Shows - Potato People

Potato People

Theatre Beyond Words created a unique form of theatre with the Potato People, a series of 14 live-animation-style, larval mask plays for family audiences. This original, non-verbal form of visual story telling inspired a generation of artists across Canada and won the hearts of audiences around the world. 

In 1987 the Potato People, a theatrical cartoon received a Citation of Excellence Award in the Art of Puppetry from UNIMA-USA. This award is known by insiders as "The Puppeteers' Oscar".

There are now 14 plays in this Canadian Classic, with over 42 mask characters, 30 puppets, 2 aliens, a robot and one very smart dog. 



Tales from the Garden

Masks, music and comic mayhem abound as Nancy Potato and George Beanstalk explore a woodland haven in their backyard.

When these two curious characters find themselves magically transported to a magnified world of their own garden they discover amazing things about the insects and animals around them and even a thing or two about themselves!

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Background Information

First produced in 2011
Niagara Region Tour January 2011
Ontario Tour presented by Prologue to the Performing Arts March/April 2012
Ontario Tour presented by Prologue to the Performing Arts March/April 2013


In this new production enjoy the adventures of Nancy Potato with her friends and family in scenes (or 'chips') from some of your favourite shows!

What sticky situations will Nancy get herself into with the mischievous neighbourhood dog? And if that isn't enough to keep Momma on her toes imagine how frazzled she'll be when Grandma Potato stops by for a visit with more than a few sneaky surprises up her sleeves!

Potato Chips was created using participants in TBW's emerging artist mentoring program called Sprouts. For more information on this educational outreach program check out our Workshops page.

Background Information:
First produced in 2006
Niagara Region Tour 2006-2007

Presented by Prologue to the Performing Arts 2008 - 2010


When an alien spacecraft crashes in the backyard, Nancy and Dillon hitch a ride.

If you though Y2K was a problem, LOOK OUT! An alien spacecraft is about to crash in Nancy Potato's backyard. As the stranded aliens scramble to look for fuel and materials to repair their spaceship, the inquisitive Nancy and her chum Dillon decide to lend a helping hand. To the surprise of everyone, the youngsters accidentally take the craft for an impromptu ride. Minus a few foibles with a zany robot all ends well. The Potato People learn to communicate and work together with the aliens in order to return everyone safely to their rightful home.

Conceived by: Mike Petersen
Directed by: Terry Judd

Background Information:

First produce in 1999


An innovative rendition of the Brothers Grimm tale: The Shoemaker and the Elves.

Nancy Potato opens her storybook to discover an enchanting world of shoes, elves and magic. Each night the kindly Shoemaker goes to bed after a long day of making plain brown shoes. Every morning he wakes up to do it all over again until one day he wakes up to find that someone has finished his shoe-making for him during the night. There in his shop are bright and fanciful shoes that dance with lives of their own. A trio of mischievous Elves breathe new life into the Shoemakers' work and he learns the fun and value of a playful imagination.

Conceived by: Mike Petersen
Directed by: Robin Patterson
Composer: Sandy Moore

Background Information:
First produced in 1997


shows-potato-people.jpgMomma, Poppa, Nancy and Grandma experience the loss of a loved one - Grandpa Potato.

The first time that Nancy Potato visits her Grandma all by herself everything seems unfamiliar and a little intimidating. The gnarly old tree in the yard, the creaky old house - even Grandma's behaviour seems peculiar. But on subsequent visits through the changing seasons Nancy discovers that the old tree holds many surprises. She also develops a strong bond with Grandma and learns about her own family tree. With our trademark style of gentle humour, TBW introduces children to the concept of time and the cycle of life.

Conceived by: Robin Patterson & Terry Judd
Directed by: Robin Patterson

Background Information:
First produced in 1995


Nancy's first day at school is a trial for Momma Potato and a triumph for the teacher! 

School Daze chronicles Nancy Potato's first day at school. For Nancy, the hardest part is not the school work, but recess: meeting and interacting with classmates, the teacher, and especially the school bully. Within this context, School Daze explores the issues of socialization, peer pressure and self esteem.

Conceived by: Robin Patterson & Terry Judd
Directed by: Robin Patterson

Background Information:
First produced in 1994


When Poppa takes Nancy and her friends camping, anything that can go wrong - does!

The mischievous neighbourhood Beanstalk children are back, in the throes of a sibling rivalry. The antics of the comical Forest Ranger Ralph and a most amusing menagerie of woodland animals will tickle the funny bones of young and old alike.

Conceived by: Terry Judd
Directed by: Harro Maskow
Composer: Dan Van Wyck

Background Information:
First produced in 1991


Mask, mime, music and mayhem ensue when the Potato family wake up to discover a conductor and his musicians in their backyard!

Unprepared for a concert, they stumble into the orchestra's performance creating chaos on stage.  Providing a gentle lesson in theatre etiquette and a delightful introduction to classical music, Suite Potato is an entertaining treat for children and adults alike!

Conceived by: Robin Patterson
Directed by: Robin Patterson
Music Director: Raffi Armenian

Background Information:
First produced in 1989

A symphony accompanied show


The Potato Family's backyard is turned topsy-turvy when new neighbours, the beanstalk family, builds a house on the vacant lot next door!

The beanstalk children and Nancy Potato quickly make friends but things are not so easy for their mothers. Infused with the Potato People's trademark comedy, Seven Potato More! provides an engaging look at conflict resolution.

Conceived by: Robin Patterson
Directed by: Robin Patterson

Background Information:
First produced in 1988


This gentle spoof on the "participaction" craze is rich in visual puns and features a wealth of hilarious scenes of backyard fun! A mischievous family of Raccoons captures the imagination and the antics of the teenage twin boys always delivers thrills.

Conceived by: Robin Patterson
Directed by: Paulette Hallich

Background Information:
First produced in 1986


An old uncle of Poppa's faces the energy and curiosity of toddler Nancy with hilarious results.

Conceived by: TBW Collective
Directed by: Larry Lefebvre

Background Information:.

First produced in 1981


 A series of comic vignettes featuring the Potato Family's friends and relatives.

Conceived by: TBW Collective
Directed by: Harro Maskow


Background Information:.

First produced in 1980


Nancy and her friend George inadvertently foil a would-be thief.

A quiet Saturday morning sets the stage for a relaxing breakfast in the Potato family's backyard. Oh no! A thief is on the run and this comic villain has a penchant for piggy banks and their contents. The robber is foiled again and again by Nancy and her friend George, the newspaper boy. Will the thief steal Nancy's bank or will the Potato People teach him a lesson?

Conceived by: TBW Collective
Directed by: Fred Thury

Background Information:
First Produced in 1979


The many comic backyard antics are nuthin' but trouble for Momma Potato.

Share a day in the life of the Potato Family! When the Pearblossoms drop by, what should be a fun visit quickly dissolves into disarray. Bud the dog raids garbage cans and trains Nancy Potato to fetch. Iodine Pearblossom gets tangled in a swing-set. Bartlett Pearblossom III challenges Poppa to a chess game, a battle of wits that's constantly thwarted. Add a jumbled newspaper, an errant cassette player, and a misplaced shoe to the hodge-podge, and you've got nothin' but trouble!

The scene from this show called 'Dog's Best Friend' in which Bud the dog teaches Nancy Potato how to play fetch was first created as a segment in a TBW vingette show. It was an immediate hit, both touching and funny. Out of this scene grew the Potato family and a full length show. Nuthin' But Trouble was the first Potato People show which inspired a series of 11 other full-length non-verbal plays.

Conceived by: TBW Collective
Directed by: TBW Collective

Background Information:
First produced in 1977