Lanterns, Puppets, and Jack: Workshops and more to celebrate the Lantern Festivals 15th year

by Lauren Power

The Lantern Festival in Victoria Park is always one of the highlights of summer in St. John’s. This year, as part of the Lantern Festival’s 15th anniversary festivities, coordinators are planning to do something they’ve never done before: stage an illuminated puppet show, and anybody can lend a hand in making it happen through a series of three workshops in May and June.

The work will premiere on July 25th at the annual Lantern Festival, in collaboration with percussion ensemble The Scruncheons and storytellers, Mary Fearon and Andy Jones.

The show will be an adaptation of “Jack and the World’s End Water”, a Jack tale. Jack tales are stories based around Jack, the archetypal roguish stock character, generally portrayed as a cunning young man (“Jack and the Beanstalk”, “Jack Frost”, “Jack the Giant Killer”, and “Little Jack Horner” are all Jack tales).

“There is a long history of Jack tales in Newfoundland that are part of the tradition of oral storytelling in the province,” says storyteller Mary Fearon. “Jack came to Newfoundland with the first settlers and Jack has evolved to reflect the places he settled in and the people who told his stories.”

“They illuminate the finer aspect of Newfoundlanders, to take on the giants of the world, get a bag of gold, marry the beautiful princess and have babies by the basketsful,” she says. “There are a number of storytellers using the Jack tales in a variety of art mediums including: spoken word, puppetry, song and dance.”

The particular story Fearon and Jones retold is the story of a king who has three sons, Tom, Bill and Jack. The king falls ill and can only be cured by the water at the end of the world.

“I’ve been working with them so far and it’s wonderful,” says collaborating artist Ruth Lawrence. “I’m helping the Lantern Festival promote it and the first stage of the work is a Puppetry Building Workshop they have in the works for late May and early June.”

 Artists, educators, filmmakers, performers, and storytellers are invited to take part in this unique training opportunity, which will examine puppet articulation, mask, story devising, and large-scale puppet designs aimed at creating the foundation for a new work of spectacle-theatre.


The workshops will be lead by Pia Banzhaf (Odd Puppet Collective), David Lane (Old Trout Puppet Workshop), and Kathleen Parewick (Lantern Festival Performer and Organizer), and offered by the Friends of Victoria Park and the 2015 St. John’s Lantern Festival.


Puppet Prototyping & Design Workshop: Minis, Maquettes & Imaginative Makhana

Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31, 10 am – 5pm

Working on small-scale maquettes, participants will prototype designs that will be the models for larger puppets built on the following weekend. Paper, tape, glue and reed will transform into the models for flocks of birds, water creatures, and the famous Portuguese White Fleet, the ships of which would, at one time, fill St. John’s harbour.


Performance Workshop

Monday June 1 to Friday, June 5,  6pm – 9 pm

Beginning with a reading of Mary Fearon and Andy Jones’ adaptation of “Jack and the World’s End Water,” participants will take part in preliminary workshopping and creation labs based on the material. Exercises in mask and puppetry techniques will complement work in narrative development and ensemble building.


Large Scale Puppet Construction Workshop

Saturday June 6 and Sunday June 7, 10am to 5pm

Small maquettes will be converted into large-scale construction projects.  All workshop participants are invited to join the membership of The Newfoundland Puppet Collective, which will continue construction, rehearsal and performance of the project in July.

The Newfoundland Puppet Collective is a group of visual artists, performers, storytellers, educators, and puppeteers devoted to the practice of puppetry arts within the unique and distinct cultural environment of the province. This will be their first major project.

Fee for each workshop is $150 ($275 for all three). To register, contact Kathleen Parewick at, or contact Newfoundland Puppet Collective on Facebook.