Thursday, 29 December 2016

January's Puppet of the Month - Goldstein-becomes-Moses

Moses (photo by Nigel Bewley)

Thanks for joining us Mr Goldstein. Or is it Moses? Which puppet are you exactly?

These days I’m widely recognised as “Moses” from The Table, but I first came to life as “Emmanuel Goldstein”, leader of the underground resistance to the Nazi’s. I was made for Blind Summit’s adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 but I was too cute, apparently.

And that was the end of Goldstein?
Sadly, yes. But just 6 months after 1984 I was pulled back out for The Other Seder - a commission by the Jewish Community Centre for London and Knish Collective playing with the idea of Moses returning to the Passover table (they thought I looked a bit like the Prophet). Lo and behold: I became "Moses".

So what's with the other girl? 
In the very early days of The Table we had me, my 3 puppeteers, and another character. The show focused on the relationship between Moses and the girl, but was dropped around 2012 as we reworked the material. But - we’re bringing her back for the Drak project. 

The Drak project?
I’m about to travel with Mark to the Theatre Drak rehearsal room in Czech Republic for 3 weeks. We're doing R&D on that early idea of Moses and the 4th character. Plus, I went from German revolutionary to Czech puppet in that Goldstein-to-Moses transformation, so I feel like I'm going back to my roots. 

You were a Czech puppet?!

The concept for The Table 1.0 was a Czech group coming to the UK to perform Tabel and divulge the secrets of the famed Czech puppetry. But that got scrapped in rehearsal and we went back to earlier ideas in The Other Seder. So it feels good to pick that up again with our friends in the Czech Republic. 

The Other Seder, 2010

Czech Puppetry: the basics

Mark is off to Theatre Drak - renowned state theatre for puppetry in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic - for 3 weeks of R&D this month. As they rework some early 'Moses' ideas for for a show this autumn, Assistant Producer Alex takes a look at some Czech-puppetry facts you may not have heard of... 

Divadlo Drak ('Dragon Theatre') 
A Quick History

  • In its beginnings (late 1600s) puppets in Czech theatre were used as cheap alternatives to actors, made in large, real-life proportions
  • Made for adult audiences, puppet shows (1700's) were performed in pubs and village town squares
  • With state-run city theatres performing exclusively in German (the official language) it was the provincial  puppetry shows, performed in Czech, that came to represent the indigenous nation 
  • The puppeteer became a cultural hero in the Czech nationalist movement (1800's), with funding flooding into community ‘amateur’ theatre that was created by professionals. The audience shifted from adults to children
  • 1928: UNIMA founded in Prague, where amateur puppetry theatre Rise Loutek still operates
  • 1920's: "Spejbl and Hurvinek" were comic puppet characters critical of the Nazi regime, until their puppeteers were sent to a concentration camp 
  • 2016: Czech puppetry made it onto the UNESCO cultural heritage list 


Delve into Czech mythos and witness the mastery of  Bitva s Lučany (Battle with the Luczans) by Jirí Trnka (1953)

Some Links

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Spilling the beans on Jack & The Beanstalk - the story behind Citizen Puppet

Citizen Puppet is currently undergoing some major reconstruction in the rehearsal room. Those who have already seen it will know that it's built around Jack and the Beanstalk, refashioning the classic story as a puppet docu-drama about the 2008 economic crash.

The day Jack chops down the beanstalk is the fairy tale parallel of the Lehman Brother's collapse - the fall of the financial giants that devastated the western world and continues to reverberate to this day. 

As we enter the panto-season proper, we thought it a fine time to take a look at other interpretations of this classic... 

Need a story recap? 
Jack and his mother are very poor. Forced to flog their only cow when her milk runs dry, Jack meets a stranger en route to market and sells the animal for magic beans. Mum is angry, beats Jack, and throws the beans out the window. Beans grow into a gigantic beanstalk, leading to a bloodthirsty giant’s castle in the sky – complete with gold coins,  a goose that lays golden eggs,  and a singing harp. Jack swags the riches and kills the giant by chopping down the beanstalk with him still on it, in hot pursuit.

