WP Puppet Theatre: From a childhood gift to professional puppeteering

An audience enjoys a puppet show on a Sunday evening at Highland Park Community Centre, Calgary. (Photo by Sumeet Singh/The Press)

WP Puppet Theatre put on a show at Highland Park Community Centre on June 4. With a ticket price of $5, people from communities as far as the northeast visited the event with their family and friends.

It’s so good and important to get out and to see things in real life,” said Renee, an attendee.

Puppet shows are produced by the theatre to bring a mix of education and enjoyment to children.

“I think it’s a creative way to see the world in a different way,” Renee said.

The production, Walter the Water Droplet, is written around the theme of water preservation. The Highland Park audience included toddlers, who were sitting on the floor after not getting a seat.

WP Puppet Theatre Society was launched in 1991 by Wendy Passmore-Godfrey.

“I started as a little girl, and I would climb into the attic with my best friend, whose name was Pam,” Passmore-Godfrey said. “And we would make puppets because we were both kind of artsy.”

Passmore-Godfrey still recalls the year she didn’t have any money for a birthday present for her brother Peter, so she hooked up with Pam to make him a homemade puppet show.

“To this day he still remembers that,” Passmore-Godfrey said. “We used sock puppets, and we made a cake with flour and water and so I’m sure it was a great big huge mess.

“But my mother supported us, so, we carried on.”

They did their initial shows for other small events, like birthday parties. Later, Pam left and Peter joined the group.

“[Pam] retired when she was about 12 or 14,” Passmore-Godfrey said. “Then, my brother Peter started to work with me and we carried on with the letter P.”

Puppeteer Wendy Passmore-Godfrey performs her first show out of the three she is doing this day at the community centre. (Photo by Sumeet Singh/The Press)

In recent years, it’s become tough for the theatre to attract audiences, especially in a post-pandemic world.

“I think COVID really put a damper on that like it’s just common theatre,” said Kira Kulicki, marketing manager at WP Puppet Theatre. “We are offering affordable, family-friendly, fun events that can get people to come back out and enjoy the arts again.”

The theatre is also using online programs and mediums to showcase their work.

“We’ve got Baxter and Bird, which is a beautiful 45-minute movie that’s all part of a website that people can access with different puppet projects and conversation-discussion questions,” said Passmore-Godfrey.

WP Puppet Theatre can be reached for scheduling through their website, which also features a schedule of their upcoming events.

A father-son duo enjoy a puppet show at Highland Park Community Centre. (Photo by Sumeet Singh/The Press)
About Sumeet Singh Sidhu 7 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Sumeet Singh Sidhu is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.