Friday night at the Gas Station Theatre and the stars of the evening were having their strings pulled by some pretty creative people.
Since 2010, Winnipeg Puppet Slam, a collection of puppet masters have thrilled audiences with their puppet shows.
In 2010, Heather Henson brought her short puppet film collection called ‘Handmade Puppet Dreams’ to Winnipeg and encouraged and inspired some local puppeteers to form a group and put on a Puppet Slam. This is the 8th Puppet Slam held in Winnipeg since then. Like Poetry Slams, a Puppet Slam is when a group of artists get together and have a show, be it poets or puppeteers.
The evening started off with Ed Ackerman and his life-size puppets being manipulated by volunteers he called from the audience. His piece was entitled ‘Scenes From the Courtroom’ and dealt with his battles with the city over his downtown properties that he owned. Ed called it ‘Reality TV Courtroom scenes’. The script he used was the actual court transcripts which he and another volunteer read from. Unfortunately the stage manager gave him the hook and he had to quickly wrap up his courtroom drama.
Next, Cody Creed, who mostly busks as a living statue, went into the Garden of Eden with his very clever snake puppet draped around his shoulder and manipulated with his right arm. In ‘Scriptural Contraction’, the snake threw out apples to the audience and tried to catch them when they threw them back. The scene ended with the lights going down and his statue character being engulfed in flames that were projected onto him.
Jeremy Williamez, the emcee for the evening, was very entertaining in between acts and pulled out a puppet of his own who apparently became too shy to talk to the audience.
Mochinosha,(www.facebook.com/TheWishesPuppetCompany website: mochinosha.com), who did a brilliant performance of ‘The Devil’s Circus’at this year’s Fringe Festival, performed ‘Birth of Issun-b?shi’ about a couple who was trying to conceive a child, and the lengths they went through to do so. The very imaginative duo of Japanese born Seri Yanai and Daniel Wishes of Winnipeg used cut-outs and shadows for their show.
Ben Dyck came on stage with an overhead projector and proceeded with his history of Transcona lesson called ‘Trash Coma’. Very funny stuff and no offence taken from myself who grew up in the land of the pink flamingos out east.
Brian Longfield and Charla Ramsey who call themselves 6, performed ‘A Tension’ next. An amazing performance with brilliant visuals projected on the screen behind them as they each donned a variety of masks and acted out the various parts.
Every time I’ve seen Brian perform over the years, his masks and stage show has become more elaborate.
Estee Taylor and Jazz on a String Marionettes (www.jazzonastring.com/stars.html) consists of Estee and her male and female marionettes. Joe Jazz, the male pianist’s fingers were tinkling on the piano as fast as Estee’s arms could manipulate them. Quite the class act, I must say. Then the woman marionette, Jessica, came on a did a sultry little lounge number. She was even greeted with cat calls as she came on stage. One sexy puppet.
Emcee Jeremy came on stage with a guitar and adapted an old song of his ‘Puppies in a Bag’ to ‘Puppets in a Bag’. The song was a cry out to stop the cruel act of throwing out Puppies … I mean … Puppets in a bag.
The last and most elaborate act was ‘Robot Adventures on Planet Earth’ by Curtis L. Weibe and Dan Powell. The story of robot Max Hansom Ductwork: Master Magician and his lovely robot assistant, Tammy, who is tired of playing second fiddle and would rather be called ‘Corvette’. It seems like robots have feelings and aspirations also.
Puppet Slam crew for the evening was Todd Drader, Mike Furnish, Brian Longfield and Daniel Wishes.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer
Videos by QUIDAM
Check out QUIDAM’s videos by clicking on the links below:
1) Ed Ackerman- ‘Scenes From The Courtroom’ (excerpt)
2a & 2b) Cody Creed- ‘Scriptural Contractions’ (parts 1 & 2)
3) Mochinosha- The Birth of Issun-boshi
4) Ben Dyck- ‘Trash Coma’
5) ‘6’ Brian Longfield & Charla Ramsey- ‘A Tension’
6a) Estee Taylor- ‘Joe Jazz’
6b) Estee Taylor- ‘Jessica’
7) Jeremy Williamez- ‘Puppies in a Bag’
8) Curtis Weibe & Dan Powell- ‘Robot Adventures on Planet Earth’