Packing a punch – an interview with Touched Theatre
“I should let you know who that is skulking around behind me. He's always following me around, it's a problem a lot of puppets have I gather.” Miranda the marionette from Touched Theatre has something to say.
Since the end of 2011, The Nightingale Theatre in Brighton has played host to 'Punched', a variety night that showcases puppetry from across Brighton and Hove. Following the success of these evenings, 'Best of Punched' at The Old Market will bring together all the best acts from their previous shows. EJ caught up with Miranda, their dogmatic, dramatic, drag marionette MC.
How is the programme for 'Punched' curated?
Oh “curated”, now there’s a nice word. Just between you and me EJ, there's this casting couch, it's right over there in the corner. The puppets come in here, they make themselves comfortable, I try to make them a little bit more comfortable, and if they make me comfortable as well, then basically they're in, okay?
That's my producer over there, she says I gotta tell you the truth. The truth is I do not bother myself with the minutia of bureaucracy of booking the acts. I am the star. I turn up, I look beautiful, I do my thing, the acts do theirs, and we're all cool. For the ‘Best of Punched’ though, it’s all been slightly different. Basically we've asked back our favourite acts from the last few nights, and we've thrown in a few little extra surprises for you.
There's gonna be some fabulous new stuff on stage, but then also all these other things going on around. We've got movies in the basement, walk around stuff, dead animals do a dance in the bar, pictures on the walls and toy theatre. It's going to be fabulous, I mean really, I can't wait.
Are there any puppetry trends emerging at the moment that you're privy to?
Trend spotting in 'Punched' is a little difficult because it's kind of predicated under variety. Not just like in the literal sense of lots of different stuff going on, but also in the traditional sense of theatre that you enjoy and want to go and see. Like the old variety days; they were good days.
But really, it’s so varied. Just in the last one we had everything from old school toy theatre with the flat figures that jiggle about, to this table that gave birth to some cabbages. There's flamenco shadow theatre and there's a puppet that ate itself. There was a piece that was basically about the semiotics of Dawson's Creek. I mean, we’ve got everything.
If you can pull a trend out of that baby, then you're a better lady than I am. I don't know! I would like to see a trend for better hair and make-up around puppets. I like to think that I am leading the charge in that trend but, you know, it's too early to tell, we'll see.
Is there a burgeoning puppetry scene in Brighton?
Well of course there is baby, I'm burgeoning it. I like to think that 'Punched' has had a little bit to do with the spread and the power of the puppetry scene down here. Before this puppetry has been in Brighton for a long time.
Our great great grandfather, the daddy of us all, Mr Punch himself, used to come down here to the seaside. He used to have these little naughty weekends with the Prince Regent back in the day. I like to think sometimes you can see a little family resemblance, with us Brightonians. If you look at my profile, it’s kinda clearer. I mean, not that I'm originally from Brighton, but hey, I've got Brighton in my soul, and in my polystyrene heart.
Which theatre companies and venues should we be keeping an eye on?
Man, that’s like a dry question. I gotta tell you, no bullshit, they are all hot. So that's okay. Venue-wise, um, I would say the Nightingale. They've supported us all the way, they support a lot of brave new work, and they’ve been really good to us with our little experiments. They're hot.
The Old Market, where we've got our new show. It's big, baby. We like it there, they are fabulous, and they've got loads of great puppetry shows there. In the fringe, there's The Warren. And there's the other Touched Theatre show that the producer says I gotta tell you about. I mean, I don't know, I'm not in it, I don't reckon it can be that great. But it's kinda different, it's called ‘Blue’ and it's also on at the Nightingale.
A variety night curated by Touched Theatre