Photo of Yabber - Mudfoot Theatre cast and creative team
Mudfoot Theatre cast and creative team | Photo by: Caitlind Brown

Mudfoot Theatre

By Meghan Power

Mudfoot is an independent Calgary-based theatre company under the artistic direction of Kathryn Smith and Geneviève Paré. Mudfoot works collaboratively with interdisciplinary artists and is focused on the environment, using reclaimed materials, collaborative culture, and puppetry.

In 2021, Mudfoot received funding to produce a musical folk tale. Yabber is a tale about one person trying to better society, save the environment, and fight capitalism and discovering that it takes more than one person to save the world.


CADA funding is key for artists dedicated to creating new, independent work. Often artists must rely on larger organizations and funding bodies for money that often comes with a lot of strings attached. Kathryn Smith, co-artistic director, uses the following analogy to describe the CADA funding application: “It’s a little like an ice cream shop. Artists and organizations can build their own sundae, choose the flavours of ice cream they want, add different toppings, and ultimately create an application that’s customized to the work and how it’s envisioned.”


The funding from CADA allowed for Kathryn and Geneviève to fully develop this work, from conception to production, and to make sure that the artists involved in the project were paid fairly. It was important for Kathryn and Geneviève making sure the artists felt seen and their time and craft valued—especially during a pandemic when so many theatres and performance venues were forced to close their doors.


“Fortunately, we were able to get funding to cover the three phases of the Yabber project,” says Kathryn. “Phases one and two focused on development. In phase one we rummaged for materials to use in the production to create masks, puppets, and instruments. We also created a mini documentary about gathering the materials at Bin Diver, a local business dedicated to creating new possibilities for discarded materials.


As part of phase two, Yabber was showcased at this year’s International Festival of Animated Objects as a work in progress. The International Festival of Animated Objects Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting mask and puppet related performance and providing space and time for the incubation of creative projects.

Phase three is slated for 2023 and will hopefully see Yabber tour around Calgary, ideally visiting each quadrant. Mudfoot has converted a horse-trailer into a travelling stage, which keeps venue costs low and allows for free admission to audiences. Mudfoot usually receives support from local community centres by way of a power source and a place to park the trailer and set up the stage. Other than that, the production comes at almost no cost to the community.


“Having the financial funding from CADA, has not only allowed us to do all this, but has also made us feel seen and supported,” says Kathryn. “Having granting bodies that look at unconventional creative projects and can recognize the heart and the passion behind them is so important to the artists and creative teams behind them, and to creating a vibrant and innovative arts sector in Alberta.”