Whilst London now has a dedicated puppetry festival in the form of Suspense, let us not forget that for the past
Whilst London now has a dedicated puppetry festival in the form of Suspense, let us not forget that for the past three decades and more, the London International Mime Festival has been flying the flag for puppetry and animation, both homegrown and from far-flung lands.
In that first ‘homegrown’ group come Blind Summit, whose work has been consistently supported by LIMF over the years. Their latest show The Table comes to London hot on the heels of a phenomenal success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where it won a Fringe First, a batch of rave reviews, and a packed house throughout its run. The show opens the 2012 festival at Soho Theatre, a new venue for LIMF (and this further evidence of the continuing breakdown of barriers between ‘new writing’ and ‘visual theatre’).
From elsewhere – Australia to be more precise – come Fleur Elise Noble with 2 Dimensional Life of Her, a work of ‘light and shadows’ that uses drawing, animation, puppetry, projection, and paper. Presented at the Barbican’s Silk Street Theatre.
Tête de Pioche, from France, present Fragments de Vie at the Roundhouse – an elemental performance/installation piece described as ‘a cabinet of curiosities… an atmospheric journey in nine stages conjuring sights and sounds of an almost vanished rural world’.
Festival favourites Faulty Optic are no more – but from the ashes has risen Liz Walker’s Invisible Thread. They appeared previously at LIMF with a three-part work-in-progress called Fish, Clay, Perspex and here return with what might be viewed as their first fully-fledged show, Plucked, which also plays at the Roundhouse.
Then, there are two mask-theatre shows. Kulunka Teatro hail from Spain, and bring Andre and Dorinne to the festival (Southbank Centre), an ‘uplifting and thought provoking’ look at the effect Altzeimers disease has on an elderly couple. Also giving attention to the subject of old age are UK company Theatre Ad Infinitum. Translunar Paradise (playing at the Barbican) is a story about ‘life, death and enduring love’. Like Blind Summit’s The Table, Translunar Paradise was a massive hit at the Edinburgh Fringe 2011. It was shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award and described as ‘A near-perfect example of contemporary wordless theatre ‘, the Total Theatre review continuing that to say that the show was ‘proof (should anyone need it) that theatre without words can engage the head, touch the heart, and nourish the soul just as effectively as any other form.’
Last, an Animations wild card suggestion: Camille Boitel’s L’Immédiat is a circus show, but images and publicity suggest an interesting relationship with objects in the piece: ‘On a stage crammed with machinery, objects, junk and bric-a-brac of every kind… a tumultuous, visual commentary on the uncertainty and mayhem of modern times’.
The London International Mime Festival was founded in 1977 and has subsequently become one of the world’s most influential visual theatre festivals – if you’ve never been, don’t miss the chance in 2012. If you’re a regular, you’ll know that it’s a trove of theatrical treasures!
The London International Mime Festival runs 11 – 29 January 2012.
For information on all the above shows and more, see www.mimefest.co.uk
For venue details and online bookings, click here.
Top image: Blind Summit The Table (image modified by Gabriel Foster Prior)
Image below left: Tête de Pioche Fragments de Vie
Images bottom strip l to r: Camille Boitel L’Immédiat, Invisible
Thread Plucked, Kulunka Teatro Andre and Dorinne, Fleur Elise
Noble 2 Dimensional Life of Her
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