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Beware the Jabberwock! All about the latest Old Trout Puppet Workshop show

By SILVIA PIKAL

Calgary’s own Old Trout Puppet Workshop has a new show in town. Jabberwocky follows a young male hare on a quest to slay the Jabberwock—and the emotional struggles that come with such a perilous destiny.

The show comes on the heels of Twelfth Night, an Old Trout partnership with Theatre Calgary, which brings a fresh take on the classic Shakespeare play through jaw-dropping and imaginative props, sets and costuming.

What is Jabberwocky? 

Jabberwocky is inspired by a strange, nonsensical poem in Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking Glass that describes the killing of a creature named “the Jabberwock.” Old Trout have long desired to transform one of Carroll’s works into a new production.

“Something that always stood out to us from that work is Jabberwocky,” says Peter Balkwill, one of the co-creators of the show. “There’s so much richness in the text that is open to interpretation. We thought it would be fun to go down that rabbit hole. And so we did. It’s got profound monsters, noble heroes with good intentions and battles—all the makings for good stuff.”

Balkwill says the play is about challenging the fears that keep us up at night: “Not so much the great epic fears that loom and are presented to us on a daily basis by the media, but more those sneaky little fears that get under your skin. In creating it we wanted to remind ourselves of what is really worth living for—worth struggling and fighting for.”

A new puppet extravaganza for adults 

The show, aimed at adult audiences, makes use of puppets, masks and other props to tell the story. Old Trout are working with four puppeteers who operate more like six, requiring some very robust puppetry acrobatics.

“They’re flipping a lever with a foot while moving something with their hand,” Balkwill says. “They levitate themselves to accomplish the impossible before your very eyes.”

He says puppets are an excellent medium to tell the tale: “It deals with a very acute sense of the hero’s journey. It has epic qualities. And puppets treat epic material in a very accessible way for the artist and the audience.”

The show is playing February 21 to March 4 at the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Dance Centre.

 

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