Casteliers celebrates its coming of age by welcoming back puppeteers from three continents to Montreal for the 18th edition of Festival de Casteliers, which will take place from March 1 to 5, 2023. The program will feature works from Quebec, Canada, France, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Taiwan, to the delight of all, from the very young to the very old!

Hand puppets, rod puppets, objects, shadows, dummies, masks, and robotic figures, along with puppeteers, dancers, actors and musicians, will gather for this great annual rendezvous in Montreal dedicated to the 11th art.

The lineup features ten shows for adults and children, with outstanding international works as well as new creations, which will surprise as they combine old and the new, matter and gesture, sound and image, words and the unspeakable.

From Europe and Asia, four long-awaited shows will finally be presented:
ICI OU (PAS) LÀ (Collectif Label Brut, France) opens the festival on Wednesday, March 1st at Théâtre Outremont. This wordless show is the last instalment of a triptych by Laurent Fraunié that deals with the fears we face when we are growing up. Disarticulated puppets, dummies and projections take us to the confluence of the real and the imaginary, in a scenographic mise en abyme, where a character tries to find his place. Ages 8+

TCHOUTCHOU!WOUFWOUF! (Naivni Divadlo Liberec, Czech Republic) tells the story of a dog that decides to overcome his fear of the unknown and find the one he loves. Presented without words, this charming show is for toddlers, train aficionados and dog lovers! Four puppeteers handle a host of rod puppets with simplicity, humour and dexterity. They also play percussion instruments and work the railroad switches, to the great delight of an audience beguiled by the adventures of their travelling hero. Ages 3+

SIMPLE MACHINES (kwaad bloed, Belgique) will have you sitting at a large table with choreographer Ugo Dehaes. During the performance, you will see how his robots came to be, from slimy cocoons to gleaming machines. Witness the know-how required to give them enough artificial intelligence to create and produce their own show! Simple Machines marks the beginning of an era in which robotic objects will be competing for your attention and trying to experience emotions that were once the reserve of living dancers. Welcome to your future! Ages 7+

From Asia, LA POTION DE RÉINCARNATION (Jin Kwei Lo Puppet Theatre Company, Taiwan) offers a rare opportunity to discover the beauty and expressiveness of Taiwanese Bo De Hi hand puppetry, through the retelling of an ancient myth. While respecting the architecture of traditional performances, the show challenges preconceived notions about this age-old art form through its resolutely contemporary form. In Taiwanese with French surtitles. Ages 13+

Every year, Festival de Casteliers gives pride of place to works from Québec, and in 2023 will feature six new creations, including four premieres.

LES VEUVES PARALLÈLES (Claudine Rivest, Trois-Rivières) paints a dreamlike portrait of a family that is both terrifying and banal. Through the story of Amanda, who was mute during the last 18 years of her life, this work examines how memory is passed along between women of different generations. Drifting between reality and imagination, the dining room table serves as a theatre where the past resurfaces. PREMIERE. Ages 13+

VERTIP (Scapegoat Carnivale, Montréal) is inspired by “Vertep”, a 17th-century Slavic puppet theatre that depicts nativity scenes with ethnically diverse protagonists. It tells the story of a penniless puppeteer. He lives in the basement of a community centre in Montréal’s Mile End neighbourhood, where he presents the annual Christmas puppet show. Vertip is a tragicomedy that uses the anti-Semitic symbols found in European folklore to raise questions about what to do with problematic traditions. PREMIERE. Ages 10+

SEUILS (Théâtre Incliné, Laval) is inspired by the stories of three writers ─ Marie-Louise Bibish Mumbu, Julie Vincent and Marie-Hélène Larose-Truchon. It is a living fresco of a neighbourhood, made up of murmurs and movements. An interdisciplinary work where dance, theatre and skateboarding meet and push the boundaries of artistic expression. PREMIERE. Ages 13+

PYTHAGORAS’ TOOLKIT (Ensemble Paramirabo, Montréal) introduces a young modern-day philosopher who discovers sounds and music through surreal, amusing and even danceable experiments, alongside the musicians of Ensemble Paramirabo. PREMIERE. Ages 3+.

THE KING STINKS (Surreal SoReal Theatre, Montréal) returns to the Infinitheatre stage, to the delight of all who love satire! Our last president was a real stinker. But this one will blow away his failures like dried crap in the wind! Wacky objects and frenzied performances characterize this clever, tongue-in-cheek performance, created in 2021. Ages 13+

MUTATIS MUTANDIS! (Laurence Petitpas, Québec) draws us into the fascinating and little-known world of the abyss, exploring the permeability between worlds, and cultivating the ambiguity between natural and artificial textures, the dreamlike and the domestic, the living and the non-living. Closing show for all audiences, Sunday, March 5th at Théâtre Outremont. Ages 7+

In addition to the live performances, CINÉ-CASTELIERS presents six short films, three of which use stop motion animation to explore the theme of puppetry and robotics, from Germany, France, and Halifax (selected in partnership with Festival Stop Motion Montréal), and three new creations by Montreal film directors and puppeteers Émile Racine, Olivia Faye Lathuillière, Olivier Ducas, and Francis Monty.

For more information and to purchase your tickets visit: www.festival.casteliers.ca

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