Saying yes… to a Troll!

Several years ago I adopted a new policy. I called it the Say Yes policy, because it involved the Saying of Yes to things that I usually reacted to with a No.

I am a Say No kinda girl, in most instances.

Actually, quite often I’m a Say No, Then Run-Away-Screaming kind of girl, especially if the Saying of Yes indicates an agreement to do anything with Other People. I’m an anti-social, introverted creature, with an aversion to social engagements, social gatherings, social events, social studies… I used to have to Say Yes to things because they involved my children. But then my children all went and grew up, damn them, and I started to hide under a boulder because no one was forcing me out into the light of day. Sadly, hermitage isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, even though it’s blissfully easy.

Hence, the Say Yes Policy, which I adopted so that I would not moulder under a boulder, as it were. As well as being anti-social, I am incredibly lucky. Lucky, because the Saying of Yes has allowed me to participate in some pretty cool things, with some incredibly talented people, and although it doesn’t come without bruises, this flailing about in the social world has allowed me the opportunity to Do Things.

I do enjoy the Doing of Things.

Last year I did a puppet play. Because of that puppet play, I am now having another Puppet-ish adventure.


This is a Thing I am doing now… not because I know what I’m doing, not because I have any claim to knowledge or skill, not because I’m qualified, just simply because I am incredibly lucky, and I have a Say Yes Policy which opens doors to exciting adventures.

I highly recommend it. The next time an adventure crosses your path… say YES and see what happens? You too, may end up with a Troll in your living room.

Christina Murray messaged me, out of the blue, a stranger with a strange request.

She said, Puppets. She said, Troll, and Puppeteers, and Music, and Giant Hands.

I said… Yes! Absolutely! I am Troll!

This is a Troll.


He’s not finished, but when he’s done he’s going to be a puppet operated by three puppeteers from the Xara Choral Theatre, as they create their Tales of the Old North production called The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain on November 24-26 at the Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth, NS.


“Join us for our second annual Tales of the Old North holiday production featuring beautiful choral music, stunning visual design, and heartwarming story that is perfect for the whole family! This year’s story is called The Three Princesses in the Blue Mountain and tells the story of a brave Soldier who sets off on a journey into a fairy land to rescue three Princesses who were swept away by a snowdrift. Along the way she must contend with devious competitors, follow a flock of fantastical birds, and battle a giant troll! We will be joined once again by acclaimed actor Jennette White as our Narrator, and the stage will come alive with costumes designed by Berlin-based artist Matthew Peach and lighting design by Matthew Downey. Featuring music by Canadian composers Sarah Quartel, Stephen Hatfield, and Mark Sirret, new arrangements of songs by Coldplay and Metallica from Nova Scotian composer Zoe Leger, this wintery performance will be a treat for all the senses.”

Do I know how to make a giant puppet operated by three puppeteers?

YES… er… actually… no.

No, I don’t.

Am I doing it anyway?


See how easy it is? Just Say Yes!


Here he is, drying in my living room with Marilyn. Everyone should have a giant troll head lolling about in their living room, watched over by Marilyn Monroe. My Love doesn’t think so, but he lets it happen anyway.

The moral of the story? When a lovely stranger contacts you because she needs a Troll… say Yes!

I’ll post more as the adventure continues… the next step: Giant Hands on broom sticks!

You can find more information about Xara Choral Theater here:

And through their facebook page, here:

PicMonkey Collage


Mermaid’s Tears: one more week!

Mermaid’s Tears is appropriate for children, but it deals with adult themes. It is a story of loss and hardship, a story of families torn by tragedy and pain. But… it is also a story of redemption and resilience. It is a play that is going to be visually beautiful, with a hint of darkness around the edges.


It’s terrifying!

I mean… the play isn’t terrifying, but the prospect of people actually WATCHING it is! I always have to freak out the week before a show. It’s a thing.

This coming week is going to be intense. The set was moved into the theatre on Thursday, and now the exciting part of painting and dressing and fancifying can start! Fancifying is a fancy word for Building the Illusion!

set1        set2

Building the illusion of water, the illusion of wind and salt air and foggy mornings. The illusion of shadow and light, the illusion of puppets who seem real. Then Cameron Dexter, the magical God of lights and sound and set and all things digital, will twerk and tweak and… no.


No twerking.

Totally different play.

He will make light-y things happen. And music-y things happen. It’ll only take about sixty hours. No biggie.

Rehearsal every night this week. Plenty of nerves and excitement and last-minute adjustments because “Oh my god, my mermaid’s boobs are sagging” and “my head piece is giving me an aneurism” and “where’s the tail? Anyone? Tail, anyone?” But it will be fine… it will allll beeee fiiiine.

Lots of people have been asking if the play is appropriate for children. This is a good question… as adults we immediately associate puppetry with the realm of childhood, of make believe, but that isn’t necessarily so. Anyone who has watched the astounding Anomalisa will understand how powerful puppetry can be to convey mature themes.

Puppets are symbolism, puppets are metaphor.