So where does it come from?
'The Boy Who Stole Ogre's Treasure' are a collection of stories dating back 5000 years (say Durham academics), and historically the giant may have its roots in the Gogmagog character of Welsh and English folklore. This giant was thrown from a cliff during a wrestling match in the lands we now know as Cornwall. 

What do others make of the beanstalk? 
The tree with incredible properties is a feature of ancient stories from across the world: 
  • The Banyan Tree, the Hindu’s sacred tree, symbolises longevity, fertility, nourishment and the fulfilment of wishes and material gains
  • Buddha finds enlightenment – a spiritual awakening - after meditating for 7 days under the sacred fig (Bodhi) tree with its heart-shaped leaves 
  • Serbian families burn the badnjak (Yule log) on Christmas eve alongside prayers to God for happiness, luck and riches
  • The tree in the Garden of Eden offering its fruit that bestows deeper knowledge (of good and evil)

What research went into Citizen Puppet rehearsals?
The creative team read versions of Jack & The Beanstalk from all over the world and analysis by experts like Marina Warner. 

And what's next for Citizen Puppet?
The script is currently being re-developed and some of the puppets re-designed, in particular the mechanisms used for the mouth movement. Hopefully we'll have some more news for you next year!

December's Puppet of the Month - Fish from Arhat: Taming the Dragon

 So Fish – tell us a bit about yourself
I’m actually Texan.

Oh really? 
Yes. I was part of the Butchers, Dragons, Gods and Skeletons exhibition at the Kimbell Art Gallery – a collection of film installations by American artist Philip Haas (one of the top ten museum shows of 2009, said TIME magazine)

What was your bit about?
We were part of an 8 minute film that responded to an ancient Chinese scroll the Kimbell has in its collection (Yuan Dynasty). Here we are,  06:19 into this video, a mini documentary about the exhibition.

What’s your favourite performance moment? 
Well, it was a lot of improvised puppet special effects and puppeteers tugging us all with fishing wire which was a bit traumatic for me, if I’m honest. 

What have you been up to this month? 
Mark took me on a trip to Wimbeldon College of Art to meet some design students.

Have you got a special Christmas message for our readers?
Y’all go and see an exhibition this Christmas folks. Y’might learn somethin..

Photos from the making of Arhat: Taming the Dragon

A Celebration of 2016

Join us as we look back on our highlights from 2016 - we couldn't have done it without our funders, donors, collaborators, artists and audiences. Thank you all!

Jan - Return to the London International Mime Festival leading a puppetry masterclass

Feb - Culmination of 6 months' puppet development for Little Match Girl in a presentation at The Place, London

Mar - Blind Summit's Canadian premiere with The Table in Montreal

April - Debut at Shakespeare’s Globe, directing puppetry for Emma Rice’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream

May - Revival of puppetry in Madam Butterfly at ENO for 7th time!

June - Premiere of Little Match Girl at Spoleto Festival USA

July - Return to Latitude Festival with Improbable and Animo

Aug - Edinburgh Fringe Festival run of Meet Fred, our collaboration with Hijinx, with 5* reviews

Sept - Broadcast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream live on BBC iplayer

Oct - Script writing intensive with the Citizen Puppet team

Nov - Associate Artists Humanish return with their show Holy Presents

Dec - Welcoming the team from the legendary Theatre Drak (Czech Republic) to Blind Summit HQ to plan our 2017 collaboration starting in January 2017...

Trailer from Meet Fred with Hijinx Theatre

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Taking a closer look at ... the Humanette

Our Associate company, Humanish, have been reworking their Humanette Christmas show - Holy Presents - for a new tour. We thought we'd take the opportunity to ask God (one of the lead characters) a little bit more about the show and this puppet form ...

'Humanette Puppet' doesn't exist in Wikipedia. Are you for real?

A lesser known species, we'll admit, but one that features recurrently in comedy and cabaret. The Humanette (sometimes called a Human Marionette) is a head-body-hybrid of humans and puppets. 

