Our Great Guests

Watch out for that bear!

One of the greatest joy of Snippets of Canada 150 was working with so many wonderful guests! Thanks to all of you for joining in the fun.

Guest Readers
Andrew Leslie is the Member of Parliament for Orleans.
Pamela Sweet, Steven Begg, Kathy Fisher and are OPL Board Trustees.
Marianne Wilkinson is the City Councillor for Ward 4 –Kanata North

Penelope Gould and Josephine Norton are Friends of the Ottawa Public Library volunteers.

Margaret Kirkpatrick, Catherine Seaman, Evelyn Housch, Anna Basile, Shannon MacGilvray, Kristina Roudiy, Kirsten Partanen, Heather Ashe and Valerie Jorgenson are OPL staff.

Professional Artist Readers
John Koensgen, has acted in more than 100 plays, and many films. Since 2006, he is the Artistic Director of New Theatre of Ottawa. In 2001, he received the Ottawa Critics Circle Award for Contribution to English Theatre.

Kate Smith is a well-known local actor currently touring her play Hootenanny to Fringe festivals across Canada. She is also the Artistic Director of the Acting Company and Director of Skeleton Key Theatre.

David daCosta is an actor and musician, who will be seen this summer in Bear and Co’s Romeo and Juliet and Rag & Bone’s A World of Stories at Odyssey.

Brittany Johnston is a young indigenous actor, dancer, and theatre administrator currently getting her MA in theatre from U Ottawa.

Jacqui Du Toit is an international theatrical and movement storyteller from Kimberley, South Africa. Since graduating from the University of Cape Town with a BA in Theatre and Performance in 2005, Jacqui has worked extensively as a professional actress, storyteller and dancer for the past 10 years.

Our last show! Thanks to Sherry Stevens at Centennial Branch.

Snippets Set List

Brittany Johnston gets her hat back!

Here’s the flexible lineup for Snippets of Canada 150. We add and subtract depending on the library, the guest reader, and the audience response.

  • Russell sings a song.

Kathy: Hello everyone and welcome to Snippets of Canada 150, a collection of songs and stories celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday.

We are Rag and Bone Puppet Theatre: Kathy, John, Russell and guests.

We want to thank all the librarians across Ottawa who suggested books and songs for this event. There were lots of ideas for books about animals.

In the end, we decided that we should start off with a book about a moose. A big moose, because Canada is so big. And moose live all across it.

  • Guest: Ernest by Catherine Rayner.
  • Russell sings a song.

Kathy: And now, a book about a bear and other animals.

  • Guest: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Kathy: The First Nations were the first people in Canada, and one of our favourite Rag & Bone shows is A Promise is A Promise. And this is how that story begins.

  • Guest: A Promise is a Promise by Robert Munsch and Michael Kusugak

Kathy: Some of the first newcomers to Canada came from France, and here’s a song they sang.

  • Song: Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser

Kathy: And here’s a story about some French-Canadian trappers, from a book called The Talking Cat by Natalie Savage Carlson. It’s one story in a show we do called The Flying Canoe.

  • John, Kathy & Russell: The Bear in the Canoe

Kathy: Jean Marc and René were also loggers.

  • Russell sings a song.

Kathy: Then there were farmers and settlers, and there are always new people coming to Canada, and this next story is from another Rag & Bone show called Felicity Falls. It’s about learning to get along and work together to build a great place to live, like Canada.

  • John & Kathy: Felicity Falls

Kathy: And here’s a song that celebrates farming, and one of our most famous vegetables.

  • Russell sings a song

Kathy: We’ve celebrated Canada’s animals, people and vegetables, but what about our birds? We have lots of birds in Canada. They all have different personalities. The next story is about one that is Grumpy.

  • Guest: Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard
  • Russell sings a song.

Scavenging for Snippets

Am I grumpy enough?

Presenting the stories – with puppets, props and playing around!

We’ve narrowed down the list of books and songs for Snippets of Canada 150, our series of staged readings, and now it’s time to think about how we’re going to present the stories. How can we get these characters to jump off the page and come to life? What kind of voices do they have? What puppets, props, masks or hats do we have? What can we make, buy or borrow?

