Puppets for Peace aims to ‘make the world a better place’

ONSTAGE

What: Puppets for Peace festival with Roy Henry Vickers

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Where: Fairfield Community Association, 1330 Fairfield Rd.

When: Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tickets: Free or by donation

More information: puppetsforpeace.org

 

Victoria’s resident puppet master, Tim Gosley, says it’s fascinating how children and adults can still connect to the most basic puppets — even in this age of sophisticated technology.

“Sometimes, the simple puppets can evoke the greatest emotions,” said Gosley, who returned to his hometown in 2012 after four decades in television puppetry in Toronto. “People obviously know a human is working them, but are able to go into their imagination and accept the puppet as having life. It’s a magical process I still don’t understand.”

Gosley is co-ordinating the fourth annual Puppets for Peace Festival and parade this weekend at the Fairfield Community Association’s Fall Fair. The puppet festival began in homage to the United Nations International Day of Peace, which is today.

“We hope what we do is part of the puzzle to make the world a better place,” said Gosley, who worked on Fraggle Rock with Jim Henson and played bass in his puppet band.

He also played Basil bear on the Canadian version of Sesame Street in the late 1980s, working alongside guests such as Elmo, “before he got really big,” he said.

Gosley said he’s happy to be in Victoria, which has a “quiet puppet scene compared to the rest of Canada but a growing energy.”

The puppet festival is a way to connect with the community and has travelled to different neighbourhoods each year, he said.

The events range from puppet-making workshops and children’s shows to more avant-garde adult shows, as well as a parade to Government House. This year’s theme is the Salish Sea and features a performance bringing artist and storyteller Roy Henry Vickers’ book Peace Dancer to life with giant puppets.

Peace Dancer is the latest book in a series with writer Robert Budd that tells the story of a Tsimshian village flood and why it’s important to respect all life.

Gosley said he’s thrilled to work with Vickers. “First Nations are our first puppeteers,” he said, pointing to a long history of masks and string puppets being used in longhouse events.

“You’ll see some of these items in museums, but unfortunately, some of these traditions have been lost to colonialism,” Gosley said.

Other performances include the Jessie award-winning Freddie in the Neighbourhood by Vancouver’s Little Onion Puppet Company and Crab Apple Trolls with Sue Proctor — “a fairly well-respected clown from Winnipeg,” Gosley said.

Gosley will also be performing, mainly with his small fuzzy Kermit-like gopher friend named Little Yellow Guy.

He made the puppet several years ago as a prototype for a television show, but it was rejected as too simple. “He’s become my favourite puppet. He’s like my sidekick, a gentle, open-hearted soul,” he said.

spetrescu@timescolonist.com

 

For details, see page C12

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