NEWS : Summer 2010
NEWS FROM PUPPETEERS AND COMPANIES
Thingumajig Theatre: This July, Thingumajig Theatre will be opening a new street theatre piece called Hippochondriac. Built around an interactive, cycle-powered hippo, the show sees two scientists diagnose the poorly pachyderm through puppet shows set within its giant sides. Thingumajig Theatre has also been commissioned to make giant puppets for the Stockton International Riverside Festival Carnival and will be performing their award-winning play The Vertigo of Sheep at the INCANTI International Figure Theatre Festival in Turin, Italy.
Whalley Range All Stars will be in London 3 & 4 July to present Brain Wave as part of the Greenwich + Docklands Festival 2010. The show is an idle passing fancy transformed into a performance that features bold imagery, original music, vivid sound and ever-surprising twists and turns. Brain Wave has been commissioned by Stockton International Riverside Festival and has received funding from Arts Council North West. Initial project development through a commission by Alnwick Gardens. See the website for the full summer tour.
The Wright Stuff Theatre of Puppets: Billy Elliot the Musical is sprouting up all over the world – good news for Steve Wright and The Puppet Broadcasting Company. They have just completed a fifth set of puppets to send out to South Korea, where the show opens this summer, and are now beginning to make a sixth set for the second US touring version! Multi-award-winning director Stephen Daldry and the Billy Elliot team have kept faith with the Yorkshire based company since the opening in London in 2005, and their relationship continues to flourish.
Unpacked have started work on their Christmas show, Robin and the Big Freeze, commissioned by Brighton Dome and about the last bird to leave town. The company are also touring their children's show Jumping Mouse, adapted from a well-loved North American folktale, and will be visiting Eden Court, Inverness 19 August; Mull Theatre, Isle of Mull 20 August; Macphail Theatre, Ullapool 21 August; and Wynd Theatre, Melrose 22 August.
will be performing Drum at the Nuffield Theatre, Southampton 9 October and at The Lyric Hammersmith, London 16 October, then will take the work to Philharmonie Luxembourg 25-29 October. Drum is a multi-sensory and interactive performance for 6 month – 2 year-olds and their parents and carers. Listen to the gentle rhythm of the big bass drum, watch the shadows dancing on the surface of the small drums. Join the Oily Cart in this multi-sensory show for babies and toddlers and their adult companions.
...make wonderfully original puppet and craft kits… for kids! All kits have been designed by puppet-maker and TV puppeteer Sally Preisig, and each one comes in a recyclable cardboard spotted tub, complete with full ingredients, instructions, brush, glue and multiple colours of acrylic paint. The puppets also have special tags to thread them all together and are aimed at the school-aged child (4+). Kits are also available to trade buyers, as well as specially made half ‘dry pack kits’ for teachers, party planners and workshop leaders.
In May the Objects darted to Salford, Surrey, London and Aberystwyth, with performances of Stories on a Shoestring at the Lowry, the Churchill theatre and the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. There was also a rare appearance made by Mr Punch and family. The Tow Path Tour continued with a puppet day in Cosgrove and an adult education evening in Kidlington, and Objects Dart performed and facilitated a workshop for librarians and library assistants in central London. In July the company will be performing Stories and Salt at Beverley Puppet Festival, and then will tour Stories August-November to venues in Luton, Southhampton, Bath and Rotherham.
Forkbeard Fantasy’s latest show The Colour of Nonsense is an exuberant satire on an art and theatre world always in search of the New, filled with FF’s famed mix of film, cartoon and glorious visual trickery. At the studios of Splash, Line & Scuro, Cutting Edge Conceptualists, things have been sliding dangerously downhill of late. Paralysed by indecision they watch the bright young Turks jostling for their places on the celebrity perch. Then, in the nick of time, along comes a unique and salivatingly mysterious commission. Touring: Lighthouse, Poole 8 & 9 October; The Clocktower, Croydon 20 & 21 October; Theatre Royal Margate 23 October; Stage@Leeds, University of Leeds 28 October; and Greenroom, Manchester 29 October.