Let the scavenger hunt begin!

In the house, we found a big sheet of paper, a white cloth, a sock snake, a rabbit mask, and some stuffed toy puppets, including a snake, a loon, a duck, 2 cows, a pig, a beaver, a moose, a bat, and a rabbit. Also some paint, flexi-firm, and a hoodie for the Grumpy Bird.

In the garage, we went through the boxes that contain props from various shows:

Felicity Falls: backdrop, table cloth, table, Rod Rabbit, kitchen, mini puppets, water can & tub, fabrics, branch, pillow, kalimba, houses

The Last Polar Bears: Sheep, slide whistle;

A Promise is A Promise: Qallupiluit mask, Allashua mini puppet, blue pillow; rainstick

The Flying Canoe: Limberjacks, board, step stool, René hat, moustache, puppet; J-M hat & puppet, Canoe, Bear mask, water sprayer

Our good friends at OYPTS loaned us: Antlers, skunk ears, frog hoodie, potatoes

And we made: a mask for Grumpy Bird, consisting of a hoodie with hand painted feathers, and a beak sewn onto a pair of glasses.

We spent a lot of time rehearsing, just the two of us, and then with Russell. We figured out how to use each puppet or prop, rejected some, found others, and then rehearsed with the music.

Now, to get all those props organized for the presentations!

We decided that we needed a backdrop (to run around for those bear chases!), a table, and some chairs for our guests.

Under the table are four large bags, and each one contains a book and all the props we need for that story:

A Promise is a Promise, Hat, Ernest, Grumpy Bird.

Backstage: All the props for The Flying Canoe; tambourine, vibraslap, Limberjacks, board, siren

Leaning on the backdrop, behind the table: everything we need for “How the animals came to live in Felicity Falls.”

On the guest chairs: extra copies of the books.

And we’re all set for Snippets of Canada 150!

Snippets of Drama

Here’s the outline of the drama workshop we’ve been conducting with children as part of Snippets:
“Drama is pretending, acting things out, using your imagination to show things to an audience.”

To get our bodies, our voices and our imaginations ready to go.

The children repeat this magic poem:
Ish ka bibble bobble boo
Close your eyes I’ll magic you
There is nothing you can’t do!

Now children open their eyes and magic themselves into trees—the tallest trees in Canada, stretching up to the sky, bending a little in the breeze and now shrinking—becoming smaller trees, then seeds, then porcupines, icebergs, etc.

Ish ka bibble bobble bee
I look down and I can see
Now I’m magicked back to me.

Soldier Doll or Rag doll
The whole body is stiff and tall and still like a soldier. Then one part at a time becomes like a rag doll: floppy head, one floppy arm, then the other arm, one floppy leg, then the other leg. Add sound effects—a resonant hum to head rotations, rotations from the waist, rotations from the hips.

Tongue twisters
Red leather, yellow leather.
Toy boat, toy boat.
Rubber baby buggy bumpers, etc.

Now our bodies and our voices are warmed up, let’s try some poems.
Say one line at a time, with actions. The children repeat each line and action. Then try saying the poem again, this time like a tiny mouse or a giant ogre.

I made myself a snowball as round as it could be
I thought, I’ll keep this as a pet and let it sleep with me
I sewed it some pyjamas and a pillow for its head
But late last night it ran away
And first it wet the bed.
(Shel Silverstein)

Nursery rhyme mimes
Brainstorm the titles of as many nursery rhymes the children can think of
Mime a nursery rhyme and let the children guess which one it was.

Now divide them into groups of three or four and let each group go off to plan how they can act out a nursery rhyme with no words but in a way that the rest of the group can guess which one they’re doing.

Each group acts their rhyme silently, and the rest of the group guesses what it was. Then the group repeats their mime, only this time, the rest of the class says the words.

When you make a machine in drama, every person in the group has to have an action and a sound that repeat. The people making the machine have to somehow be connected. We don’t show people using the machine, just the machine going on and on all by itself. No video games,TV’s or computers. It should be a normal machine that we’ve all heard of so that we can guess what it is: something at home, at school, at a construction site, etc.

