The Lakes District Arts Council’s (LDAC) John and Sandra Barth invited artist Kellie Haines to perform for kids in the community through a visual performance, as an alternative to having her come down to the community after the Fall Fair was cancelled.
The Arts Council and the Lakes District Fall Fair Association had planned a project with Vancouver-based puppeteer and ventriloquist, Kellie Haines. Haines was all set to perform in local schools and at the Fall Fair in September 2020 however with COVID restrictions and cancellations, a new plan to bring Haines’ art to the kids in the Burns Lake area was developed.
“When we put the idea of a video performance to Kellie Haines, after thinking about it a bit, Kellie saw an opportunity to keep connected to students and schools during the time she can’t tour in schools. So we started discussing via e-mail and phone calls what Kellie would put in the video, and how we would try to get local schools involved. The Fall Fair Association, which has been a partner with LDAC in the Kellie Haines project from the very beginning, also was enthusiastic about the video project and has supported the video financially in partnership with the LDAC,” said the Barths in an email to Lakes District News.
The 22-minutes long video has a live Kellie Haines performance. The video features Haines’ puppet Magrau the bird and Haines ‘talking together’ about her story as a young performer, her development as an artist, and a big challenge Kellie had to overcome; outdoor shots of Magrau and another puppet character Camilla. It also has Haines teaching a bit about puppetry and ventriloquism, and giving kids a chance to practice; gentle messages about worry, Covid, and the challenge and importance of differences; and her motto: ‘Never Give Up’.
Kellie Haines, who is originally from Wainfleet, Ontario, grew up on a farm and with a “lot of energy” according to the artist. She later discovered that she had Tourette syndrome, a nervous system disorder. She decided to put all her excess energy and her creative energy in plays and in puppetry.
“My work is all about laughter, it is all about feeling good about yourself and has messages of empowering kids, empowering people to be themselves but the main thing is when you see the show, you forget about all the messages because they just come so naturally and you are really just laughing; you are laughing at Magrau the bird, the frog, all the shenanigans that happen and that’s what it is about; I represent fun for me and for the community,” said Haines.
The LDAC has already shared Haines’ video with three local schools and a local pre-school.
“This is the first time that I have been able to do a video with someone from the community saying — here are some funds, you create what you want with a stage manager — and it felt good but I do miss the in-person shows and I can’t wait to come to your community in Burns Lake when all this is behind us,” said Haines who plans to come to Burns Lake when restrictions on travel and events is lifted.