“Recently I attended the performance of the play “Family Tear” that was written and then performed by Michelle Warkentin, her puppet and three other female actors. The play explored the subject of a senior mother with dementia, who lived with an adult single daughter who was being treated for cancer. Another successful adult daughter appeared disconnected from the circumstances and did not visit often. The play was compelling in its truthful and heartbreaking portrayal of the advancement of the disease known as Alzheimer’s and its impact on both the patient and the family members. In this play we witness and personally experience the emotions of the ill daughter facing treatment with no family support. Michelle’s puppet is skillfully used throughout the play to demonstrate the losses that an individual with Alzheimer’s disease may experience over time. Family Tear tackles a serious topic. At the same time it delivers hope through the compassionate care of a nurse and then through eventual healing of family wounds. The play also reminds us that family members may have different life circumstances. Communication and patience are important coping strategies.

The portrayal of the entire family experience was deeply moving. The silence and stillness in the theater throughout the performance reflected the depth of the patron’s emotions. Many individuals wept silent tears. My own parent was a victim of Alzheimer’s. So personally, I was profoundly moved by Michelle’s creative interpretation of this complex life experience. As a Reg. Clinical Counsellor with a previous nursing background, I strongly recommend this play for family members of a patient, for Health Care and Mental Health Professionals.”

Maureen Pysklywec, MA, Reg. Clinical Counsellor

“Michelle took the lead on helping design puppets, bring the characters to life and create curriculum in alignment with Vivo’s values and educational objectives. Michelle is masterful at connecting kids and families with healthy messages of self esteem, positive body image, physical vitality and healthy eating. Co-creating with Michelle is a joy-full effort”.

Cynthia Watson, Chief Evolution Officer for Vivo for Healthier Generations

Our presenter today was different. She didn’t come with a Power point or a few pages of speaking notes. It was different for this club and certainly Rotarians, but judging by the smiles painted across the faces of those in attendance and by the energy that you could feel reverberate through the room what Michelle Warkentin offered was different but Good. Michelle involved the audience! A hundred and some Calgary South Rotarians stood, turned to the person next to them and laughed out loud, just as Michelle instructed them. They involved themselves, they had fun and everyone left a little happier.

The Rotary Club of Calgary South

“We need more of what Michelle brings! Best of conference! Thank you!”

“Lots of fun and action!”

“Thank you for the laughter therapy!”

“Loved it!”

“This was an amazing session, not what I expected but pleasantly surprised!”

“Excellent, fun, touching, informative!”

“Fun and engaging! Really feel like I am walking away with lots of great ideas for the classroom, school and my own personal life!!”

“Great fun and good reminder of how to have fun in classroom and in life.”

“Thanks for the reminder and affirmation of play. Awesome!!”

“Amazing! Fun and informative. Inspired me to get back to school and play!”

“Inspiring! Excellent communicator! Kind and impacting!”

“Such a wonderful learning experience this session is. I thoroughly enjoyed the laughing and inspiration I got out of this session, please repeat this next year!”

“Excellent! Thank you for rekindling the child in me that loves to play!”

“Thanks so much – play is healing-brings out the best in all our characters. This has been healing and enlightening.”

Special Education Teachers’ Conference, Kananaskis, AB

“Laughter is certainly the best medicine and Michelle knows how to play doctor. Michelle and her puppet friends had our Roaring Women Calgary members laughing so hard that our stomachs and jaws ached, a good ache! She had us remembering our playful childhood days and brought us all back to that warm place in our hearts and souls!”

Diane Dumont – Director of Roaring Women Calgary

“I had the pleasure of hearing Michelle Warkentin’s Keynote at the Pre-School convention on Saturday January 28, 2012. Keynote presentations set the tone for the rest of a conference. This particular conference focussed on the power of play and creativity. Michelle did an excellent job of reinforcing the conference’s theme by weaving personal heart-warming stories of her life experiences and the power of play, along with using some amazing puppet and getting entire audiences up and moving in various playful activities. Michelle is one who truly walks her talk. It is very refreshing to hear someone that is so authentic. I would highly recommend Michelle as a Keynote speaker as she definitely set a wonderful tone for the entire conference.”

Susanne Alexander-Heaton Award–Winning Author Motivational Speaker and Fundraiser

“Michelle Warkentin’s presentation at our annual Calgary Preschool Teachers Convention exceeded our expectations. Engaging? Yes! Funny? Yes! A recipe for rejuvenation midway through the teaching year – – YES!!

“Michelle had us laughing at her antics and her puppets’ antics. She took us to the make believe world that our students frequent on a regular basis and reminded us how much fun it is in that world. As early childhood educators, we often get caught up in the day-to-day issues and Michelle reminded us about the importance of embracing life and loving it. More importantly, she reconnected us to the creative spirit that resides in all of us. It is that creative spirit that taps into the inner child in all of us. It is that inner child that allows us to be the best early child educators that we can be. It is that inner child that lets us laugh with our children and laugh at ourselves. Important life lessons indeed!

