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NEWS: Spring 2011...

/Puppeteers + Companies
/Venues
/Festivals
/Training + Professional Development

Misc.

Puppeteers + Companies
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Small World Theatre's latest spectacular show, The Healing of Bran the Blessed / Iachau Bendigeidfr, is a seminal tale of leadership, betrayal and hope acted out by a giant 25-foot puppet. The show is the story of Bendigeidfr's personal sacrifice – the story of a King's love for his family, people and lands, which, after much treachery, battling and sorrow, ends with conciliation. For over a millennium the implicit wisdom in this influential tale from The Mabinogion has been directing and guiding its many readers in Wales and beyond. Small World Theatre feel it is now time to bring the story into the 21st century and share its wisdom with a much wider audience. The performance was recently shown in the town of New Ross in the Irish Republic, and will next play at the Iniscealtra Festival of Arts, Mountshannon in June 2011.

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Tortoise in a Nutshell's The Last Miner will be touring the UK this April and May. A show for audiences aged 7 and up, The Last Miner is the story of a man who has locked himself away in the disused mine he used to work. The piece achieved great success at the 2010 Edinburgh Fringe (where it was shortlisted for the Arches Brick Award) and at the 2011 Manipulate Festival. For full details see the company's website or find them on Facebook under Tortoise in a Nutshell.

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Pif-Paf have been selected as one of the three Puppet Centre Trust 'Puppets About' resident artists. The company will be resident at mac in Birmingham and PCT for a year starting in April, and will use the residency to explore object transformation, impulse, aerial and dance through their human counterbalance crane. The company are also currently re-developing Honey and the Bee Cart (supported by the Co-operative's Plan Bee); bringing out the sleepy elephant Trunk as a walkabout; building two three-metre alien children puppets for London Bubble; and making The Fly-cycle for Sheffield Council, a pedal-powered-mobile-flight-of-fancy-simulator.

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Estelle Rosenfeld: Roll up, roll up, for the new tour of Take the Pose! Outdoor art for the young, the not-so-young, and the downright ancient. Come and take part in a sideshow reviving the tradition of the seaside snapshotAt Sterfeesten, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium 14 May; Ryarsh Summer Fete 11 June; Dunton Green Primary School Fete 18 June; FUSE  Big Tea Party, Medway 19 June; Swanscombe and Greenhithe Community Festival 25 June. 

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Beautiful Creatures Performance Group present The AirQuarium [right], an outdoor underwater experience featuring the world's largest portable pop-up aquarium, beautiful electronic music, and incredible mechanical fish puppets by Max Dorey. Transported to an observatory underneath the Pacific rubbish dump, audiences encounter strange and beautiful creatures who have evolved to incorporate their new environment as they come to play around the tank. A hilarious and magical outdoor puppet show experience, The AirQuarium has been supported by South Hill Park Arts Centre and funded by Arts Council England. Touring festivals and outdoor events this summer.

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DNA: While Adam Bennett and Rachel Riggs (with Thurtinkle, their magical, storytelling Gnome puppet) are further researching and developing theatre for young people and early years in Western Australia, in their absence DNA continues to tour across the UK with a new performance for over 5s: The Frog Prince and Other Peculiar Tales, performed by Liz Fitzgerald Taylor. This is a fast-moving, fun fairytale-fuelled hour of storytelling with object theatre, shadow puppetry and marvellous mask work! Mark Whitaker also continues to tour with the ever loveable Chicken Licken and Imaginary Leaps continues to push the boundaries of early years engagement in art galleries, children's centres, museums and theatres in the UK and WA! For up-to-date information on shows and activities, check out DNA's blog.

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Venues
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Little Angel Theatre: 9 April 5 May LAT in association with the Royal Shakespeare Company will be presenting an adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest. On a magical island a powerful magician summons the elements to seek revenge against his brother supernatural spirits lead young lovers and shipwrecked sailors on a chaotic journey around an island brought to spectacular and confusing life. Suitable for ages 7 to adult.

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Puppet Barge: May July the Puppet Theatre Barge will be presenting Deborah Jones' Red Riding Hood and the Wolf who tried to eat her [left]. Specially commissioned by the company, this prize-winning writer has retold the popular story with poetic beauty and humour, adding a new twist to the tale. Presented with marionettes and shadow puppets, original music, lighting and effects, the show has been created for both adults and children. See the website for spring and summer dates. 

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Festivals
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Hatch Festival: Little Angel Theatre are currently seeking expressions of interest for their upcoming Hatch Festival (20-25 September 2011). They're looking for developmental work that involves puppetry and can run for a minimum of fifteen minutes. Each night the 2-3 companies/artists presenting work will each be designated 3-4 hours tech time at the theatre. The aim is to create a supportive atmosphere where ?cratchprojects can receive feedback from audience members. The festival was a huge success in 2010, with twelve companies participating and average audiences of 60 per night. LAT charge £5 for audience members to come in and split the proceeds 50/50 between participating companies and Little Angel. If you're interested email info@littleangeltheatre.com

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7th International Paper Theatre Meeting: Taking place 25-29 May 2011 and celebrating the bicentenary of paper theatre, the International Paper Theatre Meeting will be held across twenty towns in France's  Champagne region and will feature performances from sixteen companies alongside a major exhibition covering the history of the paper theatre artform. There's also a workshop, Dramaturgy and Directing in Paper Theatre, that ties in with the performances: in the first phase participants go to all the shows, afterwards meeting the performers; and in the second they spend two weeks (30 May 11 June) working on dramaturgy, technique and directing with Joseph Danan, Alain Lecucq and Narguess Majd. Cost is 500 Euros. For more information see the website.

