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PCT NEWS


updated by Beccy Smith
As the days grow longer, activities have been heating up at the Puppet Centre. March and April have been an eventful couple of months.
As many of you have probably heard in the press, Wandsworth's council tax-reduction drive has sadly resulted in serious cuts to BAC's provision for young people. The Puppet Centre Trust, also earmarked for cuts, has fortunately won a two-year reprieve and we are currently working with BAC and the Borough Council to revitalise our services for local children. March saw three sessions on our programme: workshops in Roehampton Church School and in Linden Lodge (a school for the visually impaired) and another in the Centre on the theme of Andrew Godbold's version of Little Red Riding Hood, playing downstairs in BAC. We are currently seeking funding to extend our work in the Borough and hope to use Wandsworth as a pilot borough for experiments in best practice for workshops in the community and local schools. Any thoughts, comments or ideas, please drop us a line.

Of course, the cuts in children's programming at BAC has meant the loss of an excellent and supportive venue for many puppet companies and we would like to hear from you if you've been affected by this or by similar cuts in your area. This is currently a hot topic in the national press so let's add the voice of the puppetry and children's theatre community to the debate.
Further changes in Wandsworth have meant that our extensive collections are on the move again. We are still fighting to keep the puppets local to the Centre, to allow us to continue exhibiting and touring them as much as possible and hope to bring good news on this front in the next AO. In the meantime, PCT is indebted to the help of Jane Eve, Jane Phillips and Peter Charlton in re-organising and clearing the current store and to all at Tooting Adult Education Centre for their help on this. Many of our puppets remain on public display, with recent exhibitions at Chertsey Museum and one to come at Stevenage Museum from July to October.
Back at the Centre, our first proposals for projects to redevelop the national activity of the Centre have been submitted to ACE. Focussing on training and development provision for puppeteers, these form the first stage in our future plans to revitalise the work of the Centre in advancing the artform, to be built up in successive applications. Please keep all fingers, prosthetic or otherwise, firmly crossed!

Meanwhile, despite our concentration on the future of the Centre we continue to organise professional development and networking events where possible. In March, in collaboration with the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild, we hosted the American academic Roger Copeland who followed up his 2002 talk on the work of Julie Taymor, a former student and now a friend. His talk was illustrated with slides and video clips of her productions before and after Lion King, which those present found entertaining and illuminating. We have also been working alongside the Barbican theatre department and the BITE festival to plan a new kind of puppetry masterclass with the great Canadian auteur (writing, designing, crafting and performing his works for adults) Ronnie Burkett: Thursday May 13th at 2.30 will be a rare opportunity to observe his process in discussion with the directors of three British companies: Blind Summit, Mishimou and Steve Tiplady of Indefinite Articles and the Little Angel. The audience will have the opportunity to pose questions to the acclaimed puppeteer-provocateur and his guests.
We continue to develop Animations Online alongside the changes at the Centre and warmly invite your ideas and comments on both the online magazine to
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Animations Online hopes to develop its forum section as a place for you to exchange comments and ideas, so do keep in touch with us here with your thoughts as well as your news and updates for our noticeboard.
With all good wishes from the Puppet Centre Trust
Beccy Smith, Project Manager, May 2004.