Puppets and Dolls: Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, for Take the Pose! This participative family-and-friends outdoor event gives you the chance to have your 1930s-style seaside snapshot taken. Combining puppetry, art performance, photography and new technologies, it's fun for the young, the not-so-young, and the downright ancient. Tour dates include The Big Seven, Gravesend 23 July; Inspiration Festival, London 25 July; and Lakes Alive, Penrith 1 August. For the full schedule see the website.
Sharmanka Kinetic Theatre: Hundreds of carved figures and pieces of old scrap perform an incredible choreography to haunting music and synchronised light, telling funny and tragic stories of the human spirit as it struggles against the relentless circles of life and death. Sharmanka (Russian for hurdy-gurdy) is a theatre of kinetic sculptures by Eduard Bersudsky. Currently Sharmanka can be seen at Trongate 103, Glasgow. The gallery is open Wednesday-Sunday 1-3pm; for performance times see the website.
NEWS FROM VENUES
The Puppet Theatre Barge has been on the water for 28 years and will be making its annual visit to Richmond-on-Thames this August and September with a mini-programme of three shows. In The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse two famous cousins visit each other, and both experience exciting new sights and sounds: Town Mouse meets the Billy Goats Gruff, whilst Country Mouse meets a cat and a grandfather clock (31 July – 15 August); The Hare and the Tortoise brings Aesop's well-known fables to life with beautiful carved marionettes (16 August – 5 September; 11 & 12 September; 2 & 3 October); and The Tempest adapts Shakespeare's play by combining the voices of accomplished actors on a master recording with wood and glass marionettes (28 August; 4, 11, 18, 25 September; 1 & 2 October).
Little Angel Theatre: Celebrating all things wonderful at the Little Angel, the Summer Party (4 July) is a free bug-themed party, with puppetry workshops, theatre garden installations and lots of fun. The venue also has adult courses starting in September, including Beginners and Makers/Performers Puppetry, with leading puppeteers as tutors. 7 & 8 August there's a masterclass short string marionette course with Ronnie Le Drew (maximum of ten participants; £110).
Rossendale Puppet Festival: Produced by one of the country's leading visual theatre companies, Horse + Bamboo, Rossendale Puppet Festival is a mix of shows from internationally renowned companies, participatory workshops, ongoing free entertainment, and food. This year there's a visit from Hungary's Mikropodium with STOP!, performances of Puppetcraft's The Selfish Giant, Dynamic New Animation's Chicked Licken, and La Societa Della Civelta's Droplets. 10 & 11 July at The Boo, Waterfoot.
Beverley Puppet Festival: This year, its fourth, Beverley Puppet Festival will feature nineteen companies performing over three days in three separate venues within easy reach of each other – Beverley Friary, The Leisure Centre and Armstrong’s Social Club – with 26 free outdoor performances in the town centre or the Friary Gardens. Among the highlights of the festival: an appearance from one of Britain’s best known puppeteers, Stephen Mottram, who will perform his award-winning show The Seed Carriers; Thingumajig Theatre showing their piece A November Day, a timeless fable on war and the miracle of friendship when all else seems lost; French Compagnie Via Cane performing in mediaeval costume with musical instruments and energetic rod marionettes in the Friary Garden; and a host of children's shows in the theatres and on the streets. Taking place 17-18 July. See the website for full listings.
TRAINING + PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Design and Make Puppets: Unpacked founder-member Sara Ekenger will be running a one week-course in puppet-making at Central St Martins College of Art & Design this summer, 19-23 July 2010, 10am-4pm. It's an opportunity for anyone interested in learning how to make puppets for performance use rather than just play. No prior experience is required. For further details and how to apply check the Central St Martins website.
Forkbeard Fantasy's summer schools are week-long courses that enable participants to explore the wild and diverse array of techniques, technologies and artforms used in Forkbeard’s multimedia stage, film and exhibition work. Taking place in the company's friendly and inspiring creative base in rural Devon, the summer schools are attended by artists with a wide mix of interests, skills and professions – prop-makers, designers, teachers, visual and performance artists, filmmakers, editors, animators, performers, engineers, technicians, students, architects, writers, and puppeteers. The only requirement is that applicants must be over 18. There are two courses, 2-9 July and 16-23 July, and twenty places available on each. The £750 fee includes all meals as well as accommodation. Find out how to apply on the website.