Tsuut’ina Nation-born puppeteer says Fraggle Rock reboot is a dream come true
When DerRic Starlight learned of the reboot of one of his favorite childhood shows, fragglerock, was beginning production in Calgary in January 2021, you could say it was his destiny to work there.
But you wouldn’t know that given his first crack at a post.
“They came back to me and said, you know, the auditions for fragglerock passed two weeks ago,” Starlight said.
To truly understand Starlight’s connection to the series, you have to start at the beginning.
Starlight was a small child in her grandmother’s house on the Tsuut’ina Nation, overlooking the city of Calgary. He was convinced sesame street was in downtown Calgary.
“I used to ask my mom, ‘Can we go to town? Cookie Monster is over there, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie are over there!'” he recalled .
Starlight asked for puppets for Christmas when he was only three or four years old.
When he received the casting of The puppet show in puppet form, his grandmother would tell him to perform in front of their large family on special occasions.
“‘Get up and do your Puppet show,’ and i will do mine Puppet show. That’s how it all started,” Starlight said.
Growing up on the reservation in the 1980s, Starlight said their TV schedule revolved around their three channels and CBC on Sunday nights in particular.
“I think all Canadians will probably remember at the CBC, The Wonderful World of Disney would come on TV, so The puppet show would air after that, so fragglerock“said Starlight.
His passion for puppetry continued at school and his teachers asked him to do his shows for the class.
“I learned to do, like, all the voices, down to a ‘T’ – every single one of them,” Starlight said.
After attending Vancouver Film School, he made his own puppets and assigned them unique characters.
Starlight said he made a name for himself as a comedian and puppeteer with Indigenous audiences.
“Jim Henson called his ‘The Muppets’ because they’re half puppet and half puppet. Mine are ‘Nuppets’ – half Native and half puppet,” Starlight said.
So getting back to that “intended” part – the people who hire for Fraggle Rock: back to the rock researched Starlight’s work and offered her a live audition — and yes. He got the job.
He worked as a puppeteer on 13 new episodes of Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock, all of which were produced at the Calgary Film Center between January and June 2021.
“I punched a hole in a door for other Native puppeteers to say, ‘Hey, I did that, now it’s your turn,'” Starlight said.
As for Starlight’s full circle moment?
“I can now tell my mother – see? I told you The Muppets were in downtown Calgary.