Maritime Marionettes, founded by puppeteers Heather and Darryll Taylor, have entertained audiences in Canada and abroad, performing in English or French, since 1986. They have travelled in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America with their stringed creations, giving their audiences an opportunity to see a unique and ancient art brought to life at the hands of two gifted puppeteers.The company creates its productions from concept to finished product. This includes making and fashioning the marionette figures that feature in the shows, to the sets, props and costuming of the productions.
Heather and Darryll began working together in 1984 with the Kids’ Express Puppet Troupe, Halifax NS. Then, after a full season of apprenticeship and touring with David Syrotiak’s National Marionette Theatre (Pennsylvania) the Taylors began their company, Maritime Marionettes, based in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Read a selection of Reviews, Evaluations & Recommendations.
|2019||World on a String - Variety concert|
|2018||Red Riding Hood (remount)|
|2017||Goldilocks and the Three Bears (remount)|
|2011||Jack and the Beanstalk|
|2010||The Nativity Story|
|2008||The Bremen Town Musicians|
|2006||The Lonely Leprechaun|
|1997||Land of the Little People|
|1993||Molly and the Oak Island Treasure|
|1989||The Greatest Little Show|
|1988||Red Riding Hood|
|1986||Goldilocks and the Three Bears|
|1984||Heather Bishop's Solo Variety Show|
Heather Bishop Taylor’s passion for creating marionette shows began at the young age of ten. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in French at Acadia University, she went on to study theatre at Dalhousie University and the Foundation year at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She also studied violin for seven years, and blends her love of music, theatre and French with her love of marionettes. Heather designs the marionettes, backdrops and many of the costumes. She has led puppet making workshops for all ages and occasions, and is an accomplished puppeteer, marionette designer and producer of marionette theatre.
Darryll Murray Taylor began working with marionettes following several years of work with hand and rod puppetry. He is an excellent marionette performer, conveying both strength and nuance through the puppets. He is the principal writer for the shows, whether retelling a traditional tale or creating original stories.
All productions combine local folklore with fantasy in a musical marionette play. Darryll builds the marionette figures and props from basswood, and his artistic vision is key in the mounting of the company productions from concept to the final performance.
Maritime Marionettes Career Highlights
- World Puppetry Festival, Charleville-Mézières, France
- Flushing Town Hall NY, USA
- Salt Lake City, Puppetry Festival USA
- Hsin Kang Children’s Arts Festival, Taiwan
- MONACO, Dance forum
- Dubai, Festival of Dolls
- Lubbock Texas Symphony Orchestra, USA
- Children’s Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Kidfest, Bermuda
- Concert with Québec Orchestre Symphonique PQ
- Festival for Young Children Montréal, PQ
- Puppet Festival, Almonte ON
- Tours of the Yukon Territory
- Tour of NWT: Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith
- Festival of Puppetry, Jonquière, PQ
- Spectrum Fest. Medicine Hat, AB
- Port Moody Art’s Festival, BC
- Film – “The Conclave”
- Tours of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Tours of Alberta and B.C.
- Tours of Saskatchewan and BC
- Tours of New Brunswick Children’s Series
- Evergreen Cultural Centre, BC
- Ontario Children’s Series: Dryden, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Nipigon, Thunder Bay, Terrace Bay, Timmons, Iroquois Falls, Sault Ste. Marie, Geraldton, Red Rock, Sudbury, North Bay, Cochrane, Kapuskasing, Atikokan, Ottawa, Trenton, Huntsville, Belleville, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Milton
- International Children’s Festivals: Peterborough ON, London ON, Calgary, Halifax, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Prince George
Atlantic Canadian Highlights
- Stan Rogers Folk Festival
- Deep Roots, Wolfville NS
- Tall Ships: Lunenburg, Dartmouth
- G7 summit Halifax
- Chinese New Year Banquet, FLK Tai Chi, Halifax
- Exhibitions: Maritime, NSPE, Bridgewater, Fredericton, Queens
- Canada Day: Bible Hill, Sydney
- Christkindle Market, Alderney Landing
- NS Bluegrass Festival
- Caledonia Orchestra Show
- G. Bell Museum, Baddeck
- Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival
- New Glasgow Jubilee
- Chocolate Festival, St. Stephen’s NB
- Sussex Balloon fiesta
- Festivals Acadiens: Caraquet, Tracadie, Clare
- Festival Antigonish
- Antigonish Highland Games
- Women’s Institutes of NS, Truro
- Ship’s Company Theatre
- Alderney Landing Theatre, HRM
- Marigold Theatre, Truro, NS
- Chester Playhouse, NS
- Savoy Theatre NS
- Boardmore Playhouse, Sydney
- Harbourfront Theatre, Summerside
- Tours of Atlantic Canadian Theatres
Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of questions we are often asked at schools and performances.
