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HONORARY FELLOWSHIP FOR PENNY FRANCIS
On 10 December 2008, Central School of Speech and Drama (CSSD) honoured three outstanding theatre practitioners at its annual graduation ceremony at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London. Three Honorary Fellowships were given: to Harold Pinter (an alumni who was to be inaugurated as Central's new President, before the sad news of his death came through); to comedian Jo Brand; and to our very own Penny Francis MBE, who was aptly described by Central as ‘puppetry pioneer Penny Francis’.
In her acceptance speech, Penny praised the Central School, where she teaches, as the first drama college to recognise ‘the powerful and magnetic tool of the puppet.'
Penny Francis is well-known – in the puppetry community, within higher education, and throughout the broader arts world – as the leading light of the Puppet Centre Trust (founded in 1974); as the inaugural editor (now contributing editor) of Animations, the UK’s leading journal for puppetry and related arts; and as an inspirational teacher who has been at the forefront of Central School of Speech and Drama’s advocacy of the art of puppetry and the integration of puppetry and animation into the training of practitioners of collaborative and devised theatre.
Penny has contributed an article to the next edition of Animations in Print on CSSD’s pioneering work in puppetry and related arts.
Further information on the publication from email@example.com
For more on Central, see www.cssd.ac.uk
PUPPETEERS AND COMPANY NEWS
Puppeteer and mask performer Jonny Dixon is currently working on his one-man show Muzzle. Muzzle takes the classic tale of Peter and the Wolf and gives it a gleefully dark twist. Set in Stalingrad – a city battered by the Second World War – the show blends strange characters, startling masks, wonderfully wonky puppetry, animated sets and atmospheric sound. In turns comic, tragic and wonderfully strange, Muzzle is a dynamic theatrical treat that will delight all audiences from 12+. Watch out for it on tour later in 2009 – a three-minute minute DVD taster can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6dLu4WAKi8 The show will be produced by Farnham Maltings and developed in collaboration with Green Ginger. For more information call 07960 763315.
BLIND SUMMIT THEATRE
Following recent successes (which have included Shun-Kin with Complicite, at Barbican BITE; the revived Low Life which returned triumphant to BAC, before touring to Sri Lanka; and the live broadcast in cinemas across the country from the New York Met of Madama Butterfly), Blind Summit are now collaborating with Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company and West Yorkshire Playhouse to design, make and direct the puppets on a new large scale production of His Dark Materials. Based on the trilogy of novels by Philip Pullman, Nicholas Wright's adapted stage version of His Dark Materials premiered at the National Theatre in 2004. This new production is directed by Rachel Kavanaugh, designed by Ruari Murchison, with puppetry by Blind Summit Theatre. It opened at Birmingham Rep on 13 March, and runs for five weeks before touring the UK. www.blindsummit.com
Dynamic New Animation (DNA) have changed their name to DNA Puppetry and Visual Theatre. Artistic Director Rachel Riggs is currently engaged in further training, studying for an MA in Fine Art - Site and Archive Intervention as well as CETAD Early Years Professional Status at Lancaster University. DNA are supplying high-quality arts training and activities to theatres, arts centres, children’s centres and nurseries. Two new strands of work for the company are: Imaginary Leaps, a package of bespoke arts kits, performances, training and workshops specifically targeted to enhance creative play in early years settings and the very young in theatres (as part of which Ball Pond Bobby is playing at the Waterside, Sale on 22 May, Salisbury Festival on 28 May, and Stratford Circus on 30 May); and Thurtinkle’s World, a character-led storytelling initiative for 5-11 year olds combining live appearances, web-based interaction and reading materials (with a touring performance, Terry Jones Fairy Tales, visiting the Spark International Children’s Festival in Leicester 7 & 8 June, among other venues). See www.dnapuppetry.wordpress.com
The Vacated Works is an exhibition of Teresa Grimaldi’s most recent body of work, bringing together, video, installation, puppets, paintings and objects in a shared sense of absence. Running 23 May – 20 June at Quayarts (Newport, Isle of Wight), the exhibition will experience small changes throughout its duration and Teresa will be present each Saturday from 10am-12pm and 2-5pm to inhabit the space, perform household chores with puppet friends, and endeavour to make the work more ‘homely’. For more details on the exhibition and surrounding performances (including Puppets Itch, an experimental live puppet scratch performance), see www.quayarts.org and www.teresagrimaldi.co.uk
2008 was a phenomenal year for Objects Dart, some of the highlights being invitations to and performances at no less than six national and international festivals throughout the year. 2009 promises to be equally spectacular, with invitations to perform at Dynamics 2009 and the Skipton Puppet Festival, and the company’s first tour of Scotland so far. Objects Dart's newest show Tom Tit Tot is now touring. The performance builds on the success and style of the previous shows, where object theatre in conjunction with dynamically paced storytelling and shadows creates a magical world where the imagination of the audience is all and where the technical heart of the piece is always exposed.
Blunderbus are back with a brand new production, Grandpa Joe's Magic Show. Grandpa Joe has gone away to live with the angels and everyone is really sad. Meet Molly Moon – she doesn't understand why everyone is sad as when she thinks about Grandpa Joe she remembers all the wonderful memories of him, including his fantastic magic shows. Join Molly and her best friends Waggy Dog and Anastasia the Cat as they embark on a top secret mission to make Mum smile again. Set against a wonderful original score and brought to life with magnificent handcrafted puppets, Blunderbus bring a story full of adventure that will warm the coldest of hearts!
Look out for Grandpa Joe's Magic Show as it tours across the UK at various theatres – listings on the company’s new website: www.blunderbus.co.uk
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
Flotsam & Jetsam, aka Lobster & Jackson, have developed a new show, The Key in the Sea, which played at The Little Angel Theatre 11-15 March. Princess Brunhilde runs away from home, fed up with being ignored by her royal parents, and has to spend the night in an old tower by the sea, not knowing that a greedy sea monster would like to have her as a snack. Knut, a courageous fisherman who lives on an island in the middle of the Seven Seas, finds a bottle with Brunhilde's shriek for help. But who will eventually be the hero of the day? The show is performed with puppets made from driftwood and other natural materials; it is aimed at family audiences and lasts about half an hour. See ww.myspace.com/flotsamandjetsamtheatre
Tangled Tales Puppet Theatre are debuting their new children’s show, What’s That Noise?, at this year’s Brighton Festival Fringe, 22-24 May, Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton. Devised by three former Central students, with music composed/performed by Dominic Flook, audiences follow the antics of four farmyard friends as they embark on a journey to find the mysterious Reg. This interactive show aims to teach children about roles and responsibility, whilst reinforcing the importance of a positive self-image. Tickets available from Brighton Festival box office: 01273 709709.
See www.tangledtalespuppettheatre.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org
VENUES AND OTHER ARTS ORGANISATIONS
PUPPET THEATRE BARGE
Three shows at the Puppet Barge for the spring/summer: A Child’s Garden of Verse, a kaleidoscope of poetry and rhyme inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s book, with marionettes and shadow puppets; The Three Pigs and the Wolf,
a witty rendering of the popular tale complemented by specially commissioned music and script; and Captain Grimey, introducing the dirtiest, most miserable, one-legged sea captain in the world who likes nothing better than to pollute our seas. For full details including dates
email email@example.com or see www.puppetbarge.com
THE LITTLE ANGEL THEATRE
5 April Theatre of Widdershins will be presenting Rapunzel and the Tower of Doom as part of LAT’s Spring Visitors season. Tangles? Split Ends? Frizzy? It's hard enough having a bad hair day but pity poor Rapunzel, spending her life in a tower with a wicked witch using her captive's locks as a step ladder! Theatre of Widdershins take the Grimm tale right back to its dark roots, teasing out the tangles and styling it into a beautifully coiffed hairpiece. Also part of the Visitors programme, 4-13 April The Puppetellers will be performing Videk’s Shirt, an adaptation of a much-loved Slovenian children's story by Fran Levstik. Videk is a small boy who is very friendly with all the animals in the countryside. One day the wind blows away his raggedy shirt. Videk is cold – who can help him? Come with Videk on a journey with his animal friends and learn how the sheep's wool is made into a lovely new warm shirt. See www.littleangeltheatre.com
NORWICH PUPPET THEATRE
Things are moving apace in Norwich with the appointment of a new Board of Trustees who bring a wealth of expertise and energy to take NPT forward. A busy, successful half-term has kept the team on their toes and they look forward to a deliciously whimsical Easter with Hand to Mouth presenting The Dragon’s Tale 7-9 April and a bit of underwater sleuthing 11-12 April when Mousetale Puppets lead us down to the briny with Oscar and the Deep Sea Pearl. Lempen Puppets then take us on The Journey of Turtle 14 & 15 April, and Easter rounds off 16 April with the hilarious Circo Ridiculoso who are Lighter Than Air. See
KELVINGROVE ART GALLERY & MUSEUM PUPPET THEATRE WEEKEND
Everything you ever wanted to know about the art and craft of the puppet theatre in two days of events presented by John M. Blundall and Stephen Foster! John is recognised as one of the worlds leading puppet masters and creator of characters from Fireball XL5, Stingray, and Thunderbirds, including ‘Parker’ who will be on show during the weekend. Stephen Foster, specialist in Japanese puppets and Noh masks, will be demonstrating the carving techniques for puppets and masks. There will be two performance presentations, An Illusion of Life, showing a wide range of puppets old and new, from Punch to Parker, also some creative play techniques and an opportunity to ask questions. Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Argyle Street, Glasgow.
Saturday and Sunday, April 11th and 12th, 2009, from 11am to 4pm.
Performance at 2pm each afternoon. Admission Free.
THE WORLD THROUGH WOODEN EYES
The World Through Wooden Eyes and The Ideas Shop and The John M. Blundall Collection is a major research resource of international importance. The collection puppets, masks, books and other related material are permanently on show at the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Open daily at 1pm to 5pm daily except Sunday. See www.theworldthroughwoodeneyes.co.uk
Crafty Kids’ 21 puppet kits have sold extremely well in 2008! So 2009 will see four new puppet kits – Bird, Tiger, Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn, due out in May. All kits come in a spotted cardboard tub, complete with full instructions, all constituent parts, paints, a good quality brush, glue and special tags for threading the puppets together.
All cardboard parts and packaging are made from post-consumer waste paper pulp and can also be recycled again once finished with.
All kits are EN71 passed and ideally aimed at children 4+. With a RRP of £10 they make the perfect gift.
Contact Sally Preisig (firstname.lastname@example.org ) for trade details, or see the website for stockists in your area: www.craftykids.co.uk
TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
LITTLE ANGEL: BUNRAKU IN BRITAIN
Why was the encounter with Japanese puppetry such a shock for British puppeteers? What does ‘bunraku-style’ really mean? How have Japanese techniques and aesthetics been learnt or reinvented by puppeteers working in Britain today? On 2 April at 8pm the Little Angel Theatre will host a public discussion with contributions from Nenagh Watson (puppeteer, Barking Dog), Mark Down (puppeteer, Blind Summit) and Elizabeth Ingrams (author of Japan Through Writers’ Eyes, Eland Books 2009). The discussion follows the performance of Urashima Taro by Rouge28 Theatre at LAT.
See www.rouge28theatre.co.uk or email email@example.com