We demonstrate a machine to the group. Then the groups go off and plan their machines. Popular machines are: a blender, a washing machine, a car wash, a vacuum cleaner, a sprinkler, a front-end loader, or a wrecking ball.

The groups presents their actions and. Then the rest guess, and the group repeats their machine now that everyone else knows what they’re doing.

The Little Red Hen
Kathy is the storyteller and John is the little red hen. The kids are the baby chicks, who say, “cheep cheep!” and they also play cats, ducks or pigs. Divide the children into three groups and tell them their lines:

Cats: Not us, we’re cleaning our fur.

Ducks: Not us, we’re splashing in the water.

Pigs: Not us, we’re rolling in the mud.

Narrator: Once upon a time, there was a little red hen who lived with her baby chicks, who said:

Baby Chicks: Cheep cheep

Narrator: One day, she was pecking in the barnyard and she found some grains of wheat. She decided to plant the wheat but she needed some help, so she asked the cats to help her.

Little Red Hen: Will you help me plant my wheat?

Narrator: And the cats said:

Cats: Not us, we’re cleaning our fur.

Narrator: And the ducks said:

Ducks: Not us, we’re splashing in the water

Narrator: And the pigs said:

Pigs: Not us, we’re rolling in the mud.

Little Red Hen: Fine, my baby chicks and I will do it ourselves.

Narrator: And the chicks said:

Baby Chicks: Cheep cheep

Narrator: (Encouraging everyone to do the actions) So the little chicks dug a hole in the ground, put the seeds in and covered them with earth. Then they watered them, and the grains of wheat grew and grew until they were tall and golden and swaying in the breeze.

Little Red Hen: Now it’s time to cut the wheat. Who will help me cut the wheat?

Narrator: And the cats said:

Cats: Not us, we’re cleaning our fur.

Narrator: And the ducks said:

Ducks: Not us, we’re splashing in the water

Narrator: And the pigs said:

Pigs: Not us, we’re rolling in the mud

Little Red Hen: Fine, my baby chicks and I will do it ourselves.

Narrator: And the chicks said:

Baby Chicks: Cheep cheep

Narrator: (With actions) So the little red hen and the baby chicks took a scythe, which is like a long sword, and they cut the wheat and bundled it up and took it to the miller and he ground it into flour. And when they had some flour, they could make bread.

Little Red Hen: Now it’s time to cut the wheat. Who will help me bake the bread?

Narrator: And the ducks said:

Ducks: Not us, we’re splashing in the water

Narrator: And the pigs said:

Pigs: Not us, we’re rolling in the mud.

Little Red Hen: Fine, my baby chicks and I will do it ourselves.

Narrator: And the chicks said:

Baby Chicks: Cheep cheep.

So they put the flour in the mixing bowl with milk and salt and yeast and a bit of sugar and mixed it in the mixing bowl. Then they took the mixture out and kneaded it (etc.) and put it in the oven to cook. And as it cooked it smelled delicious. Then it was done. They put on oven mitts and took it out of the oven and it smelled wonderful.

Little Red Hen: Now, who will help me eat the bread?

Cats: We will!

Ducks: We will!

Pigs: We will!

Little Red Hen: You wouldn’t help me plant the seeds, you wouldn’t help me cut the wheat, you wouldn’t help me make the bread, so now, my baby chicks and I are going to eat it all by ourselves.

Narrator: And the chicks said:

Baby Chicks: Cheep cheep.

Snippets of Canada

Rag & Bone is coming to a library near you with free family events!

Snippets of Canada 150 will be a series of readings and workshops, 24 events at 19 local libraries. Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre will invite special guests to read children’s books while John, Kathy and Russell animate the stories with snippets of puppetry, masks, music and drama. The selection of books will celebrate Canada – highlighting our history, animals, and people, including First Nations and newcomers, and the event will welcome lots of audience participation.

Guest readers will include MP Andrew Leslie, OPL Trustees, staff and volunteers, and professional artists John Koensgen, Kate Smith, David daCosta, Jacqui Du Toit and Brittany Johnston.

Times, dates, locations? Click here.

Register for the workshops here, and for the performances here.

