Tuesday, March 22, 2011

First Nations Puppetry Project

In the summer of 2008 I was asked to be a part of a very special, very BIG and very personal, creative project.

The Bigstone Cree Nation community school (Oski Pasikoniwew Kamik) in Wabasca/Desmairis, Alberta, (Also my home town), was celebrating their 10 year anniversary. They needed someone to organize this big event and I knew I wanted to do it. 

Puppets on display at the Bigstone School

They were also starting a new Theatre Arts/Music program for grades K4 to Gr.6 and wanted my creative input. Of course I agreed, jumping at the opportunity to give back to my own community and contribute artistic influence on my own people. 

Close up of Puppets on display

This 4 month commitment would be a daunting task. I facilitated two 7 week theatrical workshops which included Dance, Drama, Puppetry and Music. This project was a life changing experience for me, giving me the chance to work with children and teach what I had learned to members of my community. 

Close up of Puppets on display

The final performance by the students was during the 10 year Celebration ceremonies. They presented a First Nations puppetry spectacular which included 70 children from the school dancing, speaking, drumming and parading for the members of the community. 

Close up of puppets on display

The performance told the story of their first nations landscape from the beginning of time. The giant life-sized puppets were designed by me and created together with the students. 

Close up of puppets on display

The performance was spiritual and magical. The members of the audience were deeply moved, many of them in tears and most of them filled with pride. It was a proud moment for me too. I had come full circle. 

Me posing with the kids form Bigstone School right after our fantastic performance!

This was the goal I had been hoping to achieve. I was able to show my community and myself that I made the right choice in leaving my home town. They were proud of me as an artist and as a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation and I was proud of my community and the kids who worked so hard!

Below are some pics of the process. Enjoy!!

My work desk and some concept drawings for the puppets

These puppets were inspired by cree artist Norval Morrisseau

Me painting the bear

Kids in rehearsal

Thanks again for your time and I hope you enjoyed!!