An Introduction to Backpack, Lolly & Rod Puppets

January 29 to February 15, 2020

Giant puppets lend themselves to a wide range of creative uses, whether in a theatrical play, a community setting, in parades or even as part of civil protest. The history of giant puppetry is deep and varied. Explore this powerful tradition of image making with David Anderson, Canada’s pioneer in public space performance who, with over fifty years of experience, is a master of narrative theatre using large-scale puppetry, musical soundscapes and exaggerated gestures.

This workshop is hosted and run by Clay & Paper Theatre. The goal of the workshop is to teach participants how to build a giant puppet from start to finish, with an emphasis on techniques that can be used for many different styles of puppets. We will also discuss the context for using such puppets, that is, how do giant images lend themselves to working in public spaces and telling “big” stories.

PLEASE NOTE: Because of the length of time it requires to build a giant puppet (plus the amount of clay or cardboard needed and the lengthy papier-mâché process that it entails), workshop participants will build, one large puppet together as a group (not individual puppets). As a result, this experience will emulate what it is like to create a giant puppet in a community and/or cooperative studio setting, and will reflect the discussion and decision making process involved with a team of artists.


Day 1

Discussion of background/context of giant puppets/puppetry; review design image for project; begin building armature for sculpture

Day 2

Sculpting of head and hands / begin costume

Day 3

Papier-machéing continues / continue costume

Day 4

Papier-machéing (remove puppet from mold, reinforce, begin painting) / continue costume / backpack assembly

Day 5

Assembly of puppet begins (including costume, backpack, hands/arms)

Day 5

Assembly of puppet completed, dance with puppet! (very basic training/intro to animation of giant puppet)


Wednesday, January 29, 2020 – 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday, February 1, 2020 – 1-4pm
Wednesday, February 5 2020 – 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday, February 8, 2020 – 1-4pm
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 – 6:30-9:30pm
Saturday, February 15, 2020 – 1-4pm

*This is a 6-session course, with accumulated knowledge/teaching and building process etc i.e. It is NOT a drop-in.


All workshop activities will take place at the Clay & Paper Theatre studio at 221 Sterling Rd, Unit #5, south west of Lansdowne and Bloor (and north of the MOCA building, i.e. Museum of Contemporary Art). The entrance to our studio is on the east side of the building, down what seems like an alleyway, but can be identified on maps as Merchant Lane. The awning above our studio entrance says “Raw Space”. A detailed map to our location will be provided to all registrants.


The fee for this three-week long program is $300. It includes the cost of all materials. Payment plans are also possible. Please enquire directly with Clay & Paper Theatre to discuss at or 416-708-3332. Cheques should be made payable to Clay and Paper Theatre. Payment must be received by start of class, unless otherwise arranged.

Please email Clay & Paper Theatre at to register. Please note the maximum participants for this workshop is 10 people, due to space restrictions, but also with the intent that this remain a cozy and cordial and hands-on experience.


David Anderson, Founder and Artistic Director of Clay & Paper Theatre is a pioneer in public space performance in Canada. He has fifty years of performance and production experience and has performed and directed across Canada, the U.S.A., Russia, Georgia, Europe and Africa. David’s work has been informed by his desire to bring theatre to as wide a cross-section of the population as possible. To accomplish this he has developed a style of narrative theatre using large-scale puppetry, musical soundscapes and exaggerated gestures particularly suited to the challenges of performing in the unique venues of public parks, plazas and streets. He has written or co-written twenty plays and directed more than thirty-five productions, bringing together seasoned professionals, young theatre aficionados, and entire neighbourhoods and communities through his work.

Jesse H. Wabegijig is an Ojibway from Wiikemikoong Anishnaabek Territory located on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Jesse is a playwright, performer, director and sculptor/puppet maker and they are currently working as an Associate Producer with Clay and Paper Theatre. Jesse is passionately involved in the preservation of native cultural heritage. Jesse has had the opportunity to work with many historically significant companies that have shaped both the indigenous art and public art sector in Canada. They include: Debajehmujig Storytellers, Shadowland Theatre, the National Arts Centre, Paprika Festival, Jumblies Theatre, MABELLEarts. They have trained extensively with the Centre for Indigenous theatre where they completed a four year conservatory program.