The Puppet Masters

Xstine Cook

Xstine Cook

She/Her • Founder, Co-Artistic Director, Curator of Film & Video

Xstine Cook is a self-taught filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist known for the film “Spirit of the Bluebird”. A mask and puppet maker and experimental theatre artist for over 20 years, Xstine studied mask and puppetry in Bali, Italy, France, and the West Coast of Canada. She graduated from Dell’Arte International Theatre School in California, and is a founder of Green Fools Theatre, Calgary Animated Objects Society, and the Festival of Animated Objects.

Pete Balkwill

Pete Balkwill

He/Him • Co-Artistic Director, Curator Live Programming

Pete is a Co-Artistic Director at the Old Trout Puppet Workshop here in Calgary. He is also the Education Director of the Canadian Academy of Mask and Puppetry, which is a new society – they do workshops and also support the creation of emerging artists and their work. Sometimes Pete plays the drums with the bluegrass punk band called the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir.

Amelia Marie Newbert

Amelia Marie Newbert

She/Her • Managing Producer

Amelia has worked in major arts organizations across the country including Theatre Calgary and the National Arts Centre and also served as a faculty member at the National Theatre School. She is a passionate advocate for accessibility and inclusion in the arts and was recently awarded the inaugural Grand Heart Award in recognition of her significant contributions in advancing LGBTQ2+ human rights in Alberta.

Sean Dennie

Sean Dennie

He/Him • Festival Photographer

Believing the camera is a witness to the soul, Sean dedicates himself to skilfully capturing the unique essence of a subject, with a goal to create a body of work that will endure beyond his time.  His passion is portraiture. Sean cut his photographic teeth in Calgary’s gritty after-hours club scene in the now defunct Night Gallery Cabaret. Self-taught he has been practicing his art professionally for over 20 years.  Shooting artists for “Who’s the Puppet Now?”, CAOS’s book of portraits of FAO artists since 2002 remains a favourite gig due to the creativity and joie de vivre of the subjects.

Elaine Weryshko

Elaine Weryshko

She/Her • Coordinator

Elaine is a physical theatre artist and practitioner of live performance space from Mohkínstsis||Calgary, Canada. Her medium is a poetic body for a Post-Britney world, she creates for it in a practice based out of extensive training in Lecoq physical theatre and other various contemporary dance/movement devising methods. She writes, performs, produces, designs and kamikaze’s live events in alternative spaces all over Alberta. Typical projects are inspired for choruses and large gatherings, casting between 6 to 32 people, searching for group catharsis on and off the stage.
Graham Kingsley

Graham Kingsley

He/Him • Marketing Coordinator

Graham has been working in Production Management for 8 years, including 2 years at Lunchbox Theatre, and most recently, 6 years as the Assistant Technical Director at Theatre Calgary. During that time he also spent 6 years on the board of the Calgary Pride Festival, where he ultimately became the VP of Operations for the organization.

Outside of work, Graham spends his time baking, playing board games, and enjoying time with his husband Jason and their dog Tux.

Land Acknowledgement

The Festival of Animated Objects operates on the territory of the indigenous people of Treaty 7 which includes the Siksika, Piikani, Kainai, Tsuut’ina and the Stoney-Nakoda first nations of the Chiniki, Bearspaw and Wesley. It is also the home of the people of the Metis Nation of Alberta, Region 3.