Tim Gosley

Tim Gosley

Poetry of the puppet with Tim Gosley

Local Muppeteering legend leads Poeteers, a performance by puppeteers, at The Victoria Spoken Word Festival March 6

Hand-drawn patterns and fleece bits decorate the kind of garage that would put any dedicated crafter at ease. A radio murmurs CBC and a bottle of Speed Sew stands by.

Timothy Gosley pulls a yellow fleece puppet from the ingredients and slides it over his hand.

“The manipulation of these things is a bit like playing the blues, where it’s not very difficult to know the technique, but you can sure see somebody who can put the soul into it. It can be very rigid and people can still be into it, then there’s the real, refined subtlety.”

This puppet, much-loved and losing stitches, is a rare piece the puppeteer is able to admit he likes, for its simplicity. Its head cocks to the side.

“Yup,” the little guy says. “People kinda like me!”

The master Muppeteer has taken on a full spectrum of roles related to puppetry and after a career in television spanning four decades, he’s finally able to confirm his strength “may possibly be in performing.”

In 2005 Gosley returned to his hometown buying a house in Fairfield, minutes from where he grew up. It happened to come equipped with a 50-seat theatre (where he and his wife, actor Petra Kixmöller, regularly stage shows of all varieties) and ample space in the garage for Muppet-making workshops.

“I rejected the Muppets for a while because it seems kind of commercial, but then I came back here a few years ago when I was doing my (Muppet-esque donkey, “Tim’s ass”) in front of a bunch of old people, you could hear an audible: ‘Awwww,’” he says. “Being in a live audience made me realize that people actually need the Muppet, fuzzy, heavy, extreme character sort of thing. It’s just as culturally as important as doing an esoteric artsy, fartsy sort of thing.”

He does both.

Gosley began honing his craft as a builder for The Smile Show, a long-running vaudevillian/British music hall offering hosted by his late father, Jerry Gosley, through the 1970s. Though Gosley claims no particular talent emerged backstage at the show, he remembers enjoying the work before he left Victoria post-high school to attend “serious acting school” at the University of Alberta. Where acting presented challenges for the shy performer – a good actor when not intimidated working for good directors, he says – puppeteering was a natural progression from his work with Daddy. For the three students at his university interested in the art form at the time, it was also, apparently, a poor choice.

“I think we were called the three crazies and two of us got thrown out,” Gosley said. “I was put on probation, just because the university didn’t think we were cut out to be professionals. Of the class, we are the three working people.”

Another of the so-called crazies was Theatre Inconnu’s artistic director Clayton Jevne, who landed Gosley his first puppeteering gig in Alberta. The two toured with Patchwork Puppets, an Edmonton-based company aimed at teaching children about the law through puppets.

The friends, each producing their own shows, moved quite literally in different directions, with Jevne headed back to Victoria where he would build independent theatre and Gosley to Toronto, there working with a full spectrum of productions before The Muppets came along. Gosley worked with The Muppets, Fraggle Rock and Sesame Park, the Canadian Sesame Street, where he performed as Basil the Bear for nine years.

“Performing with cameramen, that’s your audience. You’re entertaining them, but you don’t have a great concept that there are tons of little kids at home (watching),” Gosley says. “We’d goof around and it’d be great, but it wasn’t until you got out and were with other humans that you felt the power.”

Gosley likens a puppet to an iceberg, with the majority of it hiding below.

“You’re trying to make an inanimate object look like it’s imbued with life. The nature of that is odd.”

In a world of computer generated imagery, Muppet movies continue to bring puppets to the silver screen and in the live world, Gosley says, they’ve always survived.

“What’s comforting to people with hands-on puppets is that the audience can see how it’s done. They get wrapped up in the magic of it. … In conjunction with the highly technical world we have, the puppet world keeps us in check with terra firma.”

For more information on workshops contact timgosley@telus.net or 250-598-7488.

Gosley will lead Poeteers in the Victoria Spoken Word Festival, March 6 at the Metro Studio Theatre (1411 Quadra). Tickets are $12/10 available at victoriaspokenwordfestival.com.

Just Posted

Swanwick Ranch in Metchosin, featuring an award-winning home on 67 acres of property overlooking the ocean, recently sold for a record-setting, yet undisclosed amount. (Sotheby’s International Realty Canada photo)
Sale of oceanfront property in Metchosin yields new record for Greater Victoria

Listed at $14.1 million, Swanwick Ranch sold to an undisclosed buyer

The price of gas is way up in many parts of Greater Victoria after a Monday afternoon surge sent it to 162.9 cents per litre. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gas prices surge to 162.9 cents a litre at some Greater Victoria stations

Prices jumped up more than 10 cents Monday afternoon

Mieran Loira, who works at Moxie’s restaurant on Yates Street, was named a winner in the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s #StandUpForService campaign. (Courtesy Town Hall Brands)
Victoria Moxies server can’t hide her smile, earns provincial kudos for pandemic work

Personality, charisma shine despite masks, coronavirus challenges

The number of skilled trades workers available is not enough to fill the current construction boom in Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Influx of skilled tradespeople falling behind Greater Victoria construction boom

Thousands of positions will be needed by 2030, despite flow of Camosun trades students

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

Most Read