History of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop

Mar 22, 2012

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop was founded by a gang of childhood buddies in the strange and brutal winter of 1999. Banding together in a desperate attempt to defend ourselves in the face of the coming Y2K apocalypse, we gathered on a ranch in Southern Alberta. There we lived in a coal-heated shack, built puppets in a barn, fed the pigs, collected the eggs, and premiered our first show in the old bunkhouse to an audience of cowboys and Hutterites.
The Hutterites liked the show more than the cowboys did.  We’re not sure what that means. But they helped us load our stuff into a horse trailer, and drove us into Calgary where we performed our first puppet show at the High Performance Rodeo.
The show went over pretty well, and seeing as how the apocalypse hadn’t happened, we figured we might as well keep at it.  And so we have, for over a decade.  Over the years, we’ve made eight shows, for adults and sometimes children.  We’ve toured across the continent and also in Europe.  We built a forty-five foot tall wind-powered cosmological clock/puppet machine for Big Rock Brewery.  We’ve made several short films, including a video for the much-beloved pop star Feist, which won a Juno Award for Best Video.  We’ve written children’s books (the Preposterous Fables for Unusual Children series), presented some theatre (Sailor Boy & Dziddiliboom by the Czapno Ensemble, and How I Became Invisible by the Clunk Puppet Lab), collaborated with Dandi Productions on a series of Roald Dahl poems adapted for orchestra and puppets, painted paintings, sculpted sculptures, and thrown some parties. We teach a bi-annual puppetry intensive at the Banff Centre to folks from all over the world.  We had a house band, the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir, which was more popular in Ireland than here for some reason.  We moved from the ranch to Calgary, then moved to Mexico, then moved back to Calgary again.  Lord knows what’s coming – we’re working on a public sculpture, a Christmas TV special, and another puppet show, which might be a sci-fi epic, we’re not sure yet.