Founded in 2005, Casteliers is a specialized theatre presenter dedicated to puppetry arts. Casteliers organizes an annual international festival, Festival de Casteliers, and presents shows for both adult and family audiences throughout the year. Whether traditional in form or contemporary, the performances attest to the rich diversity of puppetry’s past and the plurality of the present day works that draw their inspiration from the past.
The French word “castelier” (noun: a person who introduces or narrates a puppet show, who intervenes with the puppet characters in a show) has been around since the early twentieth century. A somewhat obsolete word, we have revived it and expanded its meaning by adding an “s”. While its English counterpart, “puppet master”, is generally regarded as someone who performs puppet shows, Casteliers (with an “s”) are more than simply performers: they are important artistic mediators that bring together puppetry artists and audiences.
Since the beginning of time and across cultures, puppets have been part of human existence and are a reflection of who we are. Over the centuries, they have entertained, questioned, moved and unsettled audiences, whether they be children, adults, scholars or the uninitiated. They have had a hand in many intellectual, artistic and political revolutions. Since the 20th century, their extraordinary poetic and dramatic power has attracted a range of creators from the broader arts world who embrace puppetry and make it their own. The quality and number of shows featuring puppets which are performed on both smaller and larger world stages are a testament to the ever-increasing interest in puppetry we see today.
The development of puppetry arts in Québec since the 1970s has been remarkable; today, more than forty professional companies produce shows for children and adults. The vibrancy of the Québec puppet scene and the quality of productions are recognized by fellow professionals as well as audiences the world over. In a bid to stoke this rapid growth, Casteliers was founded in Montréal in 2005 to promote puppetry arts and the excellent work of professional artists from here and abroad.
Since it doesn’t have its own performance venue, Casteliers works closely with many local, national and international partners: specialized and non-specialized performing arts presenters, festivals, teaching institutions and arts associations. In this way, Casteliers has built a dynamic network that promotes local initiatives, thereby increasing the reach of visiting shows.
Along with the Québec Puppeteer Association (Association québécoise des marionnettistes—AQM), Casteliers is also co-founder of the Maison internationale des arts de la marionnette (MIAM—International House of Puppetry Arts), a creative hub that also serves as a performance venue, and a training and cultural mediation centre entirely dedicated to puppetry arts, which opened its doors in fall 2018.
Casteliers is a cultural partner of the Outremont borough, a member of the AQM , the Union internationale de la marionnette (UNIMA), the Association des diffuseurs spécialisés en théâtre (ADST), the Conseil québécois du théâtre (CQT) and Culture Montréal.