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Dorothy Max Prior
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2005 UK puppetry festivals round-up by Penny Francis
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Animations Online preview of puppetry and object animation at the London International Mime Festival 2006
photos: Mossoux Bonte, Familie Floez, Faulty Optic, Stephen Mottram.

The 28th London International Mime Festival tags itself as ‘eye-popping visual theatre for the digital age’, placing the emphasis perhaps on the shows using digital technologies. However, another strong characteristic of this year’s Mime Festival is the number of shows that feature puppetry or object animation of one sort or another, giving proof if any more were needed that puppetry/animation is a vital force in contemporary visual theatre practice.

These vary from the indisputably puppet-theatre productions - such as Stephen Mottram, Faulty Optic and Blind Summit - through to physical/visual theatre that uses object animation, such as Mossoux Bonte and Total Theatre Awards 2005 winner Andrew Dawson. And if you really want to stretch your definitions, there’s a fair amount of juggling – which of course is object animation, although not representational so hardly puppetry, so perhaps this is pushing boundaries a little too far – and (perhaps we are really taking off in wild directions now?), the pizza-flipping antics of Circus Ronaldo. Then there’s internationally-celebrated mask company Familie Floez – the mask-puppet relationship is a whole other discussion, but there is no denying that they are part of the same family of theatre practice, so to speak.

But rather than make any more value judgements on what is on offer at this eclectic and exciting festival of innovative physical and visual performance, and whether it is or isn’t puppetry or object animation, we offer you the complete LIMF 2006 performance listings so that you can make up your own minds on what of their programme fits the every-loosening definitions…

London International Mime Festival 11-29 January 2006

COMPAGNIE 111 (France) UK Premiere
More Or Less Infinity
QEH/ South Bank Wed 11-Fri 13 Jan
Circus skills, movement and extraordinary video imagery.

Twin Houses
Purcell Room/South Bank Sat 14-Tue 17 Jan
Eerie and sinister wordless monologue for one performer and five mannequin alter egos. A revival of a visual theatre classic, not to be missed!

FAULTY OPTIC (UK) London Premiere
Horsehead or The Rise and Fall of the Back and Front
ICA Sun 15-Thur 19 Jan
Animated figures and mechanical sets mixed with video, music and sounds –all spiked with wicked humour. See the reviews section in this e-dition of Animations for more on this
wonderful new show.

(Belgium) UK Premiere
Cucina dell-Arte
Barbican Pit Tue 17-Sat 21 Jan
Culinary, clowning and pizza-flipping skills from this famous circus family.

Purcell Room/South Bank Thur 19-Sun 22 Jan
A spectacular mix of actual and virtual juggling, light and sound.

Absence and Presence
ICA Fri 20-Sat 21 Jan
Using movement, music, mime, sculpture and much wry humour - an intimate exploration of loss and guilt. Winner of 2005 Total Theatre Award and Herald Angel.

MATILDA LEYSER (UK) London Premiere
Line, Point, Plane
Linbury at the Royal Opera House Fri 20-Sat 21 Jan
Powerfully demonstrating the ability of aerial skills to subtly and poignantly dramatise metaphor. Shortlisted Total Theatre Awards 2005

GAMARJOBAT (Japan) London Premiere
Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer Sat 21-Sun 22 Jan, 1pm. Free.
Two mohicaned Japanese street entertainers - funky, free-wheeling silent physical comedy.

Life's What You Make It
Purcell Room/South Bank Mon 23-Tue 24 Jan
Performed in French, with film, a fascinating portrait of Heggen’s own life and experiences as a performer.

ICA Mon 23-Wed 25 Jan
Stunning sound and lightscapes, and a performance of extraordinary power and grace.

FAMILIE FLOEZ (Germany) London Premiere
Ristorante Immortale
Purcell Room/South Bank Wed 25-Sun 29 Jan
Berlin based Familie Floez blend masks, movement and music.

BAC Tue 24-Sun 29 January
Artist, craftsman and puppeteer Stephen Mottram’s renowned trilogy, all three shows presented together for the very first time.
Tue-Thur: The Seed Carriers
Fri-Sat: The Seas of Organillo
Sun: In Suspension

LES MARCHES DE L'ETE (France) UK Premiere
Le Modèle de Molinier or The Narcissist's Ceremony
ICA Fri 27-Sun 29 Jan
Solo performance inspired by Molinier's auto-erotic art exploring gender ambiguity, fantasy and illusion.

BLIND SUMMIT (UK) London Premiere
BAC Tue 10 Jan-Sun 7 Feb
Fresh from their success at Edinburgh – and at ENO with Madam Butterfly - Blind Summit bring their alcohol-soaked adult puppetry cabaret of deadbeats and losers to London. Shortlisted Total Theatre Awards 2005 at the Edinburgh Fringe. See the >Total Puppetry feature in this e-dition of Animations for more on this

For further details and to book tickets, see
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