Who creates them?
A:
We are not a puppet company in the classic sense but a company that incorporates objects to tell stories. The objects that are more fully realized (with eyes, mouths, hands and feet, for example) we call our puppets. We have used traditional styles (hand, rod, marionettes or stringed, body, mouth or Muppet, and shadow) in past shows but design decisions are almost always based more on the unique challenges associated with adapting well known storybook characters into fully realized objects rather than on a particular puppet tradition. Essentially we first carve objects, or sculptures, and then learn how to move them through space by experimenting. Some of these sculptures have rods or strings incorporated and, as such, are considered traditional puppet styles but there can exist in any given play, many styles of puppets that are both traditional and new. There are no books we can refer to discover how to move these objects. We simply have to study and learn through experimenting and trial and error.

 

Q: Who composes the music you incorporate into your performances?
A: Music is a fundamental component of each Mermaid show and is a primary consideration from the early stages of development to completion. Music not only provides the requisite beat and rhythm that compliment the action but also adds a layer of emotional texturing that underscores each moment throughout the play. Steven Naylor is our principal sound designer and composer and we have been very fortunate to include his considerable skill and knowledge in our creative process for a very long time.

Q: Can you tell us more about the Institute of Puppetry Arts?
A:
Mermaid’s Institute of Puppetry Arts was created to provide training opportunities for anyone with an interest in learning the art of object movement and puppetry. Since the company’s inception forty-four years ago, puppetry has maintained a fundamental role in the development of each new play, and it has been integral in securing Mermaid’s unique place in the ecology of theatre for young audiences in North America and beyond.

Workshops: Through a variety of workshops, carefully crafted to serve the needs of both the general public and a theatre community increasingly curious about puppet construction and manipulation techniques, and with experts who are well versed in all aspects of puppet instruction, we annually reach hundreds of children and adults alike, both here at home and abroad. Puppetry instruction is also evolving in theatre programs offered by institutes and universities, where there is a growing curiosity about the medium and its application to core training.

Animotion: Our professional training session, called Animotion, is now recognized as one of the premier puppet instruction destinations in North America. The three-week long Intensive takes place each spring at our headquarters in Windsor and brings together ten participants from around the continent, most with limited knowledge of, or experience in, puppetry and object theatre. Each session is guided by a series of exercises designed to gently ease the participants from the early stages of learning the rudiments of manipulation, to fully realized moments complete with home made puppets and music.

Play Creation: The Institute of Puppetry Arts also boasts a play-creation component, with an emphasis on one-hour curriculum-based theatre pieces designed specifically for presentation in school auditoria. Developed collaboratively with specialists in the field of conservation biology and teachers of science, to date we have created two interactive productions that deal with issues relating to underwater marine biology (Sunken Treasures), and species at risk (Code Green).

 

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Mermaid’s CODE GREEN Returns for New Tour

The Mermaid Institute of Puppetry Arts popular curriculum-based production, Code Green: enhancing awareness of species at risk will soon return to Nova Scotia’s elementary schools with an updated edition. The company will present thirty-four performances in Kings, Hants and Pictou Counties as well as the HRM from November 13 through December 5, 2014.

Following the model of earlier presentations with the same name, the production is an interactive theatre piece intended to explore the impact of insensitive human activity on the natural environment. Created through extensive consultation with wildlife specialists, the play introduces students to several threatened species, including the little brown bat, the piping plover, the right whale, the woodland caribou, and the Blanding’s turtle.

Four spirited puppeteers share the stage, imparting solid information through the imaginative incorporation of video footage, interpretive comments, a lyrical soundscape and innovative puppetry. The creative team for Code Green includes co-directors Jim Morrow and Struan Robertson, co-designers Jim Morrow, Deborah MacLean and Struan Robertson, composer Paul Cram and puppeteer/performers Hilary Adams, Ryanne Chisholm, Rachel Hastings, and Genevieve Jones. The production will tour with generous support from Arts Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Educational Facilities Society, and the Nova Scotia Habitat Conservation Fund.

A free public performance will be offered at the Windsor Community Centre on Sunday, November 23 at 11:00am.  For more information, please visit http://mermaidtheatre.ca/code-green .

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News from Mermaid: Stella, Caterpillar, MIPAC, and More!

Hello friends of Mermaid Theatre!

We’ve been very busy for the last few months, and we’ve still got lots to do.  Here’s an update of the latest events from here in our facility in Windsor.

* Our biggest job is to finish building the puppets and set pieces for our newest production, Stella Queen of the Snow.  The production team is going full throttle to get everything ready.  We have people sewing, painting, carving, building, composing, and preparing for the premiere next month and subsequent fall tour.  Things are really starting to come together.  Rehearsals begin this month, and we’re presenting the world premiere of the show at the Magnetic North / STAGES Theatre Festival, taking place together in Halifax in June, with a US/Canadian tour to follow in the fall.  We’ll post the schedule in the coming weeks.

* Our Swimmy, Frederick, & Inch by Inch company returned from tour a couple of weeks ago after a successful tour with nearly 60 shows in 14 states.  Welcome home, folks!

