Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre—Online and Awesome!
Written by Julie Bisnath, BSW RSW
I’ve known about Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre for some time now. I’d heard from parents and caregivers rave reviews and my own children experienced the Rag and Bone “magic of live theatre” while in elementary school. Recently, however, I got to experience this magic myself and want to share a bit about the company and the performance with you.
First, from their website, is their mission:
“Our mission is to create and present intimate and innovative theatre experiences of high artistic quality for school and family audiences. We believe in simple, aesthetically beautiful effects that encourage imagination and new ways of looking at things.”
Second, a look at the people behind the productions:
“Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre has toured across Canada and the U.S. since 1978. Founders John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan are joined by musicians Russell Levia and Ainsley McNeaney in productions of exceptional creativity and value for young audiences. Over 100 performances a year take the company to schools, libraries, children’s festivals, and theatres. Kathy has also written for many children’s TV shows, including Mr. Dressup, Under the Umbrella Tree, and Theodore Tugboat. John appeared as Jackson on the YTV show Crazy Quilt. Numerous awards include an ACTRA award and a Citation of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry from UNIMA, the international puppetry association. Russell Levia and Ainsley McNeaney are frequent Rag & Bone collaborators. They bring their considerable musical expertise to our shows.”
So now that you know a little more about the theatre company, I want to jump right in to my experience with their latest show: Hippity Hoppity Snippets—a performance featuring stories about rabbits. Here’s a peak at John and Kathy mid-performance:
“Snippets is a series of staged readings, bringing words and pictures alive, using snippets of puppetry, masks, acting, music, and jokes.”
Due to COIVD-19, and restrictions on gatherings, Rag and Bone adapted this show into a virtual, online performance. Comprising of three small acts, or “snippets”, John and Kathy host the session and interact with their audience between each story. The Zoom format was engaging, and the pre-recorded acts were run seamlessly. I loved the mix of costumes and puppets and the inclusion of music and sound effects. For a children’s performance, John and Kathy had me laughing out loud with their acting and antics. The Zoom format also allowed me to see some of the other audience members—watching the children enjoy the show and react to the performers was a pretty good measure of the show’s success.
In partnership with Rag and Bone, CCPRN offered this event for free. FREE! While it ran at 50% capacity (we had capped it at 20 caregiver groups), and was enjoyed by those who attended, I couldn’t help but think that so many were missing out. So, here I am to tell you: Rag and Bone are planning their next virtual performance “Strange Snippets of Halloween” and I highly recommend that you register for this event. Running with support of the Ottawa Community Foundation, this event will also be FREE for CCPRN caregivers and their children. While their in-person shows were previously limited to Ottawa area members, the best part about a virtual performance is that caregivers and children, both near and far, can now enjoy. How awesome! Please follow us on Facebook and keep a close eye on our Events page for regular updates. You won’t want to miss out.
Here’s what some of the Hippity Hoppity Snippets audience had to say about how their children felt after watching:
- They loved the whole show!
- They were acting out the characters after the show- bear and bunny voices
- They really loved all the rabbits and they liked when the bear was looking for the red hat
- They liked when the adults got dressed up too and laughed at the noses and funny hats
Enough said! A huge thank you to Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre for producing this show and sharing it with us. I really can’t wait for the next one!
To learn more about their style of puppetry, called open manipulation, check out the About Us section on their website. To read up on their past performances visit Shows and Workshops.