While those involved in puppet-making and performance are no doubt aware of how to find the shop, the stretch of Dupont where Open Door is located is a bit off the beaten path. “Foot traffic is a challenge on this strip,” says Bigham. However, this was not always the case. “Evidently, in the early ’50s this was a very commercial street,” Bigham says. “People would get on the train and come down from North Toronto—it was quite a vital neighbourhood.” And, in some ways, with the current influx of young families to the area, Bigham sees it making something of a return to its former self, saying, “the neighbourhood is changing—it’s stroller city!”
In addition to doorway theatres, Bigham also produces larger theatres for schools and libraries—”the first one was commissioned by a grade 10 teacher; now, we’re five years on and we’ve shipped to Italy and all over the states”—and sells a wide assortment of puppets both new, many of her own design and “museum quality vintage,” with the oldest dating back to the ’30s.
She’s currently working on a proposal to take over a building just down the street from her shop to open what would be the city’s only full-time puppet theatre. “I’m hoping it’ll start in October,” she says, “There’s going to be seven performances, once a month on a Sunday. We’ve got this beautiful little venue over here. Five all-ages performances, one adult and one ‘puppet slam’—an open mic for people that are serious.”
You can read the entire article online here, and be sure to look at the gallery of puppet pics.