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
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.