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!