Celebrating 40 | Q & A with Corina Bona
The Puppet Centre is 40 years old this year. To celebrate we're catching up with some of the people who have won Puppet Centre residencies to find out how their eclectic careers have developed. Throughout 2014 we will publish Q&As with some of the UK's finest puppeteers. Here Corina Bona talks about experimentation, dance and her brand new show, which premieres later this month in Bristol.
Describe the how, when and what of your Puppet Centre residency.
I was awarded the residency in 2012 during a period of exploration into puppetry and dance. I was collaborating with Twisted Theatre who are a physical theatre and dance company based in Bristol. We wanted to make a new piece of devised theatre with live music that mixed the bodies of dancers into the animating of the puppets.
What are your favourite memories from that period?
My favorite period was the experimentation and discovery of what was possible. We were combining dancers and their bodies into the puppets themselves. It was great to explore how the music influenced the movement, emotion and narrative. It also made us push our thinking as to how the puppet could be moved beyond using our hands.
How about the challenges?
We found developing the story challenging. We wanted to communicate everything without using text or words and this left too many things up to interpretation. At times we were being too literal and could have tried more abstract forms to play with perception. It was also challenging to see where we could go beyond our exploration and at the time too many projects pulled us in different directions.
How has the residency helped to shape and develop your career since then?
The residency has certainly given me more clout as an artist and allowed me the opportunity to consider how I fund my work and evolve my practice further. It has been the beginning of a process of discovery into new collaboration and a realisation that I want to gain other performance skills. These are skills I could then introduce to expand my practice in puppetry. Since then I have investigated clowning and mask work.
What's your birthday wish for the Puppet Centre?
That they continue to promote and support puppetry and connect it with as many other art forms as possible. I find it very funny that people still think of it as a niche art form that is having a resurgence. Puppetry is one of the oldest forms of storytelling. Audiences can’t get enough of it and it deserves to be recognised as something that heightens the visual landscape of theatre.
If you ruled the arts world, what would you change? (just one thing!)
The perception that art is an innate talent. I think art needs to be nurtured in all and it needs to stay playful and interactive and not over-labelled.
What's your guilty pleasure when it comes to culture?
I adore musical theatre and love nothing more than a good classic show tune that captures the emotion of a story, this includes musical films too, my favorites are The Little Mermaid, Sweet Charity, Bugsy Malone, Me and My Girl, Company, South Park the Movie etc.
What couldn't you live without as a puppeteer?
Newspaper and masking tape, all my puppets start out as newspaper maquettes and later evolve into designed fabricated pieces.
Your life in puppetry in five words.
Magical, inclusive, challenging, surprising, creative
And, finally, here’s your chance to plug whatever you’re working on at the moment.
This February I received my first Arts Council Grant to develop a new family show taking a detective mystery angle on the classic tale of Thumbelina. Collaborating with a delightful team of creatives we created 'Detective O and the Cold Case Caper', which premiers this month in Bristol.
As a theatre goer my favorite productions are the kind where I feel part of the show, engaged in elements that evolve the outcome of the story. Audiences bring so much energy and spontaneity into the room. I wanted to see how far that relationship could go! So the crowd become my brand new batch of rookie detectives and, in order to earn our badges, we have to crack the case!
Corina Bona won her Puppet Centre residency in 2012.