Aha. So - how do you work?

Blind Summit associates Humanish rehearsing for Holy Presents
This is a table top puppet and the puppeteer body is disguised by dressing in black and performing against a black background, controlling the puppet's arms with dark rods and its feet with discreet grips. 

The big exception is the puppeteer's head - proudly revealed in all its expressive glory - with the puppet body (roughly the size of a 9 month old baby) hanging from the neck. Like me, here, warming up for my annual family Shakespeare recital.

What notable Humanettes have gone before you?

Ernest Elliot - early Humanette performerAs the God Humanette I'm obviously the Original and the Creator, but there have been a few notable followers. 

One was Ernest Elliot (1894 - 1974), one of the first entertainers to appear on television in the early days of the BBC. He performed his Humanette material in front of Princess Margaret, don't you know? 

Then there was the incorrigible Dario Fo used us regularly as part of his satirical armour.  

And here's an example of Humanetting with a flamenco edge, courtesy of Philippe Genty - 

What about Blind Summit? Have they ever used Humanettes before?

El Gato Con Botas at the New Victory Theatre in New York
I'm glad you asked. They've actually used Humanettes on a couple of occasions.

The first was Kyle Pfortmiller as the King in our Gotham Chamber Opera, El Gato Con Botas at the New Victory Theatre in New York. Another was Kommilitonen at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and the Royal Academy of Music in London. 

So there you go. Blind Summit bringing the Humanette form back into contemporary puppet use for our friends across the pond.

So God - where can we see your rendition of the Bard in Holy Presents

We will be taking our show to the lucky souls of the Theatre Royal Margate, the Lincoln Drill Hall, the Firestation in Windsor and the fine people of Camden and their people's theatre.

Monday, 31 October 2016

November's Puppet of the Month - the Golden Monkey from 'His Dark Materials'

Hey Monkey, thanks for coming in. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? 

That's Golden Monkey to you, if you please. I'm the dæmon of Lyra's mother, Marisa Coulter - a lady who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to stub a few toes along the way. So as the physical manifestation of her soul, I play to win. And I don't take any crap, pal. 

So how was it performing at the National Theatre back in 2004?

Everyone gets that wrong. I wasn't at the National. I was made for a production at Birmingham Rep and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Right. So - how are you made and who operated you? 

Me and Mark
I'm made from Plastazote, which is a lightweight foam. Nick Barnes designed me and Ben Thompson operated me in the show. He also worked the Stupid Bear - but I, being exceptionally clever, was obviously his favourite. 

What are you up to these days?

I hang tight in Birmingham Rep's storage unit, but I've had a few outings with student productions. The York Theatre Royal youth theatre mounted a Dark Materials production, as did the University of Bristol 

What did you get up to on Halloween?

I attempted to break out and play a few pranks on the people of Birmingham, but there was no one to help me do it. You can't make mischief if you're on your own as a puppet. But don't worry, I'm collecting recruits. Next year we're going to wreak havoc ... 

Puppeteer Profile: Laura Caldow ...

Laura has been a regular performer with Blind Summit since 2008 in productions including Madam Butterfly, Citizen Puppet, Le Rossignol and even took on one of our toughest roles - the feet of Moses in The Table. We caught up with her during rehearsals for the world's first immersive ballet with Will Tuckett...

Laura & Frippery
How did you start working with Blind Summit? 
I first worked with Blind Summit on Faeries at the Royal Opera House in 2008. I was cast as a dancer but ended up doing 2 of the puppet characters - Mrs Sands and Frippery. I loved it and found it very hard to put Frip back in his box at the end of the tour.

What's your most vivid puppet memory? 
There are so many! Highlights include Moses sitting on my head in a show in Florida, proposing to a lady in Switzerland, & romping with one of the actors at Second City in Chicago. Sorrow's leg falling off at the end of a Madam Butterfly show also springs to mind!

