The Watch & Spectacle Puppet Company, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, is the brain-child of Asa Nodelman. While the company has experimented with shadow and rod puppets, trick marionettes are its specialty. Asa formed the company to produce shows for the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. The first was called The Clock in the Lobby and appeared in 2007. The second was The Aethernomicon in 2008. The Watch & Spectacle Puppet Company has also appeared at the Puppet Apocalypse (2010), Winnipeg's first puppet slam.
By producing puppet plays with sophisticated narratives, constructions, and performances, we wish to foster an enjoyment of puppetry and ultimately reveal puppetry as it truly is: a mature art-form that can be appreciated by all people. We use our plays in part to explore and experiment with the ideas of what a puppet is and what it's for, and how puppetry relates to the other theatrical arts. We encourage our audiences to do the same. We hope that by leading the way to a mature understanding and practice of puppetry, we will inspire other local artists to try it out for themselves. Together we can seize the opportunity to transform Winnipeg into the Canadian centre of puppetry!
Kid Praha Wooden Marionette Construction Course, June 2009
This two week course was run in a workshop in Prague. The students designed and carved wooden marionettes, painted their works, and sewed them costumes before putting together a small performance. Because puppets are so popular in Prague, the students had many opportunities to see live performances and works of stop-motion animation.
Puppetry Intensive at the Banff Centre for the Arts, New Years 2009
Three grueling weeks of twelve-hour days, this course is taught by Peter Balkwill of the Old Trout Puppet Company. Topics of instruction included exercise, movement, masking, writing, production, puppet construction and manipulation. The classes ended with a show of the students' work at the Margaret Greenham theatre.
Toronto School of Puppetry Spring Intensive Course, Spring 2006.
Four week long sessions, including a master class with Noreen Young, a facial animation course, a series of short workshops exploring the different facets of puppet productions, and a puppet playwriting course.
University of Winnipeg B.A. , Graduated in 2006
Majors in English and Philosophy, included several theatrical courses in theatrical design and drafting with David Hewlett, costuming with Lorraine O'Leary, playwriting with Per Brask, and acting with Hope McIntyre.
Prairie Theatre Exchange Puppetry Courses with Shawn Kettner
My first exposure to puppetry, I learned the basic principles of writing and producing a show, how to carve foam rubber, sew puppet bodies, use a glue gun, and mix paint. I went on to act as assistant teacher for this class.
Curse of the Sun-Plant, Puppet Apocalypse
This was a short play made in a month to appear at Puppet Apocalypse, Winnipeg's first puppet slam. It featured five marionettes that I had already built, three puppeteers (including me), and live ambient music. A local stop-motion artist, Emily Baxter, helped to build a growing plant puppet and called the lights for the show.
The Aethernomicon, Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2008.
The play I wrote for this show was inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and Donald Tyson’s Necronomicon. I developed and built 13 marionettes to perform the hour-long piece, and employed four puppeteers, a musician, a carpenter, a seamstress, a stage hand and a stage manager. I received a $2000 grant from the Winnipeg Arts Council to help complete this production.
The Clock in the Lobby, Winnipeg Fringe Festival 2007.
I wrote, directed, and constructed almost every part of this play, which was a murder mystery involving eleven puppets, a fifteen foot stage, four puppeteers, two stagehands, and a live pianist. The puppeteers included Shannon Guile of Foolish Wit and Hot Thespian Action, and Jason Hooper who produced the Spence street radio play, "At the Monarch's Convenience." The Clock in the Lobby ran to one hour, and received the Best of the Fest award, as well as being short listed for the Harry S. Rintoul award. It also received the Jenny award for puppetry.
The Lost Tales of the Brothers Grimm, early spring 2006.
This was a series produced by Trinity Television. I worked as the Marionette consultant on this production, advising the producer about the means of constructing marionettes and training puppeteers in their use.
Printed in Juice, the creative writing journal of the University of Winnipeg, this was my first attempt at writing a puppet play. It was the first play ever to be printed in Juice, and I have since been assured that nothing as long as it will ever be printed in Juice again.
Individial Artist Grant:
This is a yearly grant from the Winnipeg Arts Council. I was given $2000 to help pay for the production of The Aethernomicon.
Art City, August 2010
I was invited to come and volunteer at Art City during a three-day marionette workshop. I helped neighbourhood children to plan and build marionettes, and built my own marionette from the materials provided.
The Young Artists Program, July 2010
Every year the Winnipeg Folk Festival runs a studio class where students aged 14-18 build a themed installation for the festival grounds. The theme for this year was “Cirque du Folk,” and I was called in as a guest artist to show the students the puppets that I had made and to talk about my construction methods. I went on to act as puppet advisor, helping the students solve construction problems that came up throughout the week.
Learning Through The Arts, spring 2007.
This is a program of The Royal Conservatory of Music where artists are brought into grade schools to teach students about the curriculum with their art. I taught about a hundred kindergarteners in several classes about trees and animals with simple marionettes that they built.
PTE Puppetry classes, 1995-1996 season.
I was assistant teacher in the two Saturday morning classes offered at the Prairie Theatre Exchange. I helped children aged 8-12 to plan puppet shows, build puppets, use the sewing machine and glue gun, and perform for their parents at the end of the season.
Contact Asa by e-mail by clicking HERE.