Puppet Animation Festival
Tall oaks from little acorns grow, and the Puppet Animation Festival has grown into quite an oak. From humble beginnings at the Netherbow Theatre in Edinburgh, the Festival has spread its seeds to cover the entire country. In 1984 there were just 12 puppet shows in the Festival, now there are over 300.
But that’s not the only change in recent years. ‘I think more people are aware of puppetry now,’ says Ailie Finlay of Flotsam & Jetsam theatre company. ‘I spent five years in Canada and when I came back in 2002 there was a really different attitude towards it. There’s more puppetry of a high standard now, and whereas in the past when you mentioned puppet shows, people thought of Punch and Judy – now the image in their heads is shows like Shona Reppe’s Cinderella or Puppet State’s The Man Who Planted Trees.’
This year’s Festival features puppetry in all its forms – shows using music, UV lighting or beautifully embroidered sets, shows set in forests, gardens, kitchens and castles – plus a whole series of interactive workshops. Finlay has two workshops in the Festival this year, including Little Red Riding Hood, where all the children taking part become stars of the show.
‘I start off with storytelling, then they make puppets and we all act out the story together,’ explains Finlay. ‘But I encourage them to see the story as only a starting point, so they can bring any characters into it they like. I provide materials and do a lot of preparation, so the children can put their efforts into making the character, rather than the mechanics of a puppet. It’s just lovely – they get so enthusiastic.’
For full details of all the Festival shows, and where they’re playing (including Finlay’s workshops) visit www.puppetanimationfestival.org
Various venues until Sun 26 Apr