We hear you've recently been dancing in churches with a world class cellist. How was that? 
It was a project called Choreographing Bach with cellist Orlando Jopling and Director Fiona Clift, another Blind Summit associate. We wanted to make something where the cellist and dancer really interacted, and so we worked together throughout the devising period, which is really rare. We performed it in London & Colchester. I loved duetting with Orlando who is amazing, and playing with the audience who weren't accustomed to experiencing classical music in that way. We're hoping to tour the piece next year.

If you want any more information on Laura's work, check out:

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Application for the Artistic Director of The Globe

Dear Globe,

I understand that there will be an opening for Artistic Director at your theatre in 2018 and I am writing to ask if you would consider appointing a puppet?

Puppets are really trendy these days and in that spirit I am putting myself forward for consideration.

Do not be shocked by my appearance, I come with a range of different hands and heads that can easily be changed. As you can see I can be made in the likeness of William Shakespeare. But I could also be the Earl of Oxford. Or Burbage. Or whatever. I could be made into a woman, or a person of colour. Or I can be made to have two faces. 

As an actual puppet I have never knowingly had an opinion about anything. I will do whatever you make me do, and say whatever you make me say. These are not even my own words so if this application does not address your needs, simply rewrite it according to what you want.

On the subject of original practise, who knows what Mark Rylance would really want, but I am more than happy to wear a doublet and hose 24/7 around the office if that helps.

I come with puppeteers or you can learn to puppet me yourself.

A word of warning though. People don’t hold puppeteers in very high regard and a lot of people find puppetry a bit creepy. Some people positively recoil. But I am sure you can handle a bit of controversy.

I hope to hear from you soon and look forward to having your hands up my arse.


A. Puppet

Monday, 3 October 2016

October's Puppet of the Month - Mrs Sands from Faeries

Hello Mrs Sands, can you tell us who you are?

I was in the Royal Opera House's 2008 production, Faeries, dear! Directed by Will Tuckett, the story is set in wartime London where Johnny and his sister, Beattie, orphaned in the Blitz, are to be evacuated to different farms in the country. Johnny, however, runs away and spends the night in Kensington Gardens where he meets faeries (Blind Summit puppetry of course) and has wonderful adventures.

I was in charge of the evacuee programme so I wasn't entirely pleased...

Who designed you and how many people operated you?
I was designed by the hugely talented Nick Barnes and three people operated me including Laura Caldow (pictured above) who had worked with the Director, Will, previously. Faeries was her first time on a puppet and she has since worked with Blind Summit on many productions including The Table and Madam Butterfly. I believe she also worked with Will earlier this year on the Royal Opera House's production, Elizabeth.

Have you now retired from running the evacuee programme?

Oh yes, what a silly question. I'm at the Royal Opera House waiting to see if they'll need me again but for now I'm enjoying peace time and life in storage! Why don't you watch the trailer below to get a better idea of the production... 

Friday, 30 September 2016

Puppeteer Profile: Tom Espiner...

Tom is a Blind Summit Associate who has worked with the company since 2008. He has operated Sorrow in Madam Butterfly in four revivals and worked with us most recently on the development of The Little Match Girl which premiered at Spoleto Festival in June 2016. Tom is Co-Artistic Director of Sound&Fury, a collaborative theatre company that specialises in exploring sound and aural sense in theatre.

How did you start working with Blind Summit?

I was familiar with Blind Summit as early as 2000 but it wasn't until the Edinburgh Festival in 2005 when I was up with my company Sound&Fury that I met them.

I noticed all these interesting chalk drawings of astronauts on the streets and so I followed their trail which eventually led me to the artist - Mark Down. The drawings were promoting the Blind Summit show The Spaceman. I was then invited to take part in a workshop with Blind Summit and a dance group specialising in improvisation in Eastleigh. I had done very little puppetry but I really enjoyed it.

Shortly after that they needed some new people to take over the puppet of the little boy, Sorrow, in the ENO production of Madam Butterfly in 2008 directed by Anthony Minghella and Carolyn Choa. It was hard work but very rewarding!

