Puppeteer and ventriloquist Kellie Haines will be running three workshops over the second week of March Break.
The three workshops will run at different times on the same days, with one for children between six and eight years old, one for children between nine and 12 years old, and one for teens 13 and older.
Each workshop will include the creation of a sock puppet, a musical, skits, story-boarding and more. At the end of the week, all three groups will perform together for the residents of Dunrovin Park Lodge.
Haines, who performed in Quesnel last fall, says she is excited to return.
The idea for the workshops came when Haines was last in Quesnel. She stayed with Quesnel and District Community Arts Council member Cathy Heinzelman during her brief stay here, and together, the two of them came up with the idea.
It won’t be Haines’s first workshop either: she’s fresh off a two-week residency at an elementary school, where she worked with two kindergarten classes, a Grade 1 class and a Grade 6 class to create puppets and create a musical of their own.
“The kids and the youth really impressed me,” she says. “I just gave them the foundation.”
One particularly creatively student managed to make their puppet look like a duck, says Haines.
“I really believe [Quesnel is] a community — and I’m not just saying this — it’s a community that really celebrates the talents of the younger people. And I think the cool thing about performing the end result [of the workshop] at Dunrovin is it’s going to be really good to have the younger kids [performing for] the older folks, and then to also have a meet and greet afterwards.”
Haines says no one needs to be a puppeteer to take the workshop — that’s what she’s there to teach. She also says it’s about much more than just making a puppet.
“We’ll be doing character work, we’ll be finding voice, and finding body without using any words — and that’s what makes a puppet alive.”
She says she’s looking for puppeteers, singers and narrators.
“You don’t have to know how to sing,” she says. “But if you do, join up and let me know that you would like to sing with a puppet.”
Heinzelman says adults are also welcome to participate in the workshop for students 13 and older.
Haines says she is particularly excited at the prospect of having older students.
She has taught workshops for teachers and caregivers and even emergency room doctors. Her training provides them with the ability to better work with or soothe their students or patients, and it’s something Haines clearly enjoys.
“I even met a teacher who was teaching French, who only spoke French with the children through her puppet,” says Haines. “So the children were even more psyched to learn French, a new language for them that might have been tricky, because they knew they could talk to the puppet.”
On top of helping professionals do their jobs, she says puppeteering is also growing more popular as a profession, rather than just something for children.
One reason for this, she says, is Darci Lynne Farmer, a young puppeteer and ventriloquist who won Season 12 of the popular show America’s Got Talent.
“It’s not just for little kids,” adds Haines. “It’s for everyone.”
As for herself, Haines says: “I was finding a voice for my puppet, but in the end, I found my own voice. It sounds kind of cliché, but it’s true.”
“And then when [the students] interact with the audience at Dunrovin, I think it’s going to be very magical,” she adds.
There are bursaries available for each of the workshops, which run from March 25 to 28 at the Quesnel Friendship Centre. Parents and guardians are asked to register their children in advance.
The performance (as well as a pizza lunch) will fall on the final day of the workshop.