Linda Lewis, director of the Puppet Centre, writes:
We are delighted that Louise Alexander has taken up her post as our new administrator. As we draw towards the end of the year, I look back on what a busy year we have had at Puppet Centre.
We have run twelve workshops and ‘How to’ sessions, as well as supporting the UK Arts International tour of the Handspring Puppet Company’s tour of Woyzeck with workshops and masterclasses at most of the venues where the show was playing; two Puppetry Snax events; three residency programmes; two rounds of travel and training bursary applications with six awards made over the year; and at least twenty-five mentoring sessions with artists.
And yet there is still so much to do.
I am writing this letter to you from Tolosa in the Basque country in Spain where as a guest of the director Miguel Arreche I have been invited to visit his new Centre for Puppetry Arts called the Topic.
He and his executive director Idoya Otegui have planned this centre for 23 years and finally it has come to fruition. It must be one of the best puppet experiences in the world! Something we can only dream of in the UK at this time. He is considering the possibility of staging an exhibition of British puppets in 2013, which is why I am here.
There are wonderful rehearsal spaces for residencies, a fully equipped theatre, and facilities for making puppets here as well as an online research facility and a library with books and publications from all over the world. Whilst, we may not have a Centre for Puppetry Arts in England, we do have a thriving contemporary puppetry scene.
At Puppet Centre all our creative workshops have been sold out and we are in the process of planning more Puppets for the Streets workshops with Charles Beauchamp of Mandinga Arts in response to the demand for the first course. The last weekend workshop was so successful that we were left with a huge waiting list for the next workshop.
The success of the Suspense Festival (London October–November 2011) and the two events we programmed there demonstrate what a wide interest there is in contemporary puppetry. For the Directing Puppetry event we were joined by Mark Down (Blind Summit), Pete Glanville (Little Angel Theatre), Kristin Fredricksson (Beady Eye Theatre), Mark Sussman (Great Small Works), Levan Tsuladze (Kote Marjanishvili Theatre, Tiblisi) assisted by Roger McCann. It provided a stimulating afternoon with a full theatre, chaired by Dorothy Max Prior, editor of Animations Online and Total Theatre Magazine.
The workshop Choreography of Puppetry was expertly led by Nino Namicheishvili from the Marjanishvili Theatre in Tiblisi. The participants had the joy of working with the puppets from the company’s production of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin which was playing at the Mercury Theatre Colchester at the time.
At Puppet Centre we are working on the creation of a new website which I hope you will find more friendly and informative. Is there is any particular information you would find really helpful to include on our new site that should be up and running in early 2012?
I am also really interested to hear what your top three Puppet Centre events were in 2011 and why they were special for you.
Please e-mail me at the address below with your name and postal address. The first three e-mails I receive will win a set of the Animations in Print books worth £45.
I wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2012!
Director, Puppet Centre