What's your most memorable experience working with Blind Summit?

I have to say it was pretty unforgettable being part of the enormous staging of the 2012 London Olympics Opening ceremony - kitted out like ninjas we stormed the stage and climbed into the NHS beds housing these huge puppet villains (I was puppet captain for Captain Hook!). Rehearsals always seemed to be thwarted by the weather or technical difficulties but I think it was only on the actual event itself that everything went smoothly including Voldemort's wand which had never sparked off until that evening. As one off, ephemeral theatrical performances go it was a pretty special one to be part of!

What are you working on with your company Sound&Fury?

We are currently in the process of remounting our short piece Charlie Ward which was first staged at the Cinema Museum in Kennington in August 2014 (an amazing building - a real London gem and for some time was where the young Charlie Chaplin lived with his mother). 

Taking its inspiration from the fact that bed-bound, wounded soldiers in the First World War were shown Charlie Chaplin films on the hospital ceiling we have created a piece in which audience members lie on beds and see a Charlie Chaplin film through the eyes of a soldier - using our familiar armoury of moments of total darkness and surround sound, the audience are taken on a strange hypnotic reverie and witness Chaplin as he's never been seen before. 

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

September's Puppet of the Month - Bud from Low Life

Bud, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Sure, I'm an action hero plumber that featured in the 2005 production, Low Life. The show started at the BAC and went on to tour to Edinburgh, Colombia, Sri Lanka and China. The show explored the poems and short stories of Charles Bukowski - in the end I tragically drowned in gin underneath a bar...

What's so interesting about you?

Well, I'm the smallest puppet Blind Summit have made measuring at just over 35cm. The advantage is that it means I am ideal to go out with the team on the many workshops they deliver as a display puppet. The most exciting workshop I've been a part of was in Kuwait. It's hot there.

What are you up to now?

I'm still living in my little red tool box that you can see in the clip below. Largely I watch the comings and goings in the Blind Summit workshop (the machinery is very loud) but you never know... I may have another outing yet. Blind Summit like to revisit past shows!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Meet Fred in Edinburgh

Meet Fred, our collaboration with Hijinx Theatre, has just closed at Summerhall at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016. Director, Ben Pettitt-Wade, takes us through the journey of the show.

How did Meet Fred come about?  
We were inspired by a week long residency led by Blind Summit in 2014. After this we continued to explore puppetry with our Hijinx Academy students, all of whom are performers with a learning disability. We then had two stages of research & development with various artists involved including Blind Summit Artists Tom Espiner & Giulia Innocenti. It was during this stage that the character of Fred began to emerge as a puppet that wants to live in the everyday.

Why was puppetry such a good artform for you?
The relationship between the puppet and his puppeteers is a really interesting metaphor for issues that are pertinent within the learning disabled community,of support, dependence, interdependence and and ultimately independence.

Can you tell us yours and the company's highlight of Edinburgh this year? 

Many, many highlights, but one of the best was a guy coming in to see the show having never seen a puppetry show before and absolutely howling with delight throughout. 

What's next for Meet Fred?
Next we go to Bristol for a one off on 15th September at Circomedia, then two nights at a festival in Mainz, Germany on the 30th September, and 1st October. We are then touring from January to May next year, around the UK and some international dates too!

"Slick, smart puppetry for adults with a political edge" 
The Stage ****

"You'll believe a puppet can cry"
The List ****

"If you only see one show at the EdFringe this year, make sure it's Meet FredFringe Review

Monday, 1 August 2016

Antonia Weir - my time in Blind Summit's workshop

Arts student, Antonia Weir, joined us for a week's work experience as part of our Talent Development programme. She talks about sculpting her first ever puppet head (Samuel Beckett no less) and the importance of Blind Summit's research and development process...

Arriving on Grenville Road, somewhere between Finsbury Park and Archway, I was feeling a little lost. That is, until I looked up to see a window piled high with small yellow hands and the face of a gnarled puppet dangling from the ceiling. This introduction set the tone for an inspiring week of research and development at Blind Summit HQ.

