Dundee Rep, Tue 22–Thu 31 Jan


Even for hardened theatre goers, a performance that plunges the dark depths of the human psyche using puppets is pretty exceptional. Manipulate, a new festival promoting puppetry, shadow theatre, dance and animation aims to challenge our preconceived notions of theatre forms most often associated with kids by showcasing some of Europe’s best practitioners.

‘There is a focus on the visual rather than the text, and the exploration of the human condition is quite dark in all of the shows,’ says Artistic Director Simon Hart. ‘That’s what we mean by work for adults. There’s no sexual connotation, but the themes and the emotional violence is quite challenging. In the UK, when one says “puppets” there is an immediate association with Sesame Street and children’s TV. We hope this festival will encourage the wider public to look at the art form again, because it’s capable of harnessing any subject and emotional environment and exploring it.’

There will be work from Belgium, England, France and the Netherlands, including Stephen Mottram’s The Seed Carriers and Duda Paiva’s intriguing Angel, featuring a three feet tall angel puppet, a downtrodden tramp and some ‘really powerful dance’. ‘We are very pleased with the programme because all four pieces are classic visual theatre and very well known within their respective countries,’ says Hart. ‘This is strong work of great calibre, and there will be very little opportunity to see this work unless you come to our festival!’ Don’t be left hanging – go see.

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