Windsor’s Mermaid Theatre is a theatre for all voices
Nestled in the picturesque rural community of Windsor, Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia was founded in 1972. Since then, ‘Mermaid’ has taken centre stage as a performing arts centre, Institute of Puppetry Arts, and global touring company with help from Nova Scotia Gaming’s Support4Culture program.
Danny Everson is the theatre’s executive director. He talks about the importance of investing in arts and culture: “The Support4Culture program has really made it possible for Mermaid to grow our programs and create employment. We help university students in the performing arts explore and test their newly acquired skills. We encourage young people to read and discover a new way to learn, and we bring back revenue and knowledge from our travels. Mermaid is a theatre for all voices, whether we’re telling the stories of our Indigenous heritage or performing in different languages for audiences around the world.”
Touring is integral to the theatre’s mission, whether it’s to schools, or seniors homes in Nova Scotia, or classrooms in China. Recently, the Mermaid team designed a production of the popular children’s book, Good Night Moon, in Mandarin. The show traveled to 13 Chinese cities and was seen by more than 15,000 people.
“We didn’t anticipate the reaction from the Chinese community,” says Danny. “They were so excited to experience how puppets can inspire children to want to learn and give them confidence to express themselves. They also wanted to know more about Nova Scotia and plan to visit!”
Mermaid Theatre offers classes, workshops and demonstrations in puppetry and animation to families, teachers, recreation leaders, theatre professionals and industry. Participants learn from renowned puppeteers Struan Robertson, the theatre’s director of education and outreach, and managing artistic director Jim Morrow who studied under the late Jim Henson of Muppets fame. Struan talks about the art of puppetry: “It’s about taking everyday objects that we throw away and transforming them into sculptures. Then it’s our job as puppeteers to bring them to life. What we do here at Mermaid is so rare that we get people travelling from across North America to learn and create. We couldn’t do this without programs like Support4Culture.”
Support4Culture is a program of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation. Funds are managed and distributed by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. Since 2013, Nova Scotia Gaming has funded more than $16 million for arts, culture and heritage in Nova Scotia. For information on the Support4Culture funding programs and how to apply, please visit the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.