BY GEORGE MARATOS

As a high school student in Victoria, BC, Moira Sauer dreamt of rowing for Canada’s Olympic team. So, each day she would train at Elk Lake, rowing as the sun rose, lifting weights and eating healthy.

Then it all changed.

“I was asked to make a penis puppet and the rest is history,” laughs the personable and eccentric Sauer. “I made it the wrong size, but from then on I was hooked.”

That was more than 10 years ago in Montréal and, today, Sauer is not only a regular puppeteer, but also an accomplished actress.

Her theatre company, Sour Brides (established along with Celia McBride), is continuing to enjoy success and, in early 2009, will be touring an original piece, So Many Doors, across Canada.

Sauer recently returned to Whitehorse after a six-month hiatus in the United States.

She says she needed to get away for a bit, so she went to New York to look after some property she owned and while there she also exercised her passion for puppets.

Sauer claims to not be a crafter, but looking around her downtown apartment one would think otherwise.

For one, she has recently made a sheep’s costume for her dog sissy, which she takes the liberty of modelling for me.

“She’s going to be in Longest Night with me,” smiles Sauer, speaking about the puppet aspect of Longest Night this year (Dec. 20, 21).

In addition to the sheep outfit, a lamb puppet hangs from her door, another puppet is strewn about the couch, papier mâché and other materials are scattered on the floor next to a nail gun and pieces of cloth.

The crafting goods are all in preparation for this year’s Longest Night as well as a puppetry workshop with world-renown puppeteer Eric Bass that Sauer is coordinating at the Yukon Arts Centre Dec. 13.

“Eric Bass is like the master of puppetry,” says Sauer. “When it comes to puppetry in Canada, he is the best.”

Bass, who has performed all over Europe and is now based in Vermont, will be in Whitehorse performing his show, Richard 3.5, at the Guild Hall Dec. 17 to 19 at 8 p.m. And Dec. 20 at 2 p.m.

The workshop is open to everyone and, during the workshop, participants will learn all the basics of puppetry.

While they won’t actually build puppets, because of time restrictions, they will learn about the appeal of puppetry and how to bring your puppet to life on stage.

“Let’s just call it, ‘Puppets!’,” laughs Sauer, when asked what she is calling the workshop.

Sauer beams with excitement when asked for her sales pitch with regard to the puppet workshop.

“You can enter worlds that you can’t as an actor,” explains the classically trained theatre actress. “You can go on stage and slay 10 puppets and decapitate them, you can’t do that to real people.

“There is a whole world of possibility.”

Sauer says her puppet show, Dirty Life, from a few years ago, would not have been as successful without the puppets.

“Some people, I think, would have walked out, but because it was puppets they thought it was hilarious,” smiles Sauer. “You can get away with anything you want.”

The workshop, in the YAC Production Room, will be Saturday, Dec. 13 from noon to 6 p.m.

Participants in the one-day workshop will be given excerpts from three plays and asked to look at them from the perspective of what puppets might bring to the staging of these pieces.

Registration and information is available from Moira Sauer at 335-2232 or moira@sourbrides.com.

PHOTO: RICK MASSIE massierick@hotmail.com