NEWS: Autumn 2010
• Venues + Organisations
• Puppeteers + Companies
Venues + Organisations
National Theatre: In the winter of 2036, in a shabby apartment in Port Elizabeth, two old men search for a way to say goodbye after a lifetime spent together. In the perfect summer of 1971, in a very different South Africa, their handsome younger selves search for the courage to fall in love. And poised halfway between these two stories – one imagined, one remembered – their real-life counterparts bear witness to both the beginning and the ending of an incredible journey. Or You Could Kiss Me is a new play by Neil Bartlett and the second NT show to collaborate with Handspring Puppet Company (the first, of course, being War Horse). On the NT site's page for the production you can see a video interview with Bartlett that includes some lingering, secretive close-ups of the puppets themselves – a hand, a foot, a forearm – and flip through a sketchbook with workshop photos and concept drawings from Handspring. Or You Could Kiss Me premiered 28 September and runs initially until 30 October 2010.
Little Angel Theatre: Mr. Fox has three nasty enemies – Boggis, Bunce and Bean. These greedy farmers hate Mr. Fox so much that they will stop at nothing to get rid of him. They attempt to shoot, starve or dig him out of his hole, but clever Mr. Fox has a plan of his own. In LAT's own production of Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl’s classic tale of wit and determination is brought to life with ingenious puppets and enchanting music. Join Mr. Fox and his family underground as they battle to save themselves and the rest of the countryside from disaster. Running 11 September – 7 November 2010 at the Little Angel.
The World Through Wooden Eyes has a vast collection of research, essays and writing about puppets, theatre and the arts in general, and in the future will be releasing some of these in a series of Occasional Papers. The first issue, titled 'Creative Thinking and the Puppeteer', is available as a PDF here.
Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre: Among SMPC's full line-up of shows for the autumn/winter, there's Ailie Cohen's Rainbow Man, about the meeting between two lonely souls, R. Man and Cloudia (a cloud expert), 23 October 2010; Miriam Lambert's The Gingerbread Man, a puppet rendering of the traditional tale; and Pavla's Puppets' Three Wishes, about a woodcutter and his wife given a great gift by The Magic Green Man, 13 November 2010. All performances for ages 3+. See the SMPC website for full listings.
ENO: Based on Mikhail Bulgakov's once-banned satire on the New Soviet Man, Alexander Raskatov's A Dog's Heart tells of a stray mongrel who becomes human after an experimental organ transplant. But, as the Professor soon discovers to his cost, a beast is still a beast, even if it looks like a man. The ENO's new interpretation is a co-production with De Nederlandse Opera, made in collaboration with Complicite and two of the team behind Anthony Minghella's Madam Butterfly: set designer Michael Levine and puppeteers Blind Summit Theatre, who created the eerily human puppet of Butterfly's child and will here bring Sharik the dog to life. Playing 20, 22, 24, 26, 30 November and 2 & 4 December 2010.
Puppeteers + Companies
Unpacked: In Unpacked's The Show Must Go On an eccentric singing puppet arrives with her crew and their travelling piano (the guts of an old upright) to tell some stories as they attempt to get the show under way. An immersive, entertaining and highly interactive performance, using puppetry, object work, and live original music and singing, the production first appeared at Barnstaple Fringe, and will now visit rural venues in November, warming up for a bigger tour in 2011.
Oily Cart: Meet the Mole Family in their cosy, underground home, lined with straw and strewn with sweet-smelling herbs. This is a wonderland with delights underfoot, popping out from the walls and even down from the ceiling. The Musical Mole fills the cavern with sounds as we journey to meet the Silly Rabbits, the Brave Snail and encounter some problems that the Moles will need all your help to solve. Oily Cart's Mole in the Hole is an adventure for all the senses to be enjoyed by all children from 3 to 6, their families and friends. Everyone will be asked to muck in, so please don't wear your best outfit! So that everyone will have a chance to play their part, audiences are limited to just 50 per show as the audience will be required to move around the performance space. At the Unicorn Theatre, London. 4 December 2010 – 2 January 2011.