Puppets are more than Bert and Ernie, although I can still watch old Sesame Street clips with great enjoyment! These days it’s difficult to determine what “appropriate for children” really means when so many mainstream children’s films are rife with sexual innuendo, gender bias and violence. I mean, have you watched the scene in Despicable Me 2 where they tie the lady to the roof of the car? Child appropriate?

That’s a rant for another day.

Mermaid’s Tears is appropriate for children, but it deals with adult themes. It is a story of loss and hardship, a story of families torn by tragedy and pain. But… it is also a story of redemption and resilience. It is a play that is going to be visually beautiful, with a hint of darkness around the edges.

The character of the Horrible Mother is, indeed… horrible! If you are bringing young children, there might be some scary bits. There is no inappropriate language, nudity, or overt violence… no animals or children were harmed in the making of this theatrical performance… but the Horrible Mother does get herself worked up a bit! Actually, we really hope she’s scary… that’s kinda the whole point. So please, bring your children, with the understanding that theatre is good for everyone, even when the performance sometimes touches on the darker side of life.

Mermaid Struggle

Again, we are delighted to share the stage with the Queen’s Community Choir for all three performances. After the Friday and Saturday shows, the audience is invited to stay and have a glass of wine and mingle with the cast and crew to see the puppets up close and ask whatever questions you many have about our process and method. The Sunday afternoon performance is a “pay what you can” show, if you prefer to attend a matinee. We are very much looking forward to your comments, so we can consider our approach to the Liverpool International Theatre Festival in May. What works? What doesn’t? Your perspective is invaluable to us!

I hope to write another update here before we hit the stage, but it depends how crazy the week is! (It is also the first week of a new semester at school, and I have seventy new students to torment.) Thanks to everyone who is liking and sharing our social media promotions, we love your support and interest!

Mermaid’s Tears at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool, NS

Friday, February 5 and Saturday February 6 at 8pm, $17/adult and $10/students(Meet and greet following each performance)

Sunday, February 7 at 2pm for “Pay What You Can” with no ticket reservations. First come, first served.

You can buy tickets here: Astor Theatre

You can purchase online tickets here: Ticketpro

You can find our facebook page here: Mermaid’s Tears on facebook

You can find information about the LITF here: Liverpool International Theatre Festival




Mermaid’s Tears is back!

We’re back!

After a brief hiatus, our merry troupe of thespians is on track to perform “Mermaid’s Tears” at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool on February 5, 6 and 7th, 2016.


I’m hoping to blog about our progress over the next month, as we approach showtime, so we can share our process with you. Putting on a play is always an adventure… we are all volunteers working around family and jobs and distractions and children and emergencies and colds and weariness and a multitudes of demands… but this play seems to be particularly fraught with challenges because of the nature of the puppets and the set, and the struggle of creating a performance from an original script. Usually, when we do a play, the playwright knew what they were doing when they created the play…

This, is not that.

We’re fixing the bugs as we go. Because Libby don’t know how to write plays! 😉

When we postponed our performance in November (read about that here) we knew it would be difficult to maintain our momentum, especially through the Christmas season, and into winter. Schedules change, time constraints appear, real life intrudes. As a result, unfortunately, our lovely mermaid Lily is unable to continue playing with us. As we pondered what to do about the mermaid… she is kinda important to the plot… we decided to re-create her as a puppet. We love Kate Dexter, who has stepped in be a puppeteer for the new mermaid! This was not part of the original plan, and has precipitated a flurry of mache and fabric and scales and fins over the last few weeks. I’m trying to record this process, since I didn’t do much of that in the building of the original puppets and I’ve been asked several times, usually in the grocery store, how these creatures are put together. The amazingly magnificent Lynn Sponagle, (who I affectionately call Sponzie), is building the tail. (I also call her Sponzarella, the Queen of Tail) She is the seamstress, I am the mache-stress, and between the two of us we hope to create something sparkly! (Call Sponzie if you want good tail!)

Here is a time-lapse video of the final maché of the head. I’ll follow up with images of the tail and all the rest over the next few weeks. The music on the video is an original song written for the play by Jessica Jurgenliemk.

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And please have a safe and fabulous New Year!

(BTW, this is my 100th post on this blog! Getting it in just under the wire before 2016!)

It takes a village.


This gallery contains 3 photos.

                            Mermaid’s Tears will be presented at the Astor Theatre                      in Liverpool, NS on November 5, 6, 7 & 8, 2015 It takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, building a puppet play. Well, maybe not a whole village, … Continue reading

Puppets and mermaids and seagulls, oh my!


This gallery contains 4 photos.

I’m embarking on a somewhat terrifying adventure as a Thespian. But it’s more complicated than that… as a Thespian-Playwrite. Actually, as a Thespian-Playwrite-Puppet-Maker. Well, to be perfectly clear… as a Thespian-Playwrite-Puppet-Maker-Puppeteer. Hence the terror. It’s a “Jack of all Trades, … Continue reading