Hi, my name is Sharon and I have been puppeting with TAP since September, 2013! As a retired Social Worker (I currently volunteer with special needs children at Holland Bloorview) who happens to have a background in theatre, both on and off the stage, this could not be a more perfect mix for me! Where else could I make new friends (the humans as well as the puppets!), gain a fresh approach to drama, think outside the box, strengthen my creativity, as well as enhance my special needs counseling experiences? Performing workshops with puppets on social issues such as anti-bullying; being a good friend; accepting other’s differences; as well as on disabilities and mental health and awareness issues; is not the only rewarding part – it’s the magic that happens when the children converse with the puppets at the end of every show, and the realization that we are helping to create kinder, more inclusive communities! And, let’s not forget about the hugs and high 5’s we get…….I mean the puppets get…….of course!! That’s the coolest part!
Hello! My name is Biljana Karadzic. Maybe my name sounds like a tongue twister, but that’s because I’m from Serbia. I moved to Toronto two years ago, and I became a member of TAP this fall. By trade, I am a drama artist, a great housewife and mother of two boys. My older son likes to talk to the puppets and my younger son is the same size as the puppets!
I’m very excited to be part of this group, whose mission is to use puppets to teach children tolerance, kindness, understanding, goodness and how wonderful it is that we are all different yet in essence we are all the same, eager for love, attention, and acceptance. I am very grateful for the opportunity to teach and play with puppets, children and a wonderful team of associates. I am eagerly awaiting new adventures.
Jennifer van der Put
I love the magic of puppetry. I still remember the first time I saw ‘Animal’ go to town on his drum set and that distinctive pan flute followed by a deep, deep voice inviting me to “Look up, look way up”. I grew up with all of them, from Mr. Dress-up and The Friendly Giant to Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock. Puppets were my first friends. No surprise that when an opportunity came my way at age 15 to be a puppeteer for a summer, I did not hesitate and toured with Kids on the Block, educating school children on physical disabilities. The awe, wonder and attention that children display with puppets makes it the perfect educational tool. Although my career took me in a different direction I have always had an affinity for all things related to puppets. So after a 35 year hiatus I am back puppeteering and love being part of the magic!
Hello! My name is Richard Solomon and I recently started puppeteering with TAP. Having an educational background in theatre and music performance, it’s great fun being the personalities of the different puppets and seeing the children become enthralled with the words and gestures of these lifelike puppets. After retiring from a career of leading charitable organizations in support of vulnerable children, it is rewarding to continue bringing awareness to kids regarding anti-bullying and mental wellness by volunteering with TAP. The organization’s mission is critical – educating children about diversity, social inclusion and acceptance. Bringing these values to kids in an entertaining and magical way truly makes TAP a success story. I am proud to be part of the wonderful team at TAP.
Hello! Volunteering for TAP has been an integral part of my teaching practice (OCT#663329). I enjoy presenting topics such as cerebral palsy, friendship, autism, and mental health, with my fellow puppeteers. Puppeteering is challenging because it requires empathy, imagination, and critical thinking. Stepping into someone else’s, including a puppet’s, shoes reveals “that man’s body is not a space that ensures the indisputability of his I, but right where man (and together with him, anthropocentrism) finds himself contested” (The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance, 2014). This body-space, simultaneously unstable and ontologically exciting, creates that magical moment when children forget about the manipulators’ presence and talk freely with, even hug, their new puppet friends.
Hello my name is Gordon. Kids may remember me as Jason “the dinosaur expert”. Ever since I started performing with TAP I’ve experienced the most wonderful moments of my life. It’s a family where I can be myself and let go of all my worries. Every time we perform, I watch in awe as my fellow puppeteers add their own spin and flavour to the character they are playing. No workshop we do is ever the same and that’s something I’m always look forward to.
Retired but still breathing educator, desperately seeking outlet for the hidden performer within. Looking for ways to connect. Found TAP and fell in love with Vanessa, Jason, Lise, Tara, etc. and all the hands and hearts that stand behind them and breathe life into them. Now, proudly, passionately perform with puppet buddies. Providing such valuable learning in such a wonderful way is both fulfillment and a joy.
Hi I’m Sylvia Segal. It’s the kids’ reaction to our performances and our puppets that keeps me coming back each year-since 2005! To them our puppets are ‘real’ kids just like them. From the young boy who stuck his face into our puppet’s mouth to repeat his question, to the star struck grade 1’s who ask our puppets for an autograph! They keep me smiling!
HI! My name is Denise. I have been a puppeteer since 2009. Realizing the ability we have to reach out and actively engage young minds led me to volunteer with TAP. Using puppets as a live medium gives us the ability to present programs, in an entertaining, yet informative environment. I believe acceptance is gained through knowledge. This program empowers kids to take action and make change. What could be more inspiring? I love what I do!
Hi! My name is Enosh. I joined TAP in 2014, and I’ve been a puppeteer ever since. It’s been an amazing journey learning puppetry skills that allow me to interact with and educate children in ways I couldn’t have imagined before. I remember kids lining up after a workshop to shake hands with the puppet on my hand as if I were absent. The wonder in their eyes tells me that puppetry as an art form that still fascinates the imagination of children in the digital age.
As a newly retired teacher who has worked with children of various exceptionalities, TAP is the perfect medium for me to continue educating both children and adults about the importance of tolerance, empathy and understanding. Not only is it rewarding watching the children become totally engaged with the puppets, but being a puppeteer is also fun. Twenty years ago, as a grade two teacher, I watched a performance and I knew it was something I wanted to do when I had some free time. With the support of the other puppeteers, my first year with TAP has been extremely enjoyable and rewarding.
HI I’m Gayle Zack. When I was a teacher, I used puppets to connect with my behavioural students. I changed my career but decided that once I retired I would pursue puppetry. I have been a puppeteer with TAP for over six years and I have learned a lot. Once, the black table cloth that covers the table to hide our puppets, slid off of the table exposing everyone lying on their backs! The kids howled and we could not stop smiling even though we looked very silly!
Hello, my name is Shuyuan, I have been a volunteer puppeteer for 3 years. It has been a lovely experience for me. As a retiree, my life is full of richness ever, I learned so much through TAP. Each workshop is a challenge for me, yet I love the challenges, the questions, the smiling, the curiosity and fun. I remembered in the first show I worked with the puppet, Jack Cooper in X-men Rule of Hydrocephalus , I was supposed to say “Hey Andrew !” to greet puppet Andrew , instead I said “Hey Jack”, that moment, I laughed to myself: “oo…h, today is an opposite day isn’t it” ? Yes, children laugh so do puppeteers. This year I am looking forward to be as Jason in Lisasaurus Rex of Bullies. Teaching awareness of disabilities through puppetry is definitely a lovely and fulfilling experience!
I love the shows, the scripts and puppets, and the interaction with the kids. It is amazing how effective the shows are, how quickly and deeply children understand and empathize with the condition presented. I also love the team, the creativity, dedication and enthusiasm of the troupe. I spent my working life dealing with computers and having minimal exposure to theatre, education and children with disabilities. Participation in TAP opens new worlds for me to explore.