"Caterpillar" in Korea, 2014

“Caterpillar” in Korea, 2014

* We still have two companies on the road touring The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Other Eric Carle Favourites.  One company is currently in their final venue for a multi-week run at the Chicago Children’s Theatre.  The other company has completed over 150 shows and is currently finishing their tour with a four-week visit to South Korea and had a great response from our first-ever audiences in the Kingdom of Bahrain for their Spring of Culture Festival in March.  We’ll also be touring Caterpillar again in the fall, with over 200 shows in 25 states and 3 provinces.  We’ll post that schedule in the coming weeks as well.

* Since September 1, 2013, the three touring companies have performed over 385 shows for a combined audience of over 225,000 people!  Keep up the good work and safe travels to the “Caterpillar” companies!

* We’re currently welcoming nine aspiring puppeteers to Mermaid’s annual ANIMOTION Puppetry Intensive.  They’ve come from several provinces to study with us, and Jim and Struan are keeping them very busy.

Animotion participants, having mastered the art of juggling, await further instruction.

Animotion participants, having mastered the art of juggling, await further instruction.

* At MIPAC, our local theatre, we’re hosting the final two shows of our 2013-14 Entertainment Series.  SQUID Precision Drummers with Cassie & Maggie MacDonald are playing this Saturday, May 3, at 2pm; and Canadian playwright Jeremy Webb brings his online-dating comedy FISHING to our stage on May 17 at 7pm.

squid-fish

* Mermaid’s Youtheatre is performing their new project, Be the Peace, at the Nova Scotia High School Dramafest in Halifax this weekend, with several performances in the coming months at several high schools around the province.

* Finally, we’re looking for a summer student here at the office.  This is a full time job for 12 weeks beginning June 2.  The posting is on the job bank.gc.ca website.  It’s open to students who are returning to school in the fall. If you or someone you know in the Windsor, NS area wants to work in a cool place, please get in touch.  The deadline is May 15.

Thanks for reading.  Have a good weekend!

@SpringofCulture and South Korea tour for #VeryHungryCaterpillar, and other news from Mermaid!

It has been a wild ride here at Mermaid Theatre’s headquarters in Windsor, NS for the past few months. We’ve put three shows out on the road, most recently sending off Mermaid veterans Christine Oakey, Kaitlin Morrow and Seann Murray with our Leo Lionni’s Swimmy, Frederick & Inch by Inch. They’re currently doing shows in the Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and we totally envy them at this time of year.

Seann, Christine, and Kaitlin with some of their friends from "Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch"

Seann, Christine, and Kaitlin with some of their friends from “Swimmy, Frederick and Inch by Inch”

Swimmy heads back North in March, with dates in New England and the Midwest. Our full schedules for all tours are here.

Back at home, we launched our 6th performing arts season at MIPAC, and had a great second workshop for our new production Stella, Queen of the Snow, based on the book by Marie-Louise Gay.  Also, our revitalized Youtheatre group has begun work on their new project on the topic of violence against women and girls.

Things don’t appear to be slowing down, and to top it off we’ve been dealing with our #WintryWednesdays, which means we’ve had major winter storms and office disruptions for at least the past three Wednesdays.  The good news is we’ve got two exciting international engagements happening in the next couple of months.  The first will see The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites head to the Kingdom of Bahrain for a week-long engagement at the Spring of Culture Festival. This touring company (one of two that are currently touring Caterpillar around the U.S. and Canada) consisting of Yvonne Yip (SM), Jonny Thompson, and Mara Zigler, will be joined in Bahrain by Mermaid’s Artistic Director Jim Morrow and General Manager Lisa Gleave.  Following that festival, the company (after a brief Roman holiday) will have a week off and then fly to Seoul, South Korea for a four-week run in and around the city.  We’ll get the details posted on our website soon.

April and May also see another installment of our ANIMOTION training workshop happening here at HQ. We’re pleased to report that it is almost full and we’ll be turning out another group of professionals, pre-professionals and educators freshly schooled in the art of puppetry—Mermaid style.

Directly following that, rehearsal for Stella will begin, as we will be showcasing the world premiere as a co-present with the Stages Festival and Magnetic North Theatre Festival in Halifax in late June.

Artistic Director Jim Morrow carves a puppet for "Stella Queen of the Snow"

Artistic Director Jim Morrow carves a puppet for “Stella Queen of the Snow”

Finally, we at the office would like to offer a “warm” shout-out to the other touring Caterpillar company (Shawn Sorensen, Kat McCormack and Simon Rainville), who have endured freezing Midwest winter weather and touring van malfunctions in good spirits and with minimal complaining.  We hope that 5-week sit-down run with the Chicago Children’s Theatre in the spring makes up for it!

Two Mermaid Theatre "Caterpillar" companies meet on tour in Toronto.

Two Mermaid Theatre “Caterpillar” companies cross paths while on simultaneous tours in the US and Canada. Toronto, 2013.

Mermaid Theatre News Update

We’ve got a lot of updates about Mermaid’s many activities, both for people in and around the Annapolis Valley here in beautiful Nova Scotia, as well as for our many fans around the world.