Their workshop is a hub of creation. Puppet bodies and heads lie on the tables in a state of half completion until they are picked up and brought to life by Mark and Fiona, looking to find the right character and voice. They'll then pick up the sanding paper and start adjusting all over again.

From my position at the workshop table - initially making Samuel Beckett out of Styrofoam - I watched as characters and stories were sculpted from the puppets. I already knew that the process of devising could not afford to be lazy and Blind Summit confirmed this. Mark and Fiona interrogated the importance of the relationship between puppet and puppeteer and I was struck by the complexity of their devising process: not only does a puppeteer and maker have to concoct a story and character, they also have to find the puppet's job and answer the question, 'what can this puppet do that a human can't?'.

It was wonderful to be a part of this exploration and begin to discover the potential of puppetry and look at how it fits into such a competitive industry. At Blind Summit it is immediately clear that puppetry is a field that is always developing through innovation and research. The workshop is an incredibly exciting place to be and a busy week!

Thursday, 28 July 2016

August's Puppet of the Month - Tina Henderson

Hi Tina. How are you feeling post Brexit? 

Ach, what's done is done. I've moved on and I've had a pampering from Fiona Clift, who I believe featured in the last newsletter. She's been workin' on me and some of the other puppets from the show, Citizen Puppet. I'm being prodded and poked but I dinnae mind as long as ma hair is fixed.

It may be rude to ask Tina, but what are you made from?

That is rude, darlin'! But I'll tell ya anyway. Well I was originally made by Nick Barnes who hand-sculpted Styrofoam for my head. I've got a cloth body with an internal skeleton made of doweling.

Any plans to retire?
Ach no! Get away with ya! Blind Summit have asked me to be on stand by for a tour of Citizen Puppet in the spring/summer. That's why they've been working on me and given me a new armchair which you can see on the right. I've also popped up on their Facebook a wee bit - my thoughts on Brexit (watch it below), not that I'm still dwelling on it.


Thursday, 7 July 2016

July's Puppet of the Month - Cio Cio San

Are you working at the minute Cio Cio San?

My last performance of Madam Butterfly ends tonight (7 July) at the ENO sadly! While it's not the most happy part I've played it's wonderful to bring this beautiful opera back to life. For now I shall be sleeping and dreaming until the next run...

How many people operate you?

Two people operate me: a puppeteer and a dancer. My current puppeteer in the 2016 ENO run is a trained classical dancer but this is not always the case. I am small and light so I am easy to move with. You can see a clip of Blind Summit Artistic Director, Mark Down, and myself in rehearsals here:

How were you made?

I was made by Nick Barnes and I took 5 weeks to be made from beginning to end. My body is partly soft foam rubber covered with stockinet and also partly Styrofoam covered with Jesmonite and fibre glass. 

My head and hands were originally sculpted in clay and my head is made from hollow fibre glass and polyester resin.

My hair? From the ENO wig department. 

In the workshop with Citizen Puppet heads...

We're back in the workshop again, returning to the puppets from Citizen Puppet. Blind Summit Associate Fiona Clift tells us more...

Why was the decision made to work on the Citizen Puppet puppets again?

Spending a month performing with the puppets last year in Edinburgh, we really came across some structural things we wanted to change! The focus at the minute is on their heads and their moving mouths which are controlled from the back of the head. The mechanisms are quite tricky to use, and their necks are also a bit floppy. We want to see if we make them move around the stage more easily.

So what's the first step?

We've been looking at original Bunraku puppets, for example from our 2005 show Low Life, where the neck mechanism is operated from the back and where a sense of the spine is created. This means the puppet has a centre, making it more solid and providing a different kind of movement.

Tell us about the head you are working on right now

I'm re-working a head I designed and made last year, that didn't make it in to the final show.

The new version is modeled on Germaine Greer. A feminist with a very old school look...

