Puppetry

Whisker’s First Winter

Whisker’s First Winter just so happens to be my first Christmas show. Aimed at 2-6 year-olds and featuring beautiful puppets, a specially-created score and one impressive fluffy set, the show has been the focus of my life for the past few months.   I’ve been a professional puppeteer for several years now, but this is…

Hijinx puppetry in Cardiff

I recently spent a week working with Wales’ Hijinx Theatre on their show Meet Fred, as an understudy puppeteer. It was a brilliant few days in one of my new favourite cities, Cardiff. On the first day I rocked up at the Sherman Theatre, my workplace for the week. Ahead of me lay several days…

Vertebra Theatre in Sweden

If I don’t leave this country at least once a year I get itchy feet. My latest adventure and itch remedy took me to Gothenburg, Sweden earlier this month to puppeteer the feet of an ageing physicist with dementia called Alfie. Avid readers of my blog (so, basically you mum) may remember that back in…

Kneehigh Kitchen: cooking with creativity

Most theatre makers and performers in this country will have heard of Kneehigh theatre company, originally formed in Cornwall and now performing internationally. Over its nearly 40 years of making theatre the company has built up a repertoire of exciting work that twists and turns traditional storytelling conventions on their head to delight and provoke…

Curious School of Puppetry

Back in Cornwall, I breathe in the fresh sea air. I recently returned from nine weeks in London, six of which were spent at the Curious School of Puppetry, honing my craft, developing further skills, and working and playing with a delightful group of people. The Curious School of Puppetry is a unique training opportunity…

Broken Puppet 3: training for applied puppetry in healthcare

Applied puppetry is an area of work I’ve become increasingly interested in since starting my career as a puppeteer. The benefits of puppetry are being explored in a variety of areas, from healthcare and disability to community projects. I recently went to the Broken Puppet 3 symposium, which looked at training the applied puppetry practitioner….

Brunskill and Grimes puppet-making workshop

Many puppeteers are also puppet-makers, or at least have some skill in making. The more I work with puppets, the more interested I am in how they are put together, what materials they are made from and what considerations have gone into the design. Hot on the heels of the devising with puppets workshop before…

Devising puppetry with Brunskill and Grimes

As a puppeteer I am always looking for ways to develop my skills further. Going to workshops with various companies gives me the opportunity to solidify my technique while experiencing different ways of creating work. I recently had the pleasure of taking part in a Devising for Puppets workshop run by awesome puppetry duo Brunskill…

Devised puppetry project in Russia

Puppetry is powerful. It has the capacity to make people believe in life where there is none, to see a soul in a collection of strings and wooden sticks. And it doesn’t only affect the audience. It can have a profound effect on the puppeteer. With this in mind, for my third time teaching at…

To Moscow! Staging The Emperor’s New Clothes

My first time in Moscow coincided with the world cup in Russia this year. Not much of a football fan, the purpose of my visit was actually to direct a performance of The Emperor’s New Clothes with ENgage Theatre Arts. Working at the New School, Moscow, with 15 Russian students aged 12-16, I arrived at…

Puppetry and Oscar Wilde at the Blue Elephant

My most recent puppetry adventure saw me working with Vertebra Theatre again, with whom I travelled to Edinburgh Fringe last year to perform in ‘Dark Matter’. My puppet this time: Oscar Wilde. I joined the cast of ‘At the Heart of Things’, a dance piece inspired by Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis and featuring puppetry, live…

Broken Puppet 2: exploring puppetry and disability

I went along to my second puppetry conference recently, Broken Puppet 2: A Symposium on Puppetry and Disability Performance. Held at Bath Spa University over a weekend, the event gathered together performers, health practitioners, academics and theatre-makers to explore the ways puppetry and disability intersect. This was the second in the ongoing ‘Broken Puppet’ series…

Puppetry in Perth with Flabbergast Theatre

Australia was never on my list of must-see places (recovering arachnophobe here!). Flabbergast Theatre were definitely on my list of must-work-with companies. Recently I found myself performing with Flabbergast at Fringe World in Australia, so I had the chance to experience both. Fringe World Festival, in Perth, is the third largest Fringe in the world,…

EN-gage Theatre Arts drama facilitator training

New company EN-gage Theatre Arts recently ran a one-day training workshop at The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre in Manchester for its band of drama facilitators, including yours truly! The company, run by performer and facilitator Hebe Reilly, delivers drama projects in English for non-native English-speaking students. These projects are tailor-made to the school or…

