Suspense London Festival of Puppetry 2013
From the 25 October until the 3 November, inanimate objects will rise, take a breath and descend upon London to spread their subversive culture. The Suspense London Puppetry Festival will once again take place across several venues, showcasing international and national work specifically for adult audiences.
The biennial festival hosted by the Little Angel Theatre is now in its third year and has become an important event, not only for the range of puppetry performances but also as a hub for collectively sharing ideas, skills and debates related to puppetry for adults. Festival director Peter Glanville describes it as an “opportunity for the puppetry world and people who are interested in the art form to engage with it on a deeper level. It’s not just an amalgam of shows to see.”
This year’s festival also marks the last for Peter Glanville as artistic director of the Little Angel Theatre. Since his tenure began, he has worked hard to programme and host more work for adults. He explains that “when I joined eight years ago one of the tenets for my vision for the theatre was to develop the profile of puppetry as an art form that was potentially for everyone.”
So at this year’s festival we will see a wealth of shows for grown ups. These include performances that have been doing very well on tour like Theatre Temoin’s ‘The Fantasist’; many London and world premieres; some influential international companies; and the Little Angel’s first in-house show for adults for quite some time, ‘Macbeth’.
The play will be Glanville’s last for the Little Angel and he has approached it differently to his recent collaborations with the RSC on ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘The Tempest’. “What I want to do with ‘Macbeth’ is to create a puppet theatre piece. The whole world is set in a strange hybrid world of human / bird creations and is a lot more abstract,” he says.
There are twelve venues hosting shows and events during Suspense, which is testimony to the festival’s growing reach. In scheduling work, the organisers have tried to make sure you can see at least two shows a night. There are too many to preview each one so I’ll focus on the international acts, as festivals like Suspense offer a special opportunity to see work from abroad.
Duda Paiva will be bringing ‘Bastard!’ to London. Paiva has made quite a name for himself in Europe over the past few years presenting work that combines puppetry and dance. Compagnie Philippe Genty’s ‘Dustpan Odyssey’ will explore the use of objects and materials on a smaller scale than is usually associated with their work. And Spanish duo El Retrete de Dorian Gray present ‘Rua Aire’, a fascinating sounding show where balloons are the main medium for animation.
There are also workshops for beginners and experienced puppeteers, talks and symposiums. Not to mention the opportunity to mingle with like-minded people. Peter Glanville also points out that Suspense is “an opportunity to see not only some of the best national and international work that’s happening in terms of puppetry but also to see some of the most exciting theatre that’s being created at the moment.”
Glanville may be moving on but he’s not leaving puppetry behind. “Although I’m moving to Polka, puppetry is still something that’s going to be a huge influence on the work I continue to create. I’ve learnt so much during the time I’ve been at the Little Angel”.
Suspense London Puppetry Festival
25 October - 3 November 2013