Q: How did you get started?
I became interested in marionettes when I was 11 years old after seeing a live marionette show of Pinocchio. I felt inspired and immediately found books on marionettes so I could make them and put on shows with my friends. I was also inspired by the marionettes in the movie The Sound of Music. I put on shows with four friends from my neighbourhood for several years. After that exciting start I continued with a solo show until I met Darryll and we began ‘Maritime Marionettes’.
Heather introduced me to this form of puppetry and it was her enthusiasm for it that first caught my interest. Later, I was really amazed with the marionette performance, Peter and the Wolf, presented by David Syrotiak’s National Marionette Theatre. I saw how lucky Heather and I were to be able to apprentice in his company and learn about this art form.
Q: When did you start Maritime Marionettes?
We founded Maritime Marionettes in 1986. In 1985 we we apprenticed with David Syrotiaks’ National Marionette Theater in Hartford Connecticut, USA., where we learned to build and perform shows.
Q: How do you make the lights work?
The lights are controlled by a lighting board positioned on the stage within easy reach of the puppeteers. During the performance the puppeteers can fade the lights up or down for each scene.
Q: How long does it take to make a marionette?
It takes us three weeks to make one 2 foot high wooden marionette. Complete with costume and strings.
Q: When are you coming back?
We tour each show many places which takes a lot of time. Usually we return with a new show every two years, and some places we visit once every 5 years.
Q: Where do you get the puppets?
We make all the puppets in our studio in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada.
Q: Where do the voices come from?
Professional actors do the voices for the puppets. First the voices are digitally recorded in a sound studio. Then we add the sound effects and music to make the sound track. During the performance the soundtrack is played through speakers in front of the stage.
Q: Is it fun being a puppeteer?
Heather and Darryll
Yes it is fun! We love so many things about being puppeteers. We especially like making the marionettes come to life with realistic movements. We also like traveling to interesting places to perform shows. Another fun thing is making the marionettes.
Q: How long does it take to learn?
Learning to work a marionette is a lot like learning to play a musical instrument or learning to play a new sport. The longer you practice the more skilled you become.
Rehearsing a new show can take up to three weeks. Generally, we need 3 hours to work on each minute of the performance.
Q: What are the marionettes made of?
We make our marionettes bodies and limbs from basswood. Their heads are made of plastic or fibreglass and their hands are wooden or plastic. Marionettes can be made from many different materials including cloth or doweling.
Q: How do you make the rocks?
The rocks are made of styrofoam which is then covered in cotton cloth soaked in white glue. When this dries it is very hard and light and we can paint it to look real.
Q: How do you make the fire?
The fire is made with a light bulb, called a flicker bulb which we purchase at the hardware store.
Q: How does the cat stay up in the air when the puppeteers aren’t holding it?
We hang the control on a long black rod that comes up from the table. This rod is very hard to see from a distance.
Q: How do you make them look so real?
When we move the puppets we think about how a real person would move when they walk, sit down or kneel. We also think about how old or young the character is, and if the character is happy or angry or sad. We practice with a video camera and sometimes with a mirror so we can see how the movements read from the audience.