British UNIMA AGM and puppetry talks at RCSSD

I headed over to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama recently for the AGM of British UNIMA and two talks about puppetry training and performance. British UNIMA is the UK branch of the Union Internationale de la Marionette (UNIMA), a non-governmental puppetry organisation affiliated to UNESCO. The event, Between Actors and Objects: Contemporary…

Clod Ensemble movement workshop with osteopath Leon Baugh

As an actor and puppeteer with many years of dance classes behind me, I am greatly interested in how and why my body moves the way it does. This is particularly true when it comes to injuries that impede my movement, and how to both deal with them and prevent future injuries. Recently, I was…

Skipton Puppet Festival 2017

Growing up not far from Skipton in Yorkshire, it was great to return there this weekend for Skipton Puppet Festival. This is my first year at the festival, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of it until this year. Getting to spend some time with my sister Amie while soaking up the atmosphere and…

The Great War Horse conference – exploring, celebrating and discussing puppetry

The word ‘conference’ used to immediately conjure up a vision of drab discussions about drab things punctuated with mediocre cups of coffee and dry sandwiches. I certainly would never have put the words ‘puppetry’ and ‘conference’ together, yet there I was at the weekend, heading to the lovely city of Canterbury for just that –…

Bristol Festival of Puppetry 2017

Today is the last day of one of my favourite events of this year, Bristol Festival of Puppetry. The Festival runs once every two years, organised by Puppet Place, a puppetry and animation hub in Bristol. I could only make it to the first few days of the Festival, so I fit in as much…

My first Edinburgh Fringe

Every year, come August, I’ve had the greatest fear that I was missing out. That’s because every August the whole of theatre land has gone crazy with Fringe fever, while I, stuck in London or Portsmouth or wherever I was at that time, have wished I could be up in Edinburgh where all the fun…

Teaching my first puppetry workshop… in Russia!

At the English summer camp in Russia with CLASS Study and Training Centre this year we wanted to teach the students some specific theatre skills that they could use in their final devised pieces. Along with a bunch of fun drama games for team-building, firing up imaginations and encouraging creativity, I led my first puppetry…

Russia summer camp: teaching English through drama

This summer saw me head off to Russia again to work at a summer camp on the Black Sea for a month, running drama workshops in English. I worked directly with CLASS Study and Training Centre this time, an English language school based in Rostov-on-Don, and there were three of us going over from England…

Performing puppetry at Brighton Fringe

Alfie the puppet made his first trip to Brighton the other week for Brighton Fringe Festival. It was also my first time performing at the Fringe there. With a generous and supportive audience, beautiful weather and a lovely review, it was a great first show for us. We were performing Dark Matter, a puppetry piece…

Puppetry rehearsals with Vertebra Theatre

I am currently rehearsing for my first professional puppetry role with Vertebra Theatre, in their show Dark Matter. Rehearsals are well under way and I’m loving getting to grips with both the play and the role of puppeteer as we near our first performance, at Brighton Fringe next week! The show deals with dementia and…

A workshop with Kneehigh’s Mike Shepherd

I recently got to meet a bit of a legend in the theatre world. Mike Shepherd, artistic director of Cornwall’s Kneehigh theatre company, came to Little Angel Theatre to give a day-long workshop as part of the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ sessions. When he turned up in a flat cap and long tweed coat and carrying…

Puppet Space at Little Angel Theatre

Delving further into the world of puppetry, a week ago I went along to Puppet Space at Little Angel Theatre, where I met some lovely creative folk and found out about their interesting projects. Puppet Space is a puppetry gathering that takes place at the Little Angel Studios a few times a year, giving puppeteers…

End of YSC tour

“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…” So Bottom sang as Pyramus, just before he dropped dead in Pyramus and Thisbe. Well, in our version anyway. Sam, who played Bottom, came out with it one rehearsal and it just stuck. And it nearly always got a chuckle from the…

Touring A Midsummer Night’s Dream

It’s been a busy few weeks, and we’re now almost into week five of touring A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Young Shakespeare Company. Going into rehearsals at the start of January was a great way to kick off the year. What actor wouldn’t want to start the year with a job! The company seems to…

Shadow puppetry at Little Angel Theatre

For our final class of the Puppetry Foundation Course at Little Angel Theatre (sob!) we had a go at shadow puppetry. It was a session of cutting, tearing, sticking, trying out ideas and having free reign to create whatever kind of shadow puppet we wanted. I loved it! Oli Smart took us through the three…

