Northbarn Theatre bicycle puppet circus searching for venue in New Glasgow | Arts & Entertainment Leave a comment

Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson are the two-person crew of a bicycle puppet circus hoping to make a stop in New Glasgow.

Northbarn Theatre has been travelling across the province, performing for audiences from August to September.

The team usually travels a maximum of 40 kilometres per day on bicycles, staying with inviting hosts or tents out with the camping gear they travel with.

They are seeking an outdoor venue space willing to accommodate a group of people in New Glasgow on Sept. 23.

“Some of the places we’ve been don’t have a theatre per say; what’s available to them is a park or field,” said Stinson.

“Yesterday we performed in a field, and it was beautiful, beautiful back drop, lots of space for kids to run around, it was pretty great,” added McFarlane.

The plot of the puppet show, Troubling Joy, is enticing to adult and child audiences.

“It’s investigating happiness, and its promises and illusions, so we see a cast of characters that are puppets; they’re animals, and they’re within the format of a circus,” said McFarlane.

“They’ve been trained to do various tricks, that are not necessarily what they want to be doing, and they discover ways of finding pleasure by breaking the rules.”

The group also has done collaborations with musicians that liven the performance.

“We had a wonderful man from Halifax, Gary Williams, come down to Antigonish and work with us to compose these tunes and songs, and music to accompany the songs, which really made into a lively show,” said Stinson.

The two originally designed the show for adult audiences but it has since evolved into a show for all ages.

“As we tell people about the show, we sort of make the point of saying, ‘well, it’s for everybody, it’s not just for the kids’ as many puppet shows are marketed as, it’s for everyone from five years old to 55 years old, so, there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” said McFarlane.

The group aims to bring the theatre to towns that have limited opportunity for it, trying their best to avoid admission fees.

“How special it is to do it for a small audience of folks who don’t have access normally, to theatre, and trying to keep it as much as possible admission by donation; no one turned away for lack of funds,” said Stinson.

“We’re really just interested in bringing theatre to places where it wouldn’t be otherwise. And I think we’re pretty proud of this little show, it’s quite fun, it’s very kind of circus, lively, music, and it kind of has this fun, rebellious turn, where it’s not all about the circus, it’s all about the characters that are in the circus.”

“And looking after each other, collaborating,” added McFarlane.

If you have, or know of, a place for the bicycle puppet show, contact Northbarn Theatre at 902-318-6369 or

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