Canadian company founded in 1974 in Toronto by Ann (b.1951 in the UK) and her brother David Powell (b.1952 in the UK). Both Ann and David Powell studied at the Ontario College of Art & Design. They played with puppets during their childhood. Their first show, The Millerand His Wife (1976), offered a glimpse of the downplayed humour that would become a mainstay in all their plays. Beautiful visuals, an unusual scenography and puppeteers in full view have become the hallmarks of their style. Brick Brothers’ Circus (1978) is an object theatre play (bricks in sequined costumes), Bed and Breakfast (1986), originally a solo created by Ann is now played as a duo. Stage directors Sharon Weisbaum and Sue Miner and other artists contributed to the development of their theatrical and ingenious plays. The company has received five awards of excellence (UNIMA-USA Citation of Excellence), the Puppeteers of America’s President’s Award, eleven Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, and was twice in the running for the Chalmers Canadian Play Award for playwrights.
The Puppetmongers have toured the Americas, Europe and the Middle East (which inspired their Walidad the Grass Cutter 1981); in 1982, David Powell travelled to Bali, Indonesia out of which experience he built his own gamelan (percussion orchestra). The company’s annual event at the Tarragon Theatre was declared a “winter holiday tradition in Toronto” in 1990. In addition to the puppet workshops they organize from kindergarten to university level, Puppetmongers Theatre founded the Toronto School of Puppetry (1996), which offers workshops to adults. Among the shows they have played for many years, it is worth mentioning Tea at the Palace (1989), Cinderella in Muddy York (2001), and for adult audiences: The Ballad of Tamlin (1995), The Pirate Widow Cheng (2002), co-produced with the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) and Charles Dickens’ Hard Times (2010).