Reviews: THE JUNIOR Festival and the WEE Festival

by Lynn on May 22, 2023

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person two festivals for children:  

JUNIOR INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL for children 5 to 12 years old.

May 20-22, 2023.

At Harbourfront Centre


Teater Patrasket

From Denmark.

60 minutes (no intermission)

Based on the Carlo Collodi story.

Directed by Alex Byrne

Composer, Bastian Popp

Cast: Dirck Backer

Signe Kærup Dahl

Maria Myrgård

Bastian Popp

Teater Patrasket from Denmark gives this classic story a contemporary interpretation, about a puppet named Pinocchio who wanted to be a boy, but first he must learn to be human. You know the story, right? A poor woodcarver name Geppetto is lonely, so he creates a puppet for company,  out of bits and pieces of things. Miraculously during the night, the puppet comes alive, but is a bit miffed that one of his feet is in fact a wheel. “Why did you make me different?” he asks of the incredulous Geppetto? So one of life’s lessons for the audience—to this puppet, being different was not advantageous.

Geppetto so loves the puppet as if he was real that he sells his only coat for the money needed to buy Pinocchio a school book. But Pinocchio wants to sell the school book for a ticket to the circus. The audience was told there would be dilemmas. It was told that the first dilemma is what Pinocchio should do: go to school or to the circus?  It sounded like the wise, young audience thought ‘school’ was the best choice. Life lessons for both the audience and Pinocchio. Then the audience was asked: “What do you think Pinocchio did?” Hands down, the wise kids (they obviously read the book), said, “went to the circus.” There were other dilemma with more and more offers of what should he do and what did he do.

The craft of Teater Patrasket is stunning. The whimsy of the costumes, the collaborative acting of the story, the puppetry and not just Pinocchio, there were many others, the thorny issue of teaching a person to act with conscience is all there in this wonderful piece of theatre.


Patch Theatre


45 minutes running time.

Created by Geoff Cobham

Dave Brown

Roz Hervey

Temeka Lawlor

Angus Leighton

Composer, Jason Sweeney

Designer, Michelle ‘Maddog’ Delaney

Technical designers, Jason Sweeney

Designer, Chris Petridis

Alexander Hatchard

Animation, Luku

Cast: Temeka Lawlor

Angus Leighton

Before we go into the theatre, we are asked to give up ‘a bit of darkness’ and throw it in a black bag held by a welcoming man wearing a black hat with an iridescent band of blue around the circumference of it. When we go into the theatre, we are given a disk with several lights in it glowing white.

A kid is told good night by an unseen parent. That means ‘lights out.’ But she has a box with all sorts of stuff that produces light. Light pours in from the sides, from the top, from small flashlights and what look like glowing beams. Figures of light create patters and forms in the dark. Light shoots out to the audience. Patterns get more and more complex. Then we are asked to shake the lighted disk we were given. The lights change on everyone’s disk. The young audience whoops. Then it changes again, and again. Jason Sweeney’s throbbing music invites people to rise and dance if they want. Or not.

The show is a delight of light. It’s imaginative, wild, witty and creative.

WEE FESTIVAL for children 0-6 years old.

Various times and days, until June 11 2023.

Venues city wide.

The 2023 WeeFestival will launch a month-long citywide celebration of unforgettable artistic encounters for early childhood from May 16- June 11. The four- week dynamic and diverse program of performances and events for children newborn to six years olds features music, dance, puppetry performances in English, French, or with no words at all.


At the Redwood Theatre, 1300 Gerrard St. E.

Le Mouton carré (France)


Puppetry, Live Music2.5 years +Wordless

The Redwood Theatre – Sat 21 and Sunday 22 May | 11h – 30 minutes

While this has closed (it only played two days) there are more events that will be perfect for young members of the family.

“Pods” populate the stage. They look like mushrooms without the stems. Or bowls turned upside down. A man plays the ‘finger-harp” and whistles or sings or creates percussion on the pods. A woman who could use a laugh is approached by him playing and singing. Sand flows down. Later there is water from a pipe that flows down from the flies. A tiny puppet appears, as if born from under a pod. The puppet begins his journey of discovery. Objects on string float down.

The imagery, puppetry, light and creativity of this show captured the imagination of this young audience.

At the talkback a forthright kid asked what it was about. A younger voice said, “life.” Sounds about right to me. Looking forward to more productions next weekend.  

Both The Junior International Children’s Festival and The Wee Festival always happen around this time of year—Junior over the Victoria Day Weekend and Wee for a longer time in May. The age group for each festival overlaps with the other. It seems a no-brainer that they would be a perfect collaboration—pooling resources, sharing venues, spaces, timetabling etc. But they don’t. For some bizarre reason these two festivals, happening at the same time, catering to our most valuable and precious audience, young people, who represent THE FUTURE, do not collaborate. They have collaborated in the past for a terrific result. Please try again. It’s important.   

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