Montreal has many unique festivals but a good one to check out is the Festival de Casteliers (the International Festival Puppet Theatre for Adults and Children). When an inanimate object brought to life evokes emotion, the feeling is magical. This unusual festival brings ten different puppet theatre shows from Europe and across Canada to Montreal, along with workshops, discussions, and film. For those interested (or in the know), the variety of puppet techniques is an education in itself: bunraku, table top, shadow, mask, object theatre, and others. Every day, hang out at the festival’s centre at Pavillion St. Viateur (532 Bloomfield Ave) and run into the performers and puppetry fans from noon until midnight
We already spoke to the team behind Louis Riel here, but some of the other shows you should see are:
The Table by Blind Summit Theatre (England)
If you’ve seen the poster for the festival for this year, you’ve seen poster child, Moses. Despite his cardboard head and soft body, he’s a cantankerous, three-man operated puppet who lives life as an existential crisis — never alive, never dead. He tells stories and has a habit of dancing. The Guardian picked this one as the pick of a festival in the UK and the show has won accolades from the media.
Theatre Outremont (1248 Bernard W) on March 2 at 7:30 p.m., and March 3 and 5 at 8:30 p.m. $34/30. In English with French subtitles. Tickets HERE.
Camando & Avlando by Ubus Theatre (Quebec)
Puppetry in a school bus for this one. Get inside a bus that’s been transformed into an airplane and find out about the life of Jeanne Nadjari who survived the World War II concentration camps and moved from place to place. The piece is delivered documentary style and the puppets used are tiny objects, making this an intimate performance that has gone around the world from Quebec to France and Brazil.
Paul-Gerin-Lajoie d’Outremont High School (475 Bloomfield Ave) on March 3 at 1:30 p.m., March 4 at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and March 5 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. $25/23/16. In French. Tickets HERE.
Oh! L’Oie, l’Oie! by Teatr Animacji (Poland)
Get inside the mind of a skinny, ugly, lonely goose as it searches for meaning in life. She doesn’t do it alone either but is assisted by enough other animals that Aesop would be proud.
Paul-Gerin-Lajoie d’Outremont High School (475 Bloomfield Ave) on March 3 at 7 p.m., March 4 at 3 p.m., and March 5 at 11 a.m. $25/23/16. In French. Tickets HERE.
Caws & Effect by Mind of a Snail (Vancouver)
Shadows puppets tell the story of survival and extinction from the mind of a dreaming bird. This is an award winning piece about the environment with an important message.
Theatre Outremont (1248 Bernard W) on March 6 at 3 p.m. $22/20/16. No words. Tickets HERE.
To attend any of the shows of the festival, check out the schedule, or find out more, click HERE. The festival runs from March 2-6.