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Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival: The 36th Annual Covent Garden May Fayre and Puppet Festival will be held this year on Sunday 8 May 2011 to celebrate Mr Punch's 349th birthday, near the very spot that Samuel Pepys first saw Mr Punch in England in May 1662. The Fayre will take place in the garden of St Paul's Church, and will start with a colourful procession, at 10.30am, led by the Superior Brass Band, with performances beginning at 11.30am and continuing until about 5.30pm.

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Skipton International Puppet Festival: Against all odds Skipton International Puppet Festival has managed to attract enough sponsorship and support to continue with the 4th festival in its biennial tradition. With a substantial grant from Arts Council England and The National Lottery and strong support from Business Improvement District Skipton (BIDS) together with other smaller grants and sponsorships, Skipton International Puppet Festival is scheduled to take place 23-25 September 2011, and to feature about 25 companies from Germany, France, Finland and Hungary in amongst a great selection from the UK. In this year's festival there will also be a significant development in local community involvement with a community parade featuring puppets made in pre-festival workshops. The parade will also include four giant sheep puppets and a sheep dog made in Skipton by local people as part of a twelve-day workshop residency.

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Shambala Festival: After the success of last year's puppetry tent, in 2011 Shambala Festival are going all the way with a dedicated evening space for puppetry in all its forms. This year's festival will take place 25-28 August, and the organisers are inviting puppeteers, shadow performers and the like to suggest ideas and performances via the applications page.

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Puppet Animation Festival: Spread over venues across Scotland, the Puppet Animation Festival offers children and their families opportunities to be transported to magical worlds of make-believe. This year the festival runs 2-26 April, with performances from Folding Theatre, Mimika Theatre, The Puppet Lab, Garlic Theatre, Yugen Puppet Company, Over the Top Puppet Company, and many others. For full details of the festival's productions see the website.

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Training + Professional Development
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Pageant Puppetry Workshop in Italy: Learn to create large-scale puppets and other visual elements for site-specific community pageants in collaboration with local residents of a remote village in the Italian Alps. Led by processional artists Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles (whose puppets lead NYC's renowned Annual Halloween Parade), workshop participants create new works each year for the event, drawing on the oral histories, agrarian rituals, folklore, dance, and ecology of a little-known corner of Occitan Italy. For visiting participants, the event serves as a community arts laboratory that explores techniques for building large-scale puppets and processional elements, as well as strategies for developing site-specific events in general. Beyond the basic workshop in pageant-building, the week includes Occitan step-dancing sessions, trips to nearby Medieval churches and cheese farms, and other unpredictable wonders. Families/children welcome; no Italian language or puppetry experience required. The workshop is conducted in English, but the course leaders speak Italian and French as well. 18-26 June 2011. For registration details and more info see www.superiorconcept.org/Morinesio

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The World of Hungarian Fables and Contemporary Puppet Theatre: Debrecen Summer School and the Vojtina Puppet Theatre of Debrecen will this year launch a new type of summer school for those who wish to get an insight into the diverse nature of contemporary Hungarian puppetry via the folklore, customs and traditions of the trade itself. Students will become acquainted with the critical parts of Hungarian county-fair puppetry by making sense of the diversity of the artform. Practitioners will offer help so that participants can try their hand at the theatrical elements of puppet theatre: stage movement, puppet-making, moving puppets, planning routines, design techniques, special effects, etc. Workshop activities will culminate in the making of a full collaborative performance all the way from selecting a tale to staging it. 17-30 July 2011. For more info and price structures email debrecen@nyariegyetem.hu or see www.nyariegyetem.hu

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Getting a Tour on the Road: On 21 April at BAC the Puppet Centre Trust will present Getting a Tour on the Road, one of a recent series of business-related workshops PCT has organised for artists. The workshop will be led by Mark Makin, who has wide experience of booking tours himself and knows the pitfalls and the secrets of success. 10am – 6pm; £32 per person. To reserve your place email linda.lewis@puppetcentre.org.uk

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Miscellaneous
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Object Theatre Networking Scheme: A successful Arts & Humanities Research Council award has been made to Sean Myatt (principal investigator), Senior Lecturer in Theatre Design, Nottingham Trent University, and Dan Watt (co-investigator), Senior Lecturer in English and Drama Loughborough University, to create a research network to debate emerging understandings of Object Theatre The network's focus will be to explore the artform's interdisciplinary history, clarify its methodology, and identify fruitful research questions and teaching methods. An Object Theatre website will go live at www.objecttheatre.org from the beginning of May to keep people informed about new developments and events. Website content will include transcriptions of discussions with practitioners, monthly articles, a forum, and an editorial.

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