Kinetika: With applications now closed, Kinetika is in the process of awarding ten spaces on the Imagination Our Nation National Residency, which will take place 23-31 October 2010, for artists who are interested in exploring the use of projections and light to animate large-scale puppets, costumes and structures with their own team of artists and partners. For more information on the project see www.imaginationournation.co.uk
Horse + Bamboo: The small but perfectly formed Horse + Bamboo Puppet Festival ran over the weekend of 10 & 11 July 2010 – although this was only the public face of a larger and longer event that also included two week-long professional courses: John Roberts' popular ‘Wooden Puppet Carving’ in the run-up to the festival, and ‘Taking The Leap’, a Horse + Bamboo masterclass exploring mask, puppet, music and film techniques, led by Mark Whitaker and Loz Kaye, the week after. Among the performance programme was the beautiful artistry of Stop! by Andras Lenart, who flew over from Hungary for the event, Droplets by La Societa Della Civetta from Bologna, and the comic madness of Stuff and Nonsense with their 3 Little Pigs. The Rossendale weather was kind and all the outdoor events went ahead as planned – Hippochondriac by Thingumajig Theatre was a particularly popular event and the sight of an enormous hippopotamus swaggering through the terraced streets of Waterfoot was a sight to cherish and remember. Keep an eye on the Horse + Bamboo website for news of next year's festival and other projects.
Rouge28 Theatre will tour Urashima Taro across England this autumn with the support of Arts Council England. Inspired by Japanese mythology and aesthetics, Urashima Taro is a solo piece that fuses human-size Bunraku- style puppets, Japanese paper theatre and video projections to tell a fascinating story of lust, betrayal and loss. At Rose Theatre, Ormskirk 2 November; The Y, Leicester 4 November; Norwich Puppet Theatre 13 November; Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster 16 November; Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax 25 November; The Maltings Theatre and Arts Centre, Berwick-upon-Tweed 26 November; Bath Spa University 30 November and 1 December; and Rich Mix, London 18 December 2010. A post-show discussion hosted by Eleanor Margolies, editor of Puppet Notebook, will take place at Rich Mix.
Forkbeard Fantasy: Don’t miss the last chance to see Forkbeard Fantasy’s The Colour of Nonsense, their hilarious satire on an Artworld always in search of the New. Set in the studios of has-been cutting-edge conceptualists Splash Line & Scuro, aka safeart.com, it concerns the career-saving arrival of a mysterious multi-million pound commission for an Invisible Artwork. The Colour of Nonsense is touring this autumn to Lighthouse, Poole 8 & 9 October; Halliwell Theatre, Carmarthen 13 October; The Clocktower, Croydon 20 & 21 October; Theatre Royal Margate 23 October; stage@leeds, University of Leeds 28 October; Greenroom, Manchester 29 October; MAC, Birmingham 3 & 4 November; Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham 6 November; and Riverside Studios, London 9-21 November 2010.
You can see a trailer for the show here.
Objects Dart Following a recent appearance on BBC Radio Coventry where puppeteer Drew Colby demonstrated the basics of shadow puppetry for the listeners at home (a radio first!), Objects Dart are currently touring with their shows Shadow Tails, Stories on a Shoestring, and Salt. See their website for dates and locations.
Touched Theatre are developing their second show following the creation of the object animation piece Human Remains in 2009. Having relocated to Brighton, the company is working on a new piece for 7-11 year olds combining puppetry with new writing inspired by our relationship with the sea. Blending beautifully made puppets by Max Humphries, an evocative shanty-inspired score by Foz Foster and Hannah Miller, and exploring, amongst other things, the amazing science of butterfly migrations, the show, performed by Darren East, will be touring from May 2011.
Collisions: The Central School of Speech and Drama's Collisions Festival is an eclectic gathering of theatre, dance and puppetry performance, installations, workshops and lecture/demonstrations by current PhD students and Research Fellows at Central School of Speech & Drama. Collisions stages a confrontation with standard expectations and viewpoints. It seeks to explore new ways of doing and making; to stage new modalities of engagement and reception; to create new possibilities of spectatorship. Combining vigorous practice and advanced research, each work in its own way expands and challenges the boundaries of the field. Collisions runs 5-9 October 2010; you can see the full programme here.