A photo of a man in an oversized mask on a scooter
Get ready! The 2017 Festival of Animated Objects is coming | Photo: Courtesy of FAO

Festival of Animated Objects

See world-class puppetry as FAO animates Calgary

Amy Jo Espetveidt

  • Price Free - $100
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Get ready Calgary! Some of the strangest, sweetest, and most peculiar creatures you’ve ever met have their eyes on you. The Festival of Animated Objects is ready to animate the city with four days of puppet shows, film screenings, gallery exhibitions, workshops, and more.

Breathing life into the inanimate and giving expression to the inert, the festival brings world-class artists to engage and entertain audiences of all ages. Through innovative and sophisticated storytelling, the featured artists use mask, puppetry, and animated objects to entertain and delight.

So, what are we most excited to check out? Here are our picks for the Festival of Animated Objects:

Leighton Reliquary & Face Off

Until April 29, 2017
Leighton Art Centre (282027 144 St. W)

By donation

Check out these two visual arts exhibits with an animated twist! In Leighton Reliquary, Leighton Art Centre and the Festival of Animated Objects present an exhibit that retells the tales of the LAC’s rich history in ways that are fresh, inspiring, and humorous. Featuring curious artifacts of the LAC and a graphic novel by artist Nick Johnson, Leighton Reliquary celebrates the true and imagined history of the centre. And in Face Off, Xstine Cook and the Calgary Animated Objects Society invite you to discover just how wild and varied Canadian identity can be with this collection of three-dimensional masks, hand-made by elementary school students.

The Unlikely Birth of Istvan

March 16 – 26, 2017
DJD Dance Centre (111 12th Ave. SE)
$25.25 – $38.25

Back in the winter of 1999, a ragtag gaggle of peculiar people gathered on a ranch in southern Alberta to create a metaphysical show for adults explaining birth, death, and everything in between. Specially remounted for the Festival of Animated Objects, The Old Trout Puppet Workshop goes back to the beginning with the show that started it all.


March 17 & 18, 2017
Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (225 8th Ave. SE)

A hit when it was here as part of the Calgary International Fringe Festival, experience a love story that whisks a man to the moon and back. See The Wonderheads put on their signature oversized masks and step into the life of a lonely man looking for love.

A puppet with an umbrella and blowing leaves

The Umbrella | Photo: Courtesy of the Festival of Animated Objects

The Umbrella

March 18, 2017
Engineered Air Theatre, Arts Commons (225 8th Ave. SE)

One in English, the other in French, don’t miss this all-ages show from Quest Theatre, Puente Theatre, and The Old Trout Puppet Workshop with artist contribution from Nikki Loach. The Umbrella tells the inspiring story of the relationship between an umbrella to its owner. An adaptation of the book written and illustrated by Judd Palmer, catch a post-show chat with the artists.

UofC Showcase

March 18 & 19, 2017
Motel Theatre, Arts Commons (205 8th Ave. SE)

A workshop presentation of new and experimental puppet and mask exploration, see what the next generation of artists is up to. University of Calgary students can show a valid student ID at the Arts Commons ticket office one hour prior to the show and receive one complimentary ticket.

Learning Component

Puppets can be welcoming and warm. Want to get hands-on at this year’s festival? Then you need to check out these learning experiences for kids and adults alike!

Creating Newspaper Marionettes  

March 18, 2017, 10:00am – 12:00pm
Warehouse 534 (534 9th Ave. SE)

What can you do with piles of newspaper, spools of string, and rolls of masking tape? Make a puppet of course! Join Ali DeRegt from Pape and Tape Productions for a workshop that will finish with some quick manipulation tips for your new puppet friend. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Puppets Build Bridges with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

March 18, 2017, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Royal Canadian Legion #1 (116 7th Ave. SW)
Free, registration required

Join Chrystene Ells, Berny Hi, and Sylvia Zieman from the Prairie Puppet Underground as they share their experience creating a puppet, mask, American Sign Language, and mime project with deaf youth in Regina. Open to all hearing and DHH participants, a DHH interpreter will be present.

Puppet Pop-Up Studio: Paper Folded Birds

March 18, 2017, 12:00 – 5:00pm
Arts Learning Centre, Arts Commons (205 8th Ave. SE)
Free, no registration required

Cut, fold, colour, and glue! It’s that easy to make your own feathered friend with fun paper sculpture techniques. WP Puppet Theatre joins the Festival Of Animated Objects to offer this free drop-by puppet making workshop. Recommended for ages four and up.

Photo of hands wearing eyeballs

Join the conversation with Privilege and Diversity in the Arts: Workshop and Discussion | Photo: Jenn Sieppert

Privilege and Diversity in the Arts: Workshop and Discussion

March 18, 2017, 1:30 – 3:30pm
Warehouse 534 (534 9th Ave. SE)

With a wide experience of working in diverse communities, Barry Bilinsky and Bill Yong have a few thoughts on the potential for arts to bring reconciliation, investigate power and status, and provoke discussion and open communication. Welcoming people from all communities, this workshop is recommend for ages 15 and up. No experience necessary.

The 2017 Festival of Animated Objects runs March 16 to 19, 2017 at venues around Calgary. Visit puppetfestival.ca for full festival lineup and to purchase tickets.