Yes! The rumours are true, it's coming back ...
March 15 - 26, 2017, Festival of Animated Objects, Calgary
Back in the apocalyptic winter of 1999, a ragtag gaggle of peculiar people gathered on a ranch in southern Alberta and called themselves the Old Trout Puppet Workshop. After months of monkish isolation, they managed to distil the fundamental truths of the cosmos into a concise theorem: a metaphysical Punch and Judy show for adults, explaining birth, death, and everything in between. They premiered the show in the old bunkhouse to an audience of bewildered cowboys and Hutterites, and the rest is history… minor history, yes, but history nonetheless, for the Old Trouts have since gone on to tour the world with their work, and The Unlikely Birth of Istvan – specially remounted for the Festival of Animated Objects – is the show that started it all.
The Unlikely Birth of Istvan is an underground puppet production for adults, a grand unifying theory explaining birth, death, and everything in between—a fantastical visual poem about the essence of being human, from the perspective of puppets. It is an absurdist creation myth, equal parts Samuel Beckett and Jim Henson’s “Sesame Street.”
The play begins with a nightmare and ends with a miracle, careening through the profane, the divine, the magical, the surreal, and the sensual. On one level, it is the simple story of a conflict between a painter and a cook over a pig. On another, it’s about the war waged between Mind and Matter, the soul and the rumbling belly. It tackles, with childlike wonderment, the grand mystery of the formation of a human being.
With rollicking music and frolicking puppets, a colourful world unfolds in which the characters This and That battle for supremacy in the womb. The eternal conflict builds in desperation, as each strives for their own satiation. Finally, the world implodes into the metaphysical impossibility that is Istvan.
Now Playing at the Vancouver Opera until December 11, 2017:
Hansel and Gretel
They say that every fairy tale is fundamentally a story about either our fear of being devoured or our fear of being abandoned – Hansel & Gretel’s got ‘em both. It’s an unspeakable cannibal tale, straight out of the darkest reaches of the Black Forest, except with opera singers.
The Old Trout Designing Things Division
We're honoured and humbled to have received the Capital Critics Circle Award for design for our recent work with the National Arts Centre production of Twelfth Night.
We’re hard at work on a heap of secretive film projects ... stay tuned
Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry (CAMP)
Coming soon is a website dedicated to "CAMP" that will tell all. We'll send you a link, soon
Curious about what we do?
If you live in Calgary, Alberta or nearby or heck - even if you're just passing through - drop by our studio - Fort Trout - anytime for a visit.
Please call ahead to ensure that someone is actually there: 403-508-4929
Find us here: #106, 4632 1 Street S.E. - Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Special thanks to all the folks listed below for their on-going support::
To see and learn more about our story, and how you can help, visit our Calgary Foundation Community Knowledge Centre page:
"... A Wonderfully innovative delight."
- The Globe and Mail
"Hilarious, beautiful and macabre ... simply remarkable ... to intense to allow its audiences to catch its breath, the beautiful for them to want to."
- Fast-Forward Calgary
“Shoots straight to the most ancient part of us, where we feel love and loss wordlessly. . . .”
- Fast-Forward Calgary
In this, their newest production, the Old Trouts will break the Sacred and Ancient Covenant of the Bohemians to tell the secret truth about what it’s really like backstage at a puppet show: a looking-glass world, similar to yours but stranger; unhinged from true time, ungoverned by daylight or reason – an unending tea party, where monsters roam in the shadows, heads come undone from their bodies, apparitions shimmer in clouds of smoke, and there are sorrows enough to fill the sea, which is to say: Wonderland, before Alice arrives.
Underland is a loveletter to the delirious life of the theatre. The Trouts pull aside the velvet veil to invite the audience to join a hapless company of puppeteers, in the throes of attempting to perform a production of Alice in Wonderland. Their costumes are on, the puppets are ready, the lanterns are lit – but the child has not yet arrived, to play the title role. She is late. And the play must go on. The performers are growing deranged; each of them is entangled in his own expectations, in fear of the coming confrontation with innocence, but the ensemble has no idea what is approaching. They have been rehearsing their whole lives, and they are not prepared in the slightest.And so the dreamworld precariously spins on one end like a tottering gyroscope. Utter transformation is on its way. In Underland, where nothing ever changes, and the actors rehearse a play with no beginning and no end, bound by lines scribbled by a madman, backwards on blowing leaves… a door is about to open.
“Take care of yourself,” screamed the White Queen...
“Something’s going to happen!”
Thank you to the following "Trouts" for their support of our 2016 Fundraising Campaign so far ...
Rainbow Trouts ($500+)
Terry and Andrea Killackey
Bull Trouts ($250 - $499)
Speckled Trouts ($100 - $249)
Dale Lee Kwong
Adriana Van Der Heijden
Someday very soon there will be a style... that
will come to be known as ‘Old Trout-like’
– it’s just too good not to be imitated.”