Welcome to the first edition of Animations Online for 2011!
As the year starts, it is time once again for the London International Mime Festival, who have been consistent supporters of puppetry over many decades, programming the best of ‘adult puppet theatre’ both from the UK and from across the world. It is gratifying to note that their opening show this year is a puppet-theatre piece by Spanish puppet-theatre company Teatro Corsario – the festival continuing, as always, to place puppetry at the heart of its programme of contemporary visual theatre. Other companies featured include the UK’s Faulty Optic with new show Flogging a Dead Horse – tickets for which sold out almost as soon as the tickets went on sale – and a new venture from Patrick Sims (formerly of Buchinger’s Boot Marionettes), Les Antliaclastes, whose first show Hilum makes its UK debut at the ICA Theatre.
LIMF has shown that there is an educated audience for grown-up puppet theatre – yet the critics seem often to lag behind the public. In this edition of Animations Online you’ll find an interview with Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones of Handspring Puppet Company, in which writer Jeremy Bidgood notes Telegraph critic Charles Spencer's review of Or You Could Kiss Me in which he mentions his 'longstanding aversion to puppetry', apparently with no sense of shame. How extraordinary that this is considered a reasonable view for a theatre critic! I am also reminded that Michael Billington’s review of the same show included a musing on why these characters needed to be portrayed by puppets rather than human actors. ‘Because they are, and that is the form the artists making the piece choose to work in’ would be the obvious response. It is clear that although we have a number of enlightened critics working for the national newspapers (including Lyn Gardner of the Guardian and Donald Hutera of The Times) we have a long way to go yet. Handspring point out that there are few critics who understand or appreciate the form. Enter Animations Online and its dedicated team of writers and reviewers! We hope you’ll appreciate the wide range of shows reviewed in this edition. And we are still aiming to increase our coverage across the UK, so if you live outside of London and wish to be considered as a reviewer for Animations magazine, please email me on email@example.com
Harping back to an ongoing discussion within the Animations editorial team on the exact meaning of the ‘related arts’ that we cover alongside ‘puppetry’: you’ll find in this edition a report on a PCT instigated workshop-lecture on animation in live performance led by Paul Barritt of 1927, whose latest hit show, The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, was the grand success of BAC’s winter season success, now set to appear at Manipulate festival in Scotland and then tour further afield throughout 2011. In its interactions between live and filmed animations, this multi-media visual theatre show of the highest calibre is a wonderful example of what some might call ‘puppetesque’ performance. See Penny Francis’s review of the show in this edition.
Talking of the broader world of animation and visual theatre in relation to puppetry: in October, the Puppet Centre Trust collaborated with the Independent Street Arts Network and the Carnival Arts Centre in Luton in the creation of the Big Ideas conference and workshop event – an opportunity for artists, producers and other interested parties to spend two days learning and sharing information on large-scale work for outdoor events. We bring a you a report from this very successful event, and news of a new publication in the pipeline of interest to anyone working on the crossroads of puppetry, large-scale animation and street arts: Animating the Outdoors – A User’s Guide (to be published in 2011 by University of Winchester).
We hope that you enjoy this edition of Animations Online – and if you have any proposals for future editions, the editorial team are always pleased to receive them.
Dorothy Max Prior