For more information and the complete schedule, visit ragandbone.ca, biblioottawalibrary.ca or neighbourhoodarts150.wordpress.com

Snippets of Canada 150 is part of AOE Arts Council’s Neighbourhood Arts 150, Celebrating Ottawa’s Communities, an official Canada 150 and Ontario 150 community-engaged arts project.

Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre has toured across Canada and the U.S. since 1978. Founders John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan are joined by musician Russell Levia in productions of exceptional creativity and value for young audiences. Over 40 performances annually in local public venues give area families an opportunity to feel inspired, creative and to spend quality time together.

Neighbourhood Arts 150 is bringing twelve of Ottawa’s most inspiring professional artists and arts groups together with neighbourhoods from all corners of Ottawa to celebrate their communities and express what it means to be Canadian. Ottawans can participate in free arts experiences, from April to October in over 20 communities outside the downtown core. Local youth, seniors, families, newcomers,

BIAs, community associations and more are taking part in artist-led activities including dance, theatre, art installations, sculptures, storytelling, puppetry, murals and more in non-traditional venues. 

Neighbourhood Arts 150 is supported by Funders: Government of Canada, Ontario 150; and Partners: Ottawa 2017, Community Foundation of Ottawa, Metroland Media, Trinity Development Foundation, the Danbe Foundation and Jewel 98.5 FM, and many community partners.

All are invited to share their Neighbourhood Arts 150 experiences by following and sharing on Facebook Twitter and Instagram: @150ArtsOttawa #150ArtsOttawa. Read artist blog posts, see project descriptions and community partners, and plan your arts experiences using the interactive calendar at www.150ArtsOttawa.ca

Snippets of Canada 150

So many books, so little time!

Canadian Books Galore!

We asked local librarians to recommend some Canadian picture books for our series of staged readings, Snippets of Canada 150. And boy, did we get some wonderful ideas – more than 50 books in all! We loved reading them, and had a hard time choosing which ones to include in our presentation. We wanted books that were funny, innovative, dramatic, not too long and, of course, Canadian. We also wanted to leave room in the presentation for songs, storytelling, and audience participation, so in the end, we couldn’t use them all. We hope our audiences will enjoy the ones we did chose, maybe borrow them from the library and read them again – and then “check out” some of the others!

Here’s the complete list of suggested authors, sorted by categories. Many authors have written several books, and they’re all available at the Ottawa Public Library!

Cute and funny books about animals
Nicholas Oldman, Jon Klassen, Melanie Watt, Jeremy Tankard, Catherine Rayner, Brenda Silsbe

First Nation stories
David Bouchard, Michael Kusugak, Susan Avingaq, Danielle Daniel, David Robertson, Rachel & Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley

Canadian scenery
Phyllis Root, Gary Paulsen, Per Henrik Gurth, Cora Taylor

Multicultural authors
Ruth Ohi, Rukhsana Khan, Aubrey Davis

Famous Canadian authors
Robert Munsch, Roch Carrier, Jean Little, Paulette Bougeois, Linda Bailey, Phoebe Gilman Barbara Reid Marie-Louise Gay

Other Canadian authors – less famous but no less interesting!
Lindsay Mattick, Ashley Spires, Annika Dunk Lee, Allan Morgan, François Tardif, Réjean, Edith Fowke

Librarians also had some music suggestions
Raffi, Sharon Lois & Bram, Carmen Campagne, Gordon Lightfoot, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Wade Hemsworth

And the books we chose? Well, here are four of our favourites:

Ernest, by Catherine Rayner
I Want my Hat Back, by Jon Klassen
A Promise is a Promise, by Michael Kusugak
Grumpy Bird, by Jeremy Tankard

We can hardly wait to share these readings at a library near you July 4–19, 2017!

Read all about Snippets of Canada 150 here. It’s part of AOE Arts Council’s Neighbourhood Arts 150.

Visiting School Choirs

Actual photo of actual children
Actual photo of actual children

Last week we dropped in on 13 school choirs – and in December we’ll visit 11 more!  Twenty-four different groups are joining us on stage at Centrepointe and Shenkman between Nov. 16 and Dec. 11. Click here for details.