“Michelle’s message about embracing your creative spirit was all the more poignant as she herself is a living embodiment of that message. Her enthusiasm for her profession was infectious and contagious and she made us all smile for the remainder of the convention.”

Marjorie Cole, B.Ed – ECE President – Southern Alberta Preschool Teachers Association

I am delighted by the success of Michelle’s recent workshop, “Creating Puppet Play and Drama” that was presented at our annual pre-school teacher’s convention this January. The energy and interest that was generated amongst our members has been well noted.

Here are just a few of the comments we received…

“Michelle’s presentation was lively and interactive – it was the perfect ending to a fun filled day!”

“Michelle is phenomenal and I vote that she should be the keynote speaker next year!”

“Michelle is simply awesome”

“I loved all the ideas that Michelle shared with us, especially the one about creating a drama from a traditional story such as’The Three Little Pigs’ “

“I used to feel intimidated by puppets but have now realized that they aren’t so scary and am excited to go out and buy some of my own”

“Please have Michelle come back and perhaps, for a longer session next time!”

Melody Brown Foster – Vice President – Calgary Preschool Teacher’s Association

Please accept this letter of reference for Michelle Warkentin. Michelle took on an incredibly challenging role with the Calgary Block Parent Association and I couldn’t be more pleased with the professionalism, creativity and drive she devoted to our critical Education Program. Michelle investigated the current program, researched new ways to reach out to Calgary students, and delivered a program that the city of Calgary had never seen before. We were able to reach thousands more students than we ever had in the past. Students were fully engaged through Michelle’s original songs and messages. Teachers, principals and administrators provided rave reviews following each and every presentation.

Michelle’s ability to communicate with the kids is beyond impressive. It was a true gift to have her on board as a professional puppeteer, public speaker and driven colleague. I would not hesitate to work with Michelle again in the future. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime at: 403.710.5366

Jennifer N. Reynolds – Past Executive Director – Calgary Block Parent Association

I just felt the need to make sure that I sang Michelle’s praises! She did a wonderful job and the presentation was far and above what we had expected. She was entertaining but best of all with her style of presentation the kids really ‘got it’. I would highly recommend a visit from Michelle to any other school or organization to spread the Block Parent message. Sincerely and with gratitude,

Pamela Glover, St. Patrick School, Calgary AB

The presenter was excellent – by far the best I’ve seen!
It was engaging, well-timed in terms of information being presented, and well-organized.

St. Cyril School, Calgary AB

This puppet show definitely held the student’s attention. A very worthwhile presentation.

Phoenix Foundation, Calgary AB

Our expectations were exceeded by the quality of the performance. It was very engaging for the students.

Our Lady of Peace School, Airdrie AB

This puppet presentation was a very effective way to get the message across to the young children.

John Costello School, Calgary AB

The presenter TOTALLY engaged the students. We all enjoyed this very much!

Holy Angels School, Calgary AB

Michelle did excellent impersonations with her puppets. It was very memorable.

St. Gerard School, Calgary AB

Your presentation was informative and fun and sent the message clearly.

St. Benedict School, Calgary AB

The presentation was fantastic! It is a great service for the community.

Patrick Airlie School, Calgary AB

Your presentation was great! It was so animated and the kids just loved the puppets. Thank you for your flexibility in booking times.

Beddington Heights School, Calgary AB

The puppeteer was extremely entertaining and kept the children engaged. They learned the safety information in a fun way. We loved it !

St. Rupert School, Calgary AB

Your presentation was age appropriate and entertaining.

Olympic Heights School, Calgary AB

I just wanted to let you know that the presentations this afternoon by Michelle were a HUGE success! The students were so engaged throughout the presentation and the information was relevant and memorable. We’ve had Block Parent presentations in the past and what made this one stand out was the humour, songs, puppets and interaction with the students. They laughed lots and learned lots. It was simply wonderful and Michelle is so talented. As one teacher put it, Michelle should start her own children’s TV show – she’s THAT good!

Highwood School, Calgary

“Attending, “Family Tear”, was heart opening. Michelle’s writing and the ability of the puppet to capture the mystery of Alzheimer’s was remarkable. The capacity with which the play introduced and connected me to grief, family struggle and the mysterious experience of how one might actually experience being trapped in the body mind of dementia offered us a glimpse into the depth of both the producer and writer’s experience of human suffering. The simplicity of the set structure opened up space for the imagination. A remarkable event.”

Karen Daniels – Expressive Arts Workshop Leader – Life Skills Consultant, Group Therapist

I was fortunate to have attended the inaugural performance of, “Family Tear,” this summer. This play was particularly meaningful because it covered a topic (dementia) that my immediate family is currently dealing with. The characters in the play were very well developed and the story line was exceptional. The Playwright (Michelle Warkentin) exhibited a remarkable sensitivity and understanding to a topic which affects a large number of families such as our own. I found the play to be thoroughly engaging, very entertaining and meaningful and would recommend it to others without hesitation.

Steve Speer