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PCT Update - Sep 2004
Project Manager Beccy Smith reports

This months’ Animations Online has an international feel reflecting the fascinating range of puppetry work that has been entertaining audiences throughout the summer – at festivals in Buxton [noticeboard], Docklands and Edinburgh [reviews] not to mention in the auspicious surrounds of the National Theatre Gallery. Visions festival is now on the horizon (Brighton in October), offering a chance to revisit some of the most exciting artists’ work from the last few months as well as some great new international offerings - and with exciting autumn programmes from a range of companies and venues [noticeboard] the puppetry scene has been feeling invigorated of late. This vigour has certainly made itself felt at the Puppet Centre where activities have been continuing apace, despite the traditional summer lull.

After the thrilling news over the summer of our successful project funding from Arts Council England for our Continuing Professional Development programme, we’ve been beginning to put the finances to work. We are in the process of appointing the panel who will guide the projects, currently comprising our chair, Professor Anthony Dean, acclaimed puppeteer and teacher Joy Haynes and vision-ary festival director Linda Lewis. These practitioners (plus one other) will be working alongside PCT to develop a varied and relevant series of masterclasses and workshops responsive to the needs of puppetry and theatre artists in England. Our first event will be a masterclass with João Paulo Seara Cardoso from Teatro de Marionetas do Porto as part of Visions on October 27th. Contact the Puppet Centre for details of how to apply. Further details of the programme as it is developed will be updated here regularly.

The work of this year’s ACE / PCT Bursary recipients is currently coming to a close: both artists have made some great leaps forward in the development of their work over the nine months financed.

Ramon Abad has extensively explored the possibilities of combining shadow puppetry with projected moving images: producing two exploratory works for the BBC’s Black and Asian forum and for students at the Central School of Speech and Drama. He has observed the work of renowned shadow company Teatro Gioco Vita in Italy and developed the aesthetic of his work, taking inspiration from various artists including Giotto, Hopper and Sofia Clist, early cartoon images and an array of international folk tales.

Mervyn Millar is currently well into his time collaborating with Handspring in South Africa (alongside the Sogolon Puppet Troupe) and he may develop his experiences into a book as a record of the process. He has also worked extensively on discussions focusing on the potential for cross artform collaborations using puppetry with a range of artists, exploring their practical expectations of what theatre can be and why puppets are interesting and has started to develop several collaborative projects as a result of these encounters. He has also developed his design skills through Jan Zalud’s woodcarving course at the Little Angel Theatre in London. We hope to feature an overview of the work of the Bursary recipients in the next e-dition of Animations Online.

Application for this year’s bursaries will be opening at the beginning of October: details to be released shortly to all of our mailing lists (or contact the Puppet Centre Trust office to find out more)

PCT has also spent the summer opening discussions with other puppetry organisations on various potential collaborations. We hope to contribute to some of UNIMA’s work on the re-vamp of their Newsletter and continue to consider means of collaboration with PUK on future envisaged events. We continue to seek a new home for our extensive puppet collection and will be liasing with the Scottish Mask and Puppet Guild on action plans to house some of the UK’s finest public collections.

Locally, activities over the summer holidays have been vibrant. A full day workshop building street samba puppets for kids from local community centre, Garfield, brought a carnival feel to the Centre and indeed BAC as a whole who featured the kids’ procession as part of their BAC Summer Holiday activities. We have also brought puppet-making activities to the St John’s Community Centre Summer Fun Day and are planning a collaboration with Battersea Park Library on a longer-term project through the autumn. We continue to seek volunteers to support the work at the Centre, for both workshop activities and administrative projects: if anyone would like to offer a bit of their time for a project tailored to their skills and commitments please contact Beccy at the Centre.

Finally, PCT will be reaching the relative maturity of our 30th anniversary this October. That the organisation has not only survived but thrived for the best part of this time, adapting to the changing needs of the puppetry sector and UK arts scene in general is a phenomenal testament to the vision, energy and commitment of all the staff and Board members who have served their time here and for which we extend our heartfelt thanks. The recent funding provision and revamp of the Centre’s activities is a hugely gratifying commitment to both the Centre and, most importantly English puppetry in general and a tremendous start to the next thirty years. We’ll be having a modest celebration in November (details yet TBC)...and I feel a toast coming on…

In the meantime, all the very best from the Puppet Centre Trust. For further information on any of the above-mentioned PCT projects or events, contact me at:

Beccy Smith, Project Manager

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