Our top picks for this year’s Festival of Animated Objects

It is nearly impossible to tell you what you should see at this year’s Festival of Animated Objects when everything on offer is worth checking out, but here are some suggestions for you indecisive types:

• The Unlikely Birth of Istvan: For those of you who weren’t fortunate enough to have witnessed The Old Trouts’ first presentation of The Unlikely Birth of Istvan waaaaay back in 1999, this is your chance to take in the production that started the Trouts on their path to glory. The show is for adults, “explaining birth, death, and everything in between.” Plus, puppet nudity! Recommended for ages 18+. (DJD Dance Centre, March 15-26.)

• Loon: Francis is a lonely man who is searching for love. The sky’s the limit in his imagination, which is good because where it takes him is to the moon. Live action with Wonderheads Theatre’s signature oversized masks will make for a touching and engaging performance. (Engineered Air Theatre, March 17-18.)

• Broken Sugar Bowl: A multimedia adult play crafted around the poems of award-winning Canadian poet, Mildred Tremblay. Through these poems which touch on women’s issues and, indeed, their experiences, a story of “Old Woman” is crafted through puppetry. (Motel Theatre, March 18-19.)

• The Umbrella (all ages): People get attached to things — it happens to all of us. Relationships can be formed with another person, a beloved pet, or hey, maybe even an umbrella. An adaptation of the book written and illustrated by Judd Palmer, The Umbrella tells such a tale, and through this telling we learn how powerful love is. Even if it is umbrella love. (Engineered Air Theatre March 18.)

• Red Leather Yellow Leather: Stan Lee, a second-generation Chinese-Canadian and Neech, a Metis-Cree, are clowns who endeavour to take back their cultural traditions and battle a homogenous Canadian Identity in a comedic, possibly non-PC kind of way. (Engineered Air Theatre, March 19.)

Special mentions 

• Animovies: Mature themes in these puppet and stop-motion films from around the world, described as “curious, dark, intriguing, and hilarious…” (Royal Canadian Legion #1 (upstairs) March 18.)

• Somnambulist Puppet Sideshow: Part of the festival’s free programming, this sideshow takes place at various venues and offers an assortment of “dark and mysterious puppet sideshow attractions.”  (March 17 -18.)

• Dolly Wiggler Cabaret: Edgy, hilarious performances coming at you fast and furious, plus, it’s licensed and 18+! (Royal Canadian Legion #1, March 17-18.)

The Festival of Animated Objects runs March 16-19 and offers something for everyone this year. Check out the full schedule at

Kari Watson is a writer and former Listings Editor of Fast Forward Weekly, and has continued to bring event listings to Calgary through her website, The Culture Cycle. Contact her at