Performing with Giant Puppets

Workshop 2:
February 22 & 23, 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 and puppetry 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 activate and move giant puppets in large spaces, particularly for performance in public or outdoor settings. We’ll examine the context for using such puppets: how do giant images lend themselves to working in public spaces and telling “big” stories, whether in theatre, parades, spectacle, and/or political action. What can large puppets communicate that other mediums can not? How do they engage with each other, the audience, and their environments?

We’ll do a deep dive into movement in this hands-on, practical workshop, first exploring awareness of our own movement vocabulary and then transferring that awareness to puppetry. We’ll build some easy life-size puppets that will help teams of puppeteers to examine the use of breath, focus, weight, listening, specificity and economy of movement, amongst other principles. For the rest of the workshop we’ll play with Clay and Paper Theatre’s own giant puppets and images integrating new learning into staging and movement possibilities. Weather permitting, we’ll see if we can take some of our movement work outside into public space.

This workshop is a weekend intensive spanning two six hours sessions that will take place on Saturday, February 22 and Sunday, February 23. This workshop runs from 10am to 5pm on both days..

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 weekend long 12-hour intensive is $180 (Includes 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.

IN ORDER TO REGISTER YOU MUST EMAIL CLAY & PAPER THEATRE AT to register. Please note the maximum participants for this workshop is 12 people. The intent is to keep this as hands-on experience as possible.

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.