From the photos below you'll see I started sanding her first, shaping her head and making sure I have a smooth finish. I then began to add more detail and we have since found a wholly new character from the one we rehearsed last year. Hopefully she'll make it into the next outing of Citizen Puppet!

Friday, 10 June 2016

Meet a puppetry newbie...

Tibu Fortes, a performer and puppeteer in the Globe's A Midsummer Night's Dream, had never worked with puppets before. We chatted with Tibu about his experiences working with Mark on the Changeling Boy in the show...

Can you tell us a little bit about your experience working on the Changeling Boy in the show? 

I have never worked with puppetry before so when we were first introduced to the Changeling Boy puppet it was very exciting. However, before Mark joined us at rehearsals it was quite a struggle - figuring out how his limbs worked, feeling that the stick holding his head was not long enough whilst also trying to make him seem alive - it was difficult. He just wouldn't come to life. After a couple of sessions with Mark, the boy started waking up and we could see the other actors interacting with the boy more - bright smiles on their faces as they worked with him.

What would you say is the hardest thing about puppetry for you?

It can be physically quite difficult. Even though we are doing very physical stuff in the show just as actors, having the puppet and allowing it its space requires you to contort or push your physicality in a more taxing way. I think it's both emotionally and physically draining.

Is there a particular puppetry technique/tip that has stayed in your memory since the rehearsal period?

After a little while in to the rehearsal process, it suddenly hit me to 'act' as if I were the little Changeling Boy - to see the world from his eyes and experience his wants and pleasures - then he immediately came to life!

A Midsummer Night's Dream plays until 11 September. Tickets available here:

Monday, 6 June 2016

June's Puppet of the Month - Ogre

What are you made from?

I'm hand sculpted from Styrofoam and was designed by Nick Barnes. I have a moving mouth and need five puppeteers to bring me to life. I'm fairly high maintenance darling...

What have I seen you in?

I performed in El Gato Con Botas at The New Victory Theatre, New York, a family opera by Xavier Montsalvatge directed by Moises Kaufman. Blind Summit collaborated with Tectonic Theater Project and Gotham Chamber Opera on the production and you can see me in action in the film below:

What are you up to now?

I'm miles away in storage in New York awaiting a possible future production but I did have a life after El Gato Con Botas: the design for my head was used for the head of the Bonze in Le Rossignol in 2014 at Bregenz Festival as you can see below:

Puppeteer Profile: Ivan Thorley...

Ivan is a Blind Summit Associate who has worked with us since 2011 as a puppeteer and puppet maker on shows including The Table, The Magic Flute and the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. Since working with Blind Summit Ivan has founded his own company, Puppets with Guts, and is currently touring their outdoor production Citizen Squid

How did you start working with Blind Summit?

I was performing with the Rainbow Collectors, a collective made up of puppeteers and circus performers, at Battersea Arts Centre in mid 2011 where Blind Summit were sharing an initial scratch of The Table. I thought it was great and plucked up the courage to go and speak with Mark Down. After a brief chat I mentioned that I liked puppetry and Mark invited me to come to a rehearsal that following Monday. 

What's your favourite memory working with Blind Summit?

Touring The Table to New York to La Mama Theatre and MOSES giving a lecture to an audience of programmers and producers on the 'state' of puppetry...

Tell us about CITIZEN SQUID

It's an interactive big puppet spectacle that was originally commissioned by the Lyric Hammersmith and Watford Palace Theatre in 2015, and further commissioned by Wandsworth Council and Enable Arts and Leisure in 2016, supported by Arts Council England. 

We have been working with young people in transition over ten weeks on Patmore Estate in Battersea through a community engagement process. Come and see it! Our performance dates are below.

What else are you up to?

As a puppeteer I am also creative producing and puppeteering a secret high profile fashion show for London Fashion Week on 12th June... look out for further details on the Puppets with Guts FB page and Twitter!

You can see CITIZEN SQUID at:
- Greenwich & Docklands International Festival, 25-26 June
- Summer in Southside, Birmingham Hippodrome, 23-24 July
- Great British Carnival, Ramsgate, 28 July