MERMAID THEATRE OF NOVA SCOTIA NEWS

Touring the US and Canada starting in October.  Click the image for tour dates.

Our newest flagship production, Treasured Stories by Eric Carle, will be wrapping up its second North American tour this June, with dates at MIPAC, our home theatre in Windsor, as well as in Halifax, as part of the Stages Theatre Festival.  The public show in Windsor is on Sunday, June 2 at 3pm and closes the season on our MIPAC 2012-2013 Entertainment Series.  The shows in Halifax will take place on Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8.  Details about the Halifax shows will be posted on their website soon.

Stella, Queen of the SnowMermaid is also hard at work on our next flagship production, Stella, Queen of the Snow, a beloved children’s book by Canadian author Marie-Louise Gay.  Artistic Director Jim Morrow as well as our talented production team are creating a wonderful snowy world to tell this lovely story in Mermaid’s unique way.  The show will premiere in 2014–keep watching our website for details.

 
 

MERMAID IMPERIAL PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE (MIPAC) NEWS

When it Rains - 2b theatre - MIPAC, Sat, May 11 at 7pm.
2b theatre company, an innovative Halifax-based group, are bringing their acclaimed show When it Rains to the MIPAC stage next weekend, Saturday, May 11 at 7pm.  This darkly funny drama looks like no live theatre you’ve ever seen, with performers and a video projector working together to tell a story in the style of a graphic novel.  You can get tickets online here or at the door. Please come out and support this great show.

 
 

rumpel3The Maritime Marionettes, a theatre company based in Truro, will be bringing their re-telling of the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin to our MIPAC Family Fare series this weekend in Windsor.  The show is Saturday, May 4 at 11am, and you can get tickets online here, or at the door.

 
 

As mentioned above, we’ll be welcoming home our own Treasured Stories by Eric Carle for a public show on Sunday, June 2 at 3pm, as well as several school-only matinee performances.  We’ve filled school matinee shows on June 4 and 5, and we might add a show on June 6 if there’s enough interest. Contact us if you want to bring a group to Windsor for a 10am show on Thursday, June 6.

MERMAID INSTITUTE OT PUPPETRY ARTS NEWS

  • ANIMOTION, our annual professional puppetry training program for adults begins May 13 and runs for 3 weeks.  The program still has a couple of spaces left–if you want to know more, check out this link.
  • We will be offering Summer Camps here in Windsor for kids from ages 3-18.  Programs run at different times starting in July.  More details are here.

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend!

ANIMOTION 2012 – #Puppetry training program at Mermaid, Aug. 13-Sep. 1; #WindsorNS #NovaScotia

The Mermaid Institute of Puppetry Arts will offer our intensive puppetry training program, ANIMOTION, in a compressed three-week format from August 13 – September 1, 2012 at our facility in Windsor. The program is called ANIMOTION to reflect dual emphasis on animation and objects in motion. The intensive will run for three weeks, Monday through Saturday, with students engaged in hands-on instruction, group creation, production, and puppet construction. Participants will be exposed to a range of puppetry styles, broadening their frame of reference and allowing common language and skills to emerge. The training will culminate with a presentation featuring new puppets and characters created during the three weeks.

Training will take place at Mermaid Theatre’s spacious headquarters in Windsor, NS. Located at the gateway to the Annapolis Valley, Mermaid’s home base offers a lovely rural setting with the benefits of proximity to Halifax. Participants will work alongside Mermaid’s creative team as they develop, build and rehearse our inventive brand of theatre which has delighted over 4.5 million spectators on four continents.

Faculty will include:

Jim Morrow – Jim creates puppets for stage, television and film, and is our Artistic Director. He has designed and directed numerous Mermaid shows. Jim has toured extensively and frequently conducts mater classes in puppetry in North America and abroad.

Struan Robertson – Struan has worked with Mermaid as a touring performer, production associate and senior workshop instructor. He has conducted puppetry workshops on two continents and has built puppets for several Mermaid shows.

Jesse MacLean – Jesse has directed and performed for multiple productions for Shakespeare by the Sea, and he regularly teaches workshops around the province. He has worked with Mermaid since 2006 and he is a past director of our Institute for Puppetry Arts.

Cost: $1100 + HST ($150 deposit due upon registration)

For more information, call 902-798-5841 or email puppets@mermaidtheatre.ns.ca

Puppetry Workshops for Kids Successful; Adult workshop coming up in August

Thanks to all the wonderful kids who came to our first Summer Puppetry Camps this month.  Struan and Kevin had a great time, and we hope you’re all still using the awesome puppets you took home with you.

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Jellyfish puppets of the world, unite!

Next up for us at Mermaid is ANIMOTION, or as I like to think of it, “Puppet Camp for Grownups.”  Our annual intensive program for enthusiasts and theatre professionals is over 150 hours of workshops taking place over three weeks in August.  We often find our next touring performers from these workshops, so if you’ve ever dreamed of life on the road with a touring theatre company, here’s one place to start.  If you’re interested, there’s more information on our website here.

Have a great weekend.