Some are led by choir-director teachers with lots of experience and musical training, other have come together just for this project, but they all sang with such enthusiasm and joy that they thrilled us to bits.

We like to meet with the kids before the show to share the excitement, practice cues, and of course, answer questions:

Q: What if I forget to wear my choir clothes?

A: That’s okay, as long as you wear clothes.

Q: Can I invite my parents and grandparents and great-grand parents and great-great-grandparents?

A: Only if they’re all still alive.

Q: Is it okay if I bring my pet?

A:  NO!

Snippets of Paper

We thought people might like to see some of the some of the elements from our Snippets of Paper presentation.

Here’s Kathy telling a “fold and tell” story, The Gift:

And here’s how to fold a 16 page alphabet book out of a single sheet of paper:

If you’d like a template for the book, you can download on here.

A Dragon:
We made a paper dragon for the show, and you can make one too. Follow the pdf here.

Paper Dolls:
Of course, we couldn’t do a presentation about without some paper dolls. If you don’t know how to make them, there are instructions here.

We also showed a simple way to make a mask. It helps to have a template to position the eyes, and we have one here.

If you want to go deeper into masks, we have a booklet for you here.

Cut and tell:
Kathy learnt another “cut and tell” story here.




What is Snippets?

Careful with those scissors, kids!
Careful with those scissors, kids!

Snippets is our series of staged readings. Special guests read children’s books while we animate them with “snippets” of puppetry, drama, and music. Thanks to the Community Foundation of Ottawa, we’ve been presenting these events for free at The Irving Greenberg Centre, in partnership with GCTC, since the summer of 2014. Snippets has become so popular that we’re now able to present more than one performance of each one. In 2015, we received a grant from the ARTicipate Foundation to also repeat some of them at the Shenkman Art Centre.  In all, we’ve presented 11 readings, with the following guest artists:

Snippets of Mice and Moles, with GCTC director Eric Coates, August 2014

Snippets of Fairy Tales, with puppeteers Mat Kelly and Vic Thepmontry, September 2014

Snippets of Happy Families, with actors Nicole Milne and Chris Ralph, October 2014

Snippets of Snow, with OYPTS director Kathi Langston January 10, 2015 at GCTC

Snippets of Valentines and Velociraptors with actor Robert Bockstael, at GCTC, February 13 and 14, 2015

Snippets: Free as a Bird, with musician Russell Levia, September 12 at the SAC and September 19, 2015 at GCTC.

Snippets of Knights and Night-Time, with musician Ainsley McNeaney, October 9 and 10 2015, at GCTC and October 11, 2015 at the SAC

Why do we do Snippets?
The staged readings are a lot of fun for us. We love working with new people. We like trying out new books and stories, and sharing old favourites with new audiences. It’s great to be able to show the audience how important and fun it is for families to read books together. But Snippets is also great way for us to shake things up in our work for young people. Our own Rag & Bone shows can take two years from start to finish – writing the script, making the puppets and props, rehearsing with the music, and memorizing everything. We’re very proud of those shows, but sometimes it’s fun to throw something together in a week, and improvise. And it can be really fun to get people up from the audience to participate!

How do we find the books?
At the library, of course! Although some are our own books, or borrowed from friends. It’s usually one book that inspires the theme. The idea for Snippets of Paper came from a book about paper dolls. Then we searched the library website for books about books and paper. We thought of cutting out paper crafts, and folding paper. Our daughter, Rosemary Nolan, loves origami. And our friend Doreen Cowin, of the Child Care Provider’s Resource Network, suggested “Cut and Tell Stories”. Russell Levia, our guest, came up with songs that worked around the theme. And before we knew it, we had a show!

Where do we get all the puppets and props?
From our basement, mostly! We store all the props and puppets for our shows in our garage, but the basement is full of, well, other stuff. Puppets that people have given us. Toys from when our kids were young. Sewing supplies, woodworking supplies, costumes and hats. Also we love to find treasures at second hand stores wherever we travel. (Then we have to find a place for them in the basement . . . and remember where we put them!)

Upcoming Snippets
Snippets of Paper: 1:30 on January 10 at the SAC, and January 22 and 23 at GCTC with guest Russell Levia. Reserve your free tickets here.