Toronto School of Puppetry is Fostering Puppetry Culture and Creativity Across the Globe

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Puppetry is a long-respected art form that has captivated audiences for centuries. 

From shadow puppets and hand puppets to marionettes and rod puppets to the much more modern iteration seen on iconic television shows, the art of puppetry has a rich history and has evolved into a modern art form that is practiced and admired all over the world. 

Indeed, in the heart of Toronto, the art of puppetry is still a much-celebrated mix of tradition and entertainment. Ann Powell and David Powell have entertained audiences for years with their spectacular shows. Patrons flock from all over the world to watch the company’s productions, as well as their unique educational courses. 

As the co-artistic directors of Puppetmongers and founders of the Toronto School of Puppetry, they are dedicated to building and strengthening puppetry culture in both Canada and the United States through sharing skills and techniques.

For over two and a half decades, the pair has been delighting crowds with their puppetry performances at the Puppetmongers Theatre since 1995. However, what may come as a surprise to many is that after their shows conclude, the duo shifts gears to become educators at the Toronto School of Puppetry.

“The people taking these classes and courses are drawn from many backgrounds,” David Powell explains. “Some are theater artists widening their practice, visual artists wishing to explore performance, musicians wanting to add visual elements to their work.” 

But from this pool of attendees looking to immerse themselves in the art form, a specific kind of puppetry is on the rise. “Some are looking to create puppet theater for an adult audience,” David says. 

The School’s adult learning program is robust, with offerings like PXL (Puppetry eXploratory Laboratory), which is an ongoing in-person mentorship program for individual artists or small groups to collaborate on puppetry projects. The primary focus of PXL is fostering creative ideation rather than serving as a platform solely for exhibiting future productions. 

Another exciting program is the Puppetry Intensive Course, a two-week course that runs from June 5th to 16th, 2023, from Mondays through Fridays. UNIMA Canada is offering the UNIMA Pro Circuit in conjunction with the course. With a focus on discovery, students will have the opportunity to work with professional puppeteers and learn different techniques in puppetry.

Fresh Ideas in Puppetry is another program where puppeteers can showcase their work in progress. The one-day conference and festival will provide an opportunity for emerging and established artists to share their work with others.

In 2023, the School of Puppetry will also offer unique children’s workshops, such as the Free Your Inner Monster! Workshop with Jamie Shannon. Children will have the chance to make their own inner monster puppet and learn how to bring it to life.

The Toronto School of Puppetry is more than just a puppet theater – it is a community that fosters creativity, collaboration, and innovation in puppetry culture. Through their programs, Ann Powell and David Powell are dedicated to supporting the development of new work by emerging and established artists while also opening up the art form to anyone interested in integrating puppetry into their artistic practice. 

To learn more about the Toronto School of Puppetry, visit their website at or follow them on Facebook at /puppetmongerstheatre and Twitter/Instagram at @puppetmongers.

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