Amid all the build-up of the past few months and the sporting activity to come, there have been some incredible animated offerings – from puppets out and about in the community to epic street performance on a grand scale. Take a look at our Olympian puppetry highlights including some of what’s already happened and what’s still to come.
Epic and impressive
Graeae continue to make their mark within the Cultural Olympiad. The movers and shakers of the disabled-led theatre world took on the challenge of combining their expertise with Catalan based company La Fura dels Baus to create Prometheus Awakes. Combining an epic Greek myth with an equally epic puppet seems an appropriate way to celebrate the year that London hosts the Paralympic Games. Giant puppets, outdoor spectacle, airbourne performers… yes please! Prometheus awakes again on the 2 August at the Stockton International Riverside Festival in Stockton-on-Tees.
Big man, walking
Scotland’s gentle giant re-emerges to celebrate with the Glaswegians – Big Man Walking will be at the Merchant City Festival this weekend (28 to 29 July) helping to construct a larger-than-life cardboard tower. Puppet Lab’s eight metre tall puppet was presented by Animation Scotland back in 2009, when he travelled the Highlands, journeyed coast to coast and had a knees-up with thousands of people.
Swiss myth marathon
A fusion of castle wars, goats, mountains and yodeling – just some of what’s promised when Swiss myths and legends are retold by the inspirational artist-led education charity House of Fairy Tales during a puppetry marathon. The brainchild of YBA artists Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis, the HOF Headquarters is a place where anything is possible. Young people will create a puppetry play in a day using shadow puppets, hand puppets and object manipulation at the House of Switzerland, London Bridge on the 29 July and 12 August. There are golden tickets on offer for lucky children – find out more.
Home sweet home
Cuppa tea? Rum punch? Bit of cake? How do you welcome guests into your own home? Chaz the puppet (conceived by Ali Pretty) is travelling around east London discovering the range and rituals of hospitality. A World in Hackney explores how guests are welcomed in different Hackney communities. Young people from Immediate Theatre operate the puppet, providing a valuable insight into the diversity of their community. Tony Gouveia, Immediate’s Associate Director says “people are so welcoming, everyone seems very happy to welcome a puppet within their own community.”
Visitors from outer space
Imagination Our Nation, pioneered by Kinetika, wants to start a national conversation about our future and is using large-scale ‘alien’ puppets visiting Earth to do it. It’s a community-based project focusing on citizenship, collaboration and pure spectacle. Artistic director, Ali Pretty, explained the project is designed to “ignite people’s imaginations, to create a sense of what could be, to explore and celebrate”.
Handspring Puppet Company, makers of internationally acclaimed theatre production ‘War Horse’ turned their attention to Ted Hughes’ poems during the Greenwich International Festival. ‘Crow’ offered a distinct departure from Handspring’s renowned work. It was a performance inspired by explorations of the darker side of life (and death) embodied by winged, beaked and clawed creatures. The company collaborated with Ben Duke to create a dance theatre performance that gave form to the intricate and fragmented writings of Britain’s former poet laureate. Read our review.
While the details are still to be confirmed, we’ve heard news on the grapevine that British puppetry gurus Blind Summit have been asked to create a very special something to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics. Everyone involved has been sworn to secrecy. Our lips are sealed…
Photographs by Tia Lomas and Andreu Adrover