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Old Trout Puppet Workshop

A company of artists dedicated to re-imagining the art form of puppetry.

Our Story

Why We Exist

The Old Trout Puppet Workshop was founded back in the blustery winter of 1999 on a ranch in southern Alberta. We were a small gang of old buddies, with a fondness for beards and wood and wool and other old-fashioned and pleasant things; the world was uneasy with the threat of Y2K, and we felt an urge to huddle together for mutual protection, and to dedicate ourselves to something fragile, ridiculous, and gentle, out on the edge of the world. So we learned to carve puppets, and paid our rent through wholesome labour; we collected eggs, fed the pigs, cooked big stews, and premiered our first show to a bunkhouse full of cowboys and Hutterites.

Since those distant and savage days, the Old Trouts have grown to become a semi-respected collective of artists: we’ve made puppet shows for both children and adults that tour the world, written and illustrated several books, crafted immense sculptures, taught eager young apprentices the secrets of their mystical art, and even made some award-winning films.

We are first and foremost a collaborative enterprise, devoted to the advancement of puppetry as an art form that combines a variety of other art forms: acting, dance, sculpture, painting, music, and writing. Our passion springs from a core of founding members, who endeavour to develop a way of making art that is strengthened by the varied backgrounds and interests of its members; in turn, those varied backgrounds are shared, with a view to the long-term development of our collective understanding of the art of puppetry.

We seek out new collaborations with each project, to discover new territories, and expand the artistic scope of those involved.

Above all, we are dedicated to original creation: We interpret the world around us, the stories and histories and events that constitute our environment, and bring them into focus through the lens of our own idiosyncrasies and enthusiasms so that the end result is art that is immediate and unique.


Where the name comes from:

On the Palmer Ranch, where the Old Trouts first gathered, there’s a swimming hole much beloved by the people of the area. In that swimming hole, it is said, there lives an ancient fish, who will answer any question you ask it, if you can swim deep enough to find it. Our company is named after that noble creature, even though truth be told we never did manage to find it. “Old Trout” is also a term of endearment in Newfoundland, and that gave the name an endearing ring; of course, when we named ourselves thusly we were not yet old, but every day we become more and more like our moniker.

– See more at ABOUT The Old Trouts

Our Impact

What We Do

  • We promote and present puppet theatre, sculpture, and conventional theatre and to provide education in these areas.
  • We facilitate collaborative production of puppet shows, sculpture, theatre and related art.
  • We provide a facility that encourages varied and eclectic artistic endeavors.

Calgary’s Outstanding Artists for 2016:   (March 16, 2016 – Calgary AB)

The Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, organized by Calgary Arts Development and the Office of the Mayor, was sold-out for the fourth year in a row. On March 16, 2016, more than 675 Calgarians from all sectors gathered to recognize and celebrate the many ways that they champion the arts in our city.

  • We’re proud, and honoured, to be in select company as Calgary’s Outstanding Artists for 2016. Our thanks to award sponsors The Right Honourable Lois Mitchell and Doug Mitchell, and to Mayor Naheed Nenshi for his tireless support of the arts as a vital component of life in Calgary.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2013-2014 World Tour:

  • Our Famous Puppet Death Scenes performance has toured to over 35 cities and been seen by tens of thousands of people across Canada, the US and Europe.                    “Visually stunning and endlessly entertaining.” – LA Times
  • Our Ignorance performance continues to tour and headlined at the World Puppetry Festival in Charleville-Mezieres, which is a big deal for puppet people.                                  “Ignorance is bliss.” – The Calgary Herald
  • 8 performances of Ignorance to 1,600 people in France and the United Kingdom; 32 performances to 3,896 people in six cities in Canada; 5 performances to 850 people in Lyon, France.

World Premiere – Calgary: This Little Piggy, collaboration with Czapno Ensemble:

  • 2 performances to 400 people at Calgary Folk Festival Stage Workshop; and
  • 4 performances to 832 people at Calgary Folk Festival.

BC Tour: The Umbrella, co-production with Puente Theatre:

  • 1 premiere performance to 300 people in Victoria, BC; and
  • 1 festival performance to 220 people in Victoria, BC.

CAMP Founded: We founded CAMP – the Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry.

  • We believe that the next generation of artists should be puppeteers. So we do our best to find those folks that will carry on the torch of puppet greatness. We share our modest wisdom as best we can; and we’re also exploring a post-secondary program in puppetry.

Our Programs

How We Do It

Create and Tour the World with New and Marvelous Puppet Shows

  • We conceive, devise, wrangle and puzzle together a new, and hopefully inspired and entertaining puppet show every two or three years.
  • When we’ve got a show ready to go, we take it out on tour; in Canada, North America and Europe, including places like France, Spain, Denmark, Romania, and the United Kingdom.

Apprenticeship Program

  • We recruit, hire and train artistic apprentices to accompany us in the development of the afore-mentioned New and Marvelous Puppet Shows

Film Program

  • We have made, and continue to explore, the application to puppetry art through video, television and film in an effort to help finance the theatrical efforts of the company


  • We partner with the Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry (CAMP) to teach the art of puppetry through programs such as Banff Centre Puppetry Intensive, New England Puppet Intensive, and various workshops to artists, teachers and the general public

Puppet Workshop and Performing Arts Studio

  • We operate a creation space comprised of a woodshop/workshop and rehearsal studio. When not being used by us, this space is available at a discounted rental rate to theatre groups for rehearsals, meetings and creative endeavors.

Children’s Division

  • We continue to expand our touring to children, using current and new children’s shows, and the current ensemble plus apprentices

Our Requests

What You Can Do

The Old Trouts are ever so grateful for the support of volunteers, donors and supporters. Upcoming, we have opportunities for people to be involved with us:

  • Financial support of creating and touring a new show. Sponsorship opportunities exist to be associated with an international touring production that is already booked to perform in early 2017 in Canada then in Spain, Denmark and France.                                         —- If you would like to help us and “Become a Trout”, we’d be glad to have you join us – See          more at: Old Trout – How You Can Help Us
  • Volunteer support of fundraising. We appreciate anyone who can lend a hand as a casino volunteer, or assist us with our fund-raising events. We can offer complimentary tickets to our shows in exchange for a donation of your time. We can also make our Studio space available to volunteers for their own private events and creative endeavors.                   —- If you have any questions or would like to help by volunteering, please send us an email         or give us a call: 403-508-4929.


Bob Davis

Old Trout Puppet Workshop


Charitable Number: 867021529RR0001

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Annual Operating Budget: