Historic costume designer, painter & glass artist Ingrid Hamster settled in Almonte in the early 1980’s. Her rationale at that time was that she was working both for the National Arts Centre and the Toronto theatre scene and thought Almonte would be in the middle. Perhaps not quite, but lucky for this community as she is an acclaimed costume designer with a specialty in dressing puppets. Noreen Young, beloved master puppeteer, also moved to Almonte in the early 1980’s, within a year of Ingrid, and they soon began collaborating on productions. In the early ’80’s Ingrid first worked at Noreen’s studio doing set design. Thereafter Noreen asked Ingrid to design costumes, mostly for individual character puppets she created. Their paths have crossed many times ever since they met. Ingrid was costume designer, textile consultant & set designer for video & film for various individual actors and continuously for Noreen Young Productions.
Fast forward to the 2000’s and Ingrid is, naturally, the creative genius behind dressing many puppets for Puppets Up! International Puppet Festival and for Noreen’s hit puppet show Sleeping Rough, so when it came time to design costumes for the upcoming The Hound of the Basketballs, Noreen and Alan Martin, the writer, chose Ingrid to dress six of the puppet characters including Sherlock Holmes. Well, because it is Sherlock Holmes and the play is actually based on one of his adventures, the costumes must be 19th century, 1893 to be exact. The story in The Hound of the Basketballs concerns Sherlock, his amanuensis and sidekick Watson and the maid ( Ingrid’s own puppet) and their adventures with local residents whose puppets animate the show (Baker Bob, Mary Lou Souter, Vicky Racey etc.) as well as Noreen’s well known puppets like “Gloria”. Ingrid reasoned that all the puppets in the show, many of which are borrowed puppets that Noreen made for local residents, must be dressed in period costumes which meant designing new outfits for twenty-two, a major project. Ingrid prepared sketches, chose fabric samples and came up with costumes illustrated in this picture.
Ingrid is an acknowledged star in her field and is retained by Teatro SEA, (Society of the Educational Arts, Inc.) in New York. Founded in 1985, Teatro Sea is the premiere Bilingual Arts-in-Education Organization and Latino Children’s Theatre in the United States. Ingrid has created designs for puppet costumes, sets and productions for twenty of their shows and keeps going. She is the recipient of the New York’s Theatre Artist Award for 2018 and 2020. Her work in currently on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington.
In Canada, The National Gallery of Canada gave Ingrid carte blanche to design costumes and dolls to be used by children visiting the Gallery. Children dress in the costumes or are given a costumed doll and then are challenged to locate the artwork in the museum to which the costume relates.
Locally, Ingrid is the recipient of the 2012 Mississippi Mills Cultural Achievement Award.
When asked about her specialty in puppet costumes, Ingrid replied that it is actually more fun than dressing humans. It is a particular skill as you have to understand how the puppet and the puppeteer move which affects the way the costumes are designed.
The Hound of the Basketballs is a pre-festival fund-raiser for Puppets Up! and well be performed at Almonte’s Old Town Hall in the evenings of May 12, 13 and 14, with a matinee on Sunday May 15.