Speechless Theatre workshop

Telling stories without words. That’s what Speechless Theatre Company do. It’s also something I’m pretty interested in, so the other week I went along to a four-hour workshop the company were running to find out more about their devising process. James Callàs Ball and Anthony Cule (aka Speechless Theatre Company) led a small group of…

Making a moving mouth puppet

Over our last two puppetry classes at Little Angel Theatre we have been making simple moving mouth puppets. Using electric breadknives to sculpt foam blocks into heads and hot glue guns to stick on eyes, nose and the opening mouth, we created a variety of funny-looking characters. First came the drawing part. Drawing lots of…

More Scene Gym pics!

Following on from my post about the wonderful Scene Gym the other week, here are a few more pics of the event for your viewing pleasure. With thanks to Julia Taylor.

New writing at the Scene Gym

Get a bunch of actors, writers and directors together to have a play with some new writing and you end up with a day of creativity, networking and fun. On Friday 4th November I went along to Scene Gym, an event organised by actress Julia Taylor, the Artistic Director of Scene Gym, co-producer Tim Cook,…

Mime, puppetry and people

Last week was fantastic. I went to my first corporeal mime class, had a puppetry class at Little Angel Theatre, took part in ‘Scene Gym’ at the Old Vic Workrooms and attended a one-person storytelling workshop with Little Angel Theatre’s Artistic Director, Samantha Lane. The mime class was taught by Vini Carvalho of Fool’s Cap…

Jacket puppetry at Little Angel Theatre

I have a lovely (fake) leather jacket. Perfect for the autumnal weather, perhaps not so perfect for puppetry. It’s got a stiff neck, you see. Our most recent puppetry class at Little Angel Theatre involved animating our jackets. Oliver Smart led us through the stages of focus – thinking (eg of the clock on the…

Puppetry with plastic bags

Week three of the Little Angel Theatre puppetry foundation course saw us using black bin bags for our puppets. Puppeteer Oliver Smart went through some basic animation with us, including breath and focus, and the session included both group work in threes and working individually with a bag. Starting with a simple physical warm-up, Oliver…

A week of puppetry this and that

This week my puppetry journey took me to an audition with a company I greatly admire, a session of the Puppetry Foundation Course at Little Angel Theatre, and a workshop on puppetry and empathy in the classroom. I can’t say much more about the audition other than that it was a fantastic experience to be…

Gyre & Gimble puppetry training

I have always believed in a little bit of magic, and I think this is an essential quality for a puppeteer. The belief that one can breathe life into an otherwise inanimate collection of foam and wood is, in my mind, a belief in magic. Ever since those first finger puppet shows I made as…

Peaks and troughs

I’m nearly at the end of my first year out of drama school. They say the first few years are the most difficult, and I’m starting to appreciate that. It’s been an interesting year with mostly steady work and mostly very little money. There’s been the thrill of getting an agent (hi Carol!), the excitement…

Russia: drama summer camp

This post is so ridiculously overdue. Like many of my posts! In the three weeks since I got back from my first ever trip to Russia I have sat down a total of six times to try to write this post, and each time I’ve come up with nothing. Not because there was nothing in…

Rehearsing Synchron Productions’ Foresight

We are now over halfway into rehearsals for Synchron Productions’ latest play, Foresight, in which I play journalist Charlotte Foster. This is my second play with the company, after appearing in their first play, Chronicargo, back in November. This latest project has given me the opportunity to work with a friend that I trained with…

Into the Dark: playing Desdemona

My most recent project saw me treading the boards on the London fringe once again, this time in an adaptation of Othello at the Drayton Arms,  called Into the Dark. Directed by Polly Heinkel, training on the directing course at East 15, the show focused on the story of Shakespeare’s play through Iago’s eyes, or rather through…

Directing in Sicily with Oxford World Theatre

I’ve now been back over a week and my time in Sicily feels almost like a dream. Did it really happen? Was I really there? Just over two months ago I saw the job with Oxford World Theatre on Casting Call Pro, got an audition, and hey presto! The preparation started with a vengeance, and…

Audition for Oxford World Theatre

I had my first professional audition recently, and it was a really positive experience. I met some wonderful people, got to sing a song and play my ukulele, and I got the job! The audition was for Oxford World Theatre, a company founded by Oxford School of Drama graduate Daniel Zappi to ‘travel the world…


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