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NEWS: Summer 2011

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Companies + Puppeteers
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Handspring Puppet Company, co-creators of the multi-award winning War Horse and the National Theatre production Or You Could Kiss Me, are coming to the Barbican in September with their critically acclaimed Woyzeck on the Highveld. Originally created in 1992 and directed and designed by renowned artist and film-maker William Kentridge, this 2011 revival is directed by Luc de Wit. The production, an adaptation of German writer Georg Büchner's famous play of jealousy, murder and the struggle of an individual against an uncaring society which eventually destroys him, was the first collaboration between Handspring and Kentridge. 

Woyzeck on the Highveld combines Handspring’s rod-manipulated puppets and Kentridge’s animated film, graphically illustrating Woyzeck’s tortured mind as he tries to make sense of his external circumstances. Büchner's Woyzeck was a German soldier in the 1800s but in this version Woyzeck is a migrant worker in 1956 Johannesburg, a landscape of barren industrialisation.

Woyzeck is at the Barbican as part of a UK and European tour, with further UK performances at Warwick Arts Centre (11-15 October); Lyric Theatre, Belfast Festival (18-22 October); Wales Millennium Centre (25 & 26 October); Aberystwyth Arts Centre (28 & 29 October); Hall for Cornwall (1 & 2 November); Exeter Northcott (4 & 5 November); and Oxford Playhouse (8-12 November).

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Forkbeard Fantasy: Cinemagic, Forkbeard's new show for families and children about Special Effects in Cinema, commissioned by The National Media Museum in Bradford, is now open and will run all year and probably beyond. The company are also making three new FF interactive peep-show installations for the newly restored Durlston Castle and its Visitor Centre at Durlston Country Park in Swanage, Dorset.

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Oily Cart: Tim Webb, founder member and artistic director of Oily Cart, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Tim, a founder member of the theatre company, has been recognised for his commitment to creating theatre for very young children and children and young people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and those with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Oily Cart's new production, Gorgeous, a show for children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and/or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder which turns schools into oases of beautiful fragrances, will tour ten SEN primary and secondary schools during September and October 2011.

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Rouge28 Theatre will be busy touring Urashima Taro in several venues and festivals in September and October this year. The company have been invited to perform at Bridport Art Centre (Dorset) 10 September, Sevenoaks School 15 September, at the World Festival of Puppet Theatres in Charleville-Mézières 18-19 September, Skipton Puppet Festival 24 September, and at Suspense Festival 30 October. Rouge28 have also been selected to present an extract of Urashima Taro at Decibel Performing Arts Showcase organised in Manchester by Arts Council England. More information and details are available at www.rouge28theatre.co.uk


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Training + Professional Development
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Making a Giant Willow Puppet Workshop: Vision Mechanics are offering a one-week workshop, Making a Giant Willow Puppet, in Edinburgh 5-10 September 10am-5pm. The aim of the course is to guide participants through designing, constructing and using a Giant Willow Puppet, and it's suitable both for beginners and more experienced makers. All tools and materials will be provided. The course leader will be Kim Bergsagel. See the Vision Mechanics website or email anne@visionmechanics.org or call 0131 554 8923.

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Adult Puppet Performers Course – Glove and Table Top: Held at Little Angel Theatre this is a puppetry course for all those who are interested in developing puppetry performance skills. Participants will learn the art of performing with glove and table top puppets, and will not only pick up new skills but will be supported in creating a short piece of theatre (performed on the Little Angel Theatre stage on 13 December) using the techniques learnt. The term will culminate in a showcase performance for friends and family. This course also includes a show visit followed by a post-show chat with the puppeteers and a backstage tour. The course is held Wednesday evenings, 7.30-9.30pm, and runs 5 October – 13 December. £165 per person / £115 concessions. For more information see the Little Angel Theatre website.

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Festivals
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Bristol Festival of Puppetry: Inaugurated in 2009, the biennial Bristol Festival of Puppetry has its second edition this year 26 August – 4 September. Alongside work by  Bristolians Pickled Image (presenting Little Edie), Wattle & Daub Figure Theatre (Triptych) and Soap Soup (Little Red Riding Hood), there's an outing for Stephen Mottram's long-running piece The Seas of Organillo, a show by Ulrike Quade Company, Jo Strømgren Kompani and Nordland Visual Theatre about the Nobel Prize winning writer Knut Hamsun (The Writer), and performances of Blind Summit's latest work, The Table. In the extensive sub-programme of workshops and talks there are opportunities to work with Nenagh Watson, Rusty Squid, Aardman and Wakka Wakka. For more details see the festival website.

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Canterbury Festival: Building on the strong physical/visual strand from last year's programme, Canterbury Festival is back this year with a wide-ranging and unusual line-up that includes a couple of puppetry, mask and animation pieces: The River People will be performing another dark, tiny folk tale, Little Matter, outdoors on the Gulbenkian Theatre's lawn; Night Light Theatre will present an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet which, if nothing else, guarantees some stunning puppets; Invisible Thread Theatre of Animation will use live video-feed painting, object theatre, puppetry and animation to tell Plucked... A True Fairy Tale; and Slingshot Theatre will show The Zanniskinheads and the Quest for the Holy Balls, Commedia dell'Arte updated for the atomic age.

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Suspense London International Puppetry Festival will return 28 October – 6 November, presenting in ten venues across the capital including Little Angel, The Roundhouse, the V & A, Wiltons Music Hall, The Pleasance, Jacksons Lane and Central School of Speech and Drama. The programme is as yet unannounced, so keep an eye on the Suspense website for information and updates.

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Venues
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Little Angel Theatre: In a busy autumn/winter season, Little Angel Theatre have programmed Indefinite Article's The Chalk Giants, an exploration of the many myths and legends surrounding giants, written by poet John Agard (28 & 29 September), as well as the company's version of Pinocchio (29 – 2 October); a second-generation puppet circus spectacular, Noisy Oyster's The DaSilva Marionette Circus (5-9 October); Banyan Theatre's adaptation of The Steadfast Tin Soldier (12-16 October); and Indigo Moon's Aladdin, a large-scale contemporary shadow puppet interpretation of the story of the poor street boy who falls hopelessly in love with a princess. For all shows and more information see the Little Angel Theatre website.

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Norwich Puppet Theatre: In July of this year Norwich Puppet Theatre appointed Joy Haynes as its new director. Joy has established a highly-regarded reputation as a director of puppet theatre working with many of the UK's leading companies. She has earned recognition for her work with Banyan Theatre Company, her teaching, and the development of puppetry-centered educational programmes. NPT are very grateful that funding for this post has been provided as part of the resources received from the Monument Trust to cover the next three years, and a key responsibility of the director will be to secure the long-term future of the venue following the withdrawal of Arts Council funding in 2008.


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