Judd Palmer (BA 1995 Trinity) heads the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, a troupe in Calgary that creates dark, peculiar puppet shows. The Trouts’ newest production, Jabberwocky, takes place at a surreal crossroads between the real world and Lewis Carroll’s work, says Palmer. The play draws on inspiration from Carroll’s poem of the same title: Pa, Ma and Son (right) are monster slayers seeking to destroy the Jabberwock. On the way, they encounter many strange creatures, from the Bandersnatch to the Jubjub Bird.
Palmer, who studied philosophy, points out that the creatures speak to our deepest fears: “It’s about the existential monsters that keep us up at night, staring at the ceiling – harder to slay than your regular monsters.”
The set design was inspired by two Victorian conventions: miniature cardboard toy theatres found in many 19th-century drawing rooms, and moveable panoramas (scrolling canvas backdrops). And Carroll’s poem, one of the most renowned examples of total gibberish in the English language, allowed the Trouts to be creative in adapting it for the stage. “It conjures more questions than answers – which is to say that it’s equal parts ridiculous and mysterious,” says Palmer.
After performing throughout western Canada, the Trouts will start touring Jabberwocky in Europe in May.
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre