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AO 22: spring 2008

NEWS AND NOTICEBOARD

> News from puppeteers and companies
> News from puppetry organisations
> Courses and professional development events
> Publications, film and other media




NEWS FROM PUPPETEERS AND COMPANIES

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DING FOUNDATION

The Ding Foundation’s new show Hanging by a Thread plays 26 February - 16 March at the Little Angel Theatre in the heart of Islington, London. Although the company has not made a piece for three years, they have nonetheless made an impression on the visual/object theatre community with their two previous productions Unexploded Bomb and Being a Bird. Their new production is a BAC scratch commission, and is supported by the Little Angel Theatre. The company have previously performed at BAC, People Show Studios, Unity Theatre Liverpool, Prema Arts Centre, Bath Puppet Festival, Micro festival Dordrecht, Visions Festival Brighton, Torun Puppet Festival Poland, and the Warsaw School of Puppetry Bialystock. They were BAC supported artists 2003 & 2004. The company hopes to play Hanging by a Thread at more venues in the summer and autumn 2008 and spring 2009. See www.myspace.com/thedingfoundation  and www.youtube.com/thedingfoundation

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DNA

DNA is currently touring its newest show, Dr. Nose Travels Through Time, which has been created by an experienced DNA team including Director Rachel Riggs, puppeteer Adam Bennett and performer Stephanie Ridings.  Steve Wright from The Wright Stuff provides specialist direction, and the original music is by Channel 4 award-winning Verbal Vigilante. The show is aimed at ages 5 to 11 and uses puppetry and original music to accompany Thurtinkle’s travels through time. DNA is also hosting the next Earlyarts meeting on March 4th at Worden Arts Centre, Leyland, where the findings of our early years pilot project, Imaginary Leaps, will be presented. For more info see www.dynamicnewanimation.co.uk  or email info@dynamicnewanimation.co.uk

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HORSE + BAMBOO

The spring season at the Boo, Horse + Bamboo’s theatre space, offers a colourful, fun and entertaining program of puppetry, film, poetry, magic and visual theatre for both children and adults. The season began Sunday 13 January, with the showing of My Neighbour Totorofrom the acclaimed director of Spirited Away and Kiki’s Delivery Service, Hayao Miyaki. In March Mishimou present their gloriously eccentric The 3 Little Pigs, a multilayered show suitable for adults that subverts the children’s classic (7th March); Horse + Bamboo present special showings of their new project Veil (28 & 28 March); and No Nonsense Theatre perform Romeo and Juliet (30 March). In April there will be a spring ceilidh from the Moonraker Band (11 April) and a showing of Lempen Puppet Theatre’s Journey of Turtle (20 April). See www.horseandbamboo.org

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INDIGO MOON 
    
                                                                             
Indigo Moon Theatre is undertaking national theatre touring of its new production Alice & the White Rabbit. This show, for families (age 4+), was inspired by the gothic architecture and mediaeval origin of the white rabbit statue found in St.Mary’s Church Beverley – the probable source for Lewis Carroll’s character. The Alice marionette made by Jane Eve is combined with various shadow techniques on three screens, with eight different light sources, including digital projection – all with just one puppeteer backstage and one musician/technician onstage. Mark Pitman directed the work in collaboration with Anna Ingleby, Haviel Perdana, Susanna Samanek and Manju Gregory, with lottery funding from ACE, and further grants from East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Arts in Spring 2007. Following a developmental stage with school performances, the final version began touring schools and theatres in October 2007. See www.indigomoontheatre.com

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MERVYN MILLAR

War Horse will be extending its run this year with new dates to be announced for autumn 2008. Mervyn’s book on the production, The Horse’s Mouth: Staging Morpurgo’s War Horse, is available at the National Theatre bookshop. The rehearsals for the revival will once again have Basil Jones and Adrian Kohler from Handspring in attendance to supervise the puppetry, with Tom Morris and Marianne Elliott as co-directors and Mervyn as Associate. The show has been nominated for 5 Olivier Awards, and Handspring and Rae Smith the designer have won Best Design at both the Evening Standard and the Critic’s Circle Awards ceremonies (see our From the Frontline feature in this edition for more on the making of War Horse). See www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/War%20Horse+23070.tw

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MISHIMOU

The 3 Little Pigs is a gloriously eccentric show that subverts the children’s classic. Told with dramatic application of shadow, light and colour, textured hand-drawn animations, puppetry and warm-props, it’s full of beguiling invention. Funny, sinister and very naughty… and featuring a dangerous and very elaborate rescue operation, nudity, alcohol, death and a tree. Suitable for all audiences 16+. The 3 Little Pigs is next performing in 2008 at: Arts Depot, London (28 February); Prema, Gloucestershire (1 March); Norden Farm, Maidenhead (5 March); The Boo, Rossendale (7 March); The Rose, Edge Hill University (21 April); Square Chapel, Halifax (25 April); Leeds Met Theatre (30 April).
See www.mishimou.co.uk  or email info@mishimou.co.uk  

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NUTMEG THEATRE COMPANY


Nutmeg Puppet Company has produced and toured a new show, Knowlittle, for an adult audience, to elderly people’s homes, village halls and small theatres in East Anglia. The story is based around the life of Arthur Patterson, self-taught Great Yarmouth naturalist, showman and journalist (writer of a nature diary for the Eastern Daily Press for many years under the pen-name of John Knowlittle), who combined a love and understanding of the natural world with showmanship and artistic skills. The project has been funded by: Arts Council England East, Awards for All, Adnams Charity, Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils, Suffolk Coastal, Kings Lynn & Great Yarmouth Borough Councils, Broads and Rivers Leader+ Community Chest, South Norfolk and Mid-Suffolk District Councils; and generously sponsored by local businesses.
See www.nutmegpuppet.co.uk

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OBJECTS DART

Objects Dart have a promising year ahead, building on the successes of 2007. Three new shows were created in 2007: Jabulani and the Hungry Crocodile, The Elves and the Shoemaker and a reworking of the popular Little Red Riding Hood. In addition to these shows company founder Drew Colby continues to perform traditional Punch and Judy, and over the Christmas period revived his nativity play A Special Child. After successes at three festivals in 2007 (Bath, Buxton and Cape Town), three more festivals are lined up for 2008: Beverley, Cape Town and Halifax / Antigonish in Nova Scotia (Canada). New for 2008 is an adaptation of a Russian folk tale. Simply titled Salt it is all about (you guessed it) salt! Working on the premise of the three shows created in 2007, Salt begins with a number of objects from a picnic basket that transform magically into the characters and scenes of the story, including sailing ships, mountains of salt and even the Tsar himself. The story will be suitable for ages 2-7, and there will be specially recorded music and traditional storytelling. Performances begin in mid-March 2008. See www.objectsdart.info

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PICKLED IMAGE

Pickled Image are once again on the road with their award-winning show, Houdini’s Suitcase, which is growing in reputation due to sold-out performances (reviewed ion this edition of Animations Online). As well as UK dates they will be performing in Norway, Portugal, Germany and Spain over the summer. In between shows they have been working with French company Delit de Façade writing and directing a piece for a large-scale outdoor puppet project. This will be premiered in Cognac on 20 March and will also be at Le Abattoir, for Chalon Festival de le Rue in July. Spring tour: Arnham Puppet Festival, Holland (21 Feb); Halliwell Theatre, Camarthen (27 February); Brewhouse Theatre, Taunton (5 March); Bridport Arts Centre (6 March); Wales Millenium Centre (1 & 2 April); Old Town Hall, Hemel Hempstead (11 April); Salisbury Playhouse (18 & 19 April). See www.pickledimage.co.uk

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PUCA PUPPETS

In December last year Púca Puppets and colleagues celebrated the company’s tenth anniversary in Dublin City Council’s Lab with a puppet exhibition and series of informal performances including an excerpt from their latest show Coraline, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s novel. It is hoped Coraline will now tour abroad, and that Púca’s new shadow show, made in collaboration with poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and based on the Selkie and Mer-people folklore, will open in the IMRAM Irish Language Festival in the autumn. 2008 will also bring the company’s move to Inis Meáin, one of the Aran Islands off the coast of Galway, which should prove an inspiring new location. Email pucapuppets@eircom.net

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PUPPET LAB

The Puppet Lab’s newest production of the classic fairytale Beauty and the Beast combines beautifully crafted wooden marionette puppets and blue screen technology, mixing live puppetry and on screen animation, traditional and modern. The company will also be presenting The Gift, a twenty-minute installation/performance taking place in a large box shaped like a big present, at the Storytelling Centre (Edinburgh), 31 March - 5 April. See www.puppet-lab.com or email info@puppet-lab.com

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PUPPET STATE THEATRE COMPANY

Puppet State Theatre Company bring their award-winning adaptation of Jean Giono’s classic story, complete with rain, mist and forest scents, to London’s Unicorn Theatre from 8-27 April. In February the company took The Man Who Planted Trees to the Bermuda International Festival for Performing Arts, and have returned to tour in West Cumbria followed by Devon, Dorset and Somerset, then around Scotland with the Puppet Animation Festival. Many people have seen the show twice – with and then without children. After a recent show a young teenager said he’d seen it six times and plans to come again for the 2008 Fringe. See www.puppetstate.com for all tour dates and reviews.

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PUPPET THEATRE BARGE


During March, April and May the Puppet Theatre Barge (Little Venice, London) will be putting on: Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Tried to Eat Her, by Deborah Jones, presented with marionettes and shadow puppets, original music, lighting and effects, and a new twist to the tale; a show dedicated to Captain Grimey, the dirtiest, most miserable, one-legged sea captain in the world; and The Three Little Pigs, a witty rendition of the popular tale, complimented by specially commissioned music and script. For full dates see www.puppetbarge.com or email puppet@movingstage.co.uk  

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NEWS FROM PUPPETRY ORGANISATIONS

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BRITISH PUPPET AND MODEL THEATRE GUILD EVENTS

The British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild is running two events this sprint to which they welcome non-members, especially members of other puppetry organisations. On 8 March, 12pm at Donnington Church Hall, Albrighton there will be a sale of puppetry books, puppets and related ephemera, and puppetry performances in memory of the late Kath Beresford.  Admission price: Donations. And 7-9pm Friday April 25 at Central School of Speech and Drama (Swiss Cottage, London), Michael Moore, celebrated hand-puppeteer for The Muppet Show and Sesame Street, will be giving a talk/demonstration sponsored by The British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild. Tickets: £10 (£8 to members of puppetry organisations & students). Booking advised. Call Peter Charlton 020 8997 8236 or email peter@peterpuppet.co.uk

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PUPPET PLACE

Puppeteers in the south west are due to benefit from the re-emergence of Puppet Place, a Bristol-based charity formed in 1993 with the aim of supporting the development of puppetry, animated theatre and related artforms throughout the region. In a unique collaboration, four established theatre companies from Bristol have pooled energy and resources to rekindle Puppet Place, adopting its aims and objectives and forming a new dynamic board comprising the artistic directors of Full Beam Visual Theatre, Green Ginger, Pickled Image and Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company, plus the co-opted Katie Keeler (Theatre Bristol’s creative producer for visual & physical theatre) as observer/advisor and the two founding directors, Di Steeds and Katherine Martin. A business plan has been commissioned and a search is underway for a substantial premises to house not only Puppet Place but also provide the much needed production bases for a number of local companies. The proposed resources of Puppet Place could include a reference library, rehearsal and training space and meeting rooms. For more info on Puppet Place, its proposed activities and how to get involved, contact: Rachel McNally, Puppet Place, c/o Full Beam Visual Theatre, 3 Charles Place, Bristol, BS8 4QW, email rachel@fullbeamvisualtheatre.org.uk

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SCOTTISH MASK AND PUPPET CENTRE

SMPC’s spring/summer programme this year presents the usual strong mix of local and international performers. In March Folding Theatre Company show Two Can Toucan, an adaptation of a modern fable by David MacKee (15 March); in April, Clive Andrews’ The Lighthouse Keeper is a clowning adventure story featuring puppetry, dance, circus skills, mime and a little ukulele, following the tribulations of Oscar, a loveable fool who takes his dream job as a lighthouse keeper (26 April); in May Yugen Puppets bring to life their Scottish fairytale The Magic Horse (10 May) and Sylvia Troon presents The Sleeping Giant and the Garden Guzzler, a series of stories based around Scottish landmarks (31 May); June sees a visit from Sokobauno Theatre with their show Hotel Marionette, containing juggling marionettes, a pianist with a twist up his grand piano, and a clown who just can’t keep his head on (7 June). SMPC also runs workshops throughout the year. See www.scottishmaskandpuppetcentre.co.uk

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THE WORLD THROUGH WOODEN EYES

In the Mitchell Library in Glasgow The World Through Wooden Eyes are putting on A Penny Plain or Two Pence Coloured, an exhibition about toy theatre. The well-known phrase by Robert Louis Stevenson introduces us to the world of the miniature theatre with its heroes, heroines, clowns and harlequins, rogues and vagabonds. From pantomimes, melodramas, fairy tales and great works of dramatic art this is the stuff of fantasy and reality. Featuring original drawings, hand coloured prints, tinsel pictures and other rare materials, the exhibition brings its subject to life. See www.theworldthroughwoodeneyes.co.uk/html/events.html

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COURSES AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT EVENTS

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FORKBEARD FANTASY

Forkbeard Fantasy will be running a series of courses between March and July at their creative base in the heart of rural Devon: Creative Sound for Stage, Screen & Gallery (10 March); Film Interaction for Stage, Screen & Gallery (11 March); Art of Animating (12 March); Puppetry & Automata (13 & 14 March); Digital Editing using Final Cut Pro HD (24 - 26 March & 26 - 28 May); and the annual FF Summer Schools (27 June - 4 July & 11 July - 18 July). See www.forkbeardfantasy.co.uk  or email ff@forkbeardfantasy.co.uk

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HANDS UP PUPPETS TOURING LECTURE


Marcus Clarke of Hands Up Puppets has put together a TV Puppetry Lecture which he recently delivered to a packed lecture theatre at Nottingham Trent University, gaining some very positive feedback. The lecture is between one and two hours long and explains TV Puppetry with puppets, anecdotes and a lot of fun — moving from Little Shop of Horrors to SMarteenies and 50 TV Series in between. The lecture is available to tour to UK institutions running Performing Arts, Media, Film and Television and Arts and Design courses. Marcus plans to develop more puppetry lectures over the coming year. See www.handsuppuppets.com/html/TV_Puppetry_Lecture.html

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POSTALGIA PERFORMANCE AND
PUBLIC DISCUSSION


On 18 March, 7.30pm at the Little Angel Theatre, British UNIMA, Rouge28 Theatre, Little Angel and Shunt present a public discussion: 'What does the actor-puppeteer do?' How does puppetry change our perception of acting, dramaturgy and theatrical space? Anyone with an interest is invited to join guest speakers in discussing the encounter of the actor and the puppet in contemporary European theatre. The talk follows a performance of Postalgia, a work-in-progress from Rouge28 Theatre. Please book ahead as space is limited. 5 -8 March Postalgia at the Shunt Vaults (with informal post-show talk 7 March) www.shunt.co.uk & 18 March Postalgia followed by discussion ‘What does the actor-puppeteer do?’ at the Little Angel Theatre. Box Office 020 72261787 www.littleangeltheatre.com

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PUPPETCRAFT

John Roberts, director of PuppetCraft, has been running courses for 27 years. His next batch are in Devon in July/August. There are two separate weeks on carving wooden puppets: 27 July - 1 August & 3 to 8 August 2008 (book early!). And a finishing puppets and performing week running 10 -15 August 2008, offering a chance to refine your almost-finished puppet and take it through to performing. See www.puppetcraft.co.uk 

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MARIONETTE CARVING – THE TRICKS OF THE TRADE

Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre: Monday 2nd - Wednesday 4th June 2008
A short ‘hands-on’ course for adults interested in Victorian marionettes, trick or specialised puppets, and woodcarving for string figures with guidelines for jointing and stringing.
Accompanied by a talk/demonstration/video on the Barnard Marionettes. Tutor: Ken Barnard, Vice-President of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild. All materials and tools provided.
Course Fee: £75.00 +VAT See www.scottishmaskandpuppetcentre.co.uk 

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PUBLICATIONS, FILM AND OTHER MEDIA

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PUPPET NOTEBOOK

The latest issue of Puppet Notebook includes an account of a puppet show during the Warsaw Uprising 1944, news from Iran, a feature on puppets in pantomime, and an overview of current research into puppetry, as well as a diary of upcoming events and international festivals. The current issue (no. 10) and back issues are available by emailing puppetnotebook@unima.org.uk or from the online booksellers www.offstagebooks.com and www.maskandpuppetbooks.co.uk  An index of back issues and sample articles as well as information about subscribing can be found on the British UNIMA website: www.unima.org.uk

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DOCUMENTARY ON IGOR FOKIN AVAILABLE ON DVD

The Story of Fenist introduces viewers to Fokin and the magical marionettes that played a central role in his life. Rich performance footage and insightful interviews with his wife, children, extended family and friends are used to retrace Fokin’s life from his time as a Russian university theatre student and at his St. Petersburg studio to his life in New England. The film includes a parallel story to Fokin’s artistic struggles based on the Russian fairy-tale, Fenist the Bright Falcon — about an enchanted bird that, overcoming great odds, reaches its star. Two children provide the delightful narration. Merging two stories in one, the documentary brings viewers into a world of beautiful images and metaphors, music and theatre. Directed by Yelena Demikovsky. All proceeds from the award-winning documentary are being donated to benefit Fokin’s widow and three children.
For more on the Fokin family, go to www.igorfokinfamily.com 
For more information or to purchase The Story of Fenist, visit www.redpalettepictures.com

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