Coming to Toronto Fringe 2009: HANK'S TOYBOX THEATRE presents AS YOU PUPPET

From Press Release


(William Shakespeare’s As You Like It with Puppets!)

Adapted and performed by Jane McClelland & Mike Petersen, directed by Ken MacDougall & Tom McHale, sound design Saul Pincus, stage manager Wayne Sujo

All the world’s a puppet stage at the Kid’s Fringe this summer as puppeteers Jane McClelland (Twelfth Night, Piggery Theatre; The Tempest, Festival of Classics) and Mike Petersen (Jim Henson’s Fraggle  Rock; Bunnicula, LKTYP; The Babysitter, Theatre Direct) present a bold new combination of furry toys and vintage comedy.


THE CHALLENGE: to present William Shakespeare’s As You Like It with ONLY TWO talented performers playing 20+ CHARACTERS, bringing them to life using stuffed animals PLUS making the story accessible and entertaining to children!

AS YOU PUPPET is the inaugural production of Hank’s Toy Box Theatre, named after McClelland’s one-year-old son, whose actual toy box (on loan) hides the cast of characters until they spring to life as ―table top puppets. In this style of puppetry the performers are fully visible, while the puppets – in this case, ordinary plush toys – are made to flex, flop and frolic on table-high settings. Add a few pieces of simple scenery and voila! Instant classical theatre with a bit of a cartoon twist. The villain is a crocodile, the courtly servant is a tropical bird, the love-struck heroine is a teddy bear, and the bumbling clown Touchstone is a bunny who wears a polka-dot bowtie.

“As You Like It is my favourite Shakespeare,” says Petersen, who’s been entertaining kids for most of his adult life. “It’s funny, and the characters are so great, but the language can be daunting, so we’re populating the show with familiar animals.”

The idea is simple: the good guys are cuddly while the bad guys are not, and as they spout the lines that Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago, these instantly recognizable characters will pose or swoon and sometimes even fly, so that what they’re saying will be clear. In other words: you could remove the words and still understand this timeless tale of love and disguises.

“We’ve shortened the play, but we haven’t changed the remaining text,” says McClelland. “We want the kids to have a positive first experience with Shakespeare, so they know it can be fun!”

“Petersen’s storytelling and puppetry are magical.” – The Coast, Halifax

AS YOU PUPPET opens on Thursday, July 2nd and plays till Sunday, July 12th at the Palmerston Library Theatre –

560 Palmerston Avenue (2 blks W of Bathurst/Bloor). Adults $10 / Kids $5. Fringe Hotline: 416-966-1062 

Running Time: 60 minutes         NO LATECOMERS WILL BE ADMITTED

Thurs July 2, 4:50pm    Fri July 3, 8:05pm        Sat July 4, 2:20pm       

Mon July 6, 12:40pm   Wed July 8, 5:40pm      Thurs July 9, 3:45pm  

Sat July 11, 12:25pm    Sun July 12, 7:05pm

Palmerston Library Theatre – 560 Palmerston Avenue (2 blks W of Bathurst/Bloor)   Adults $10 / Kids $5

Fringe Hotline: 416-966-1062      Running Time: 60 minutes    NO LATECOMERS WILL BE ADMITTED