“Catch The Wind” in Morecambe and Catching Puppets at Upfront Theatre

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For those who are not aware of it, I would recommend a visit to Morecambe for the “Catch the Wind” Kite Festival (run by our lovely friends in Morecambe – More Music) which is always a great day out and happens every year.

As you can see from the photos, one of the main features of the festival are the spectacular giant kites on the beach which are like a kind of puppet really.  The giant kites this year included a whale, a diver, some snakes, a gecko and a lion as well as a giant multicoloured windsock.  Morecambe is the perfect place for a festival like this as they can always guarantee plenty of wind for the kites, (though I believe sometimes the wind gets too strong which can cause problems).

We visited on Sunday the 24th and had planned to try and fly our own kite which we made at a kite making workshop at the Looking Well Studios (Pioneer Projects) in Bentham some years ago.  It was a really good design and easy to fly, and I had been meaning to try it out again for some time.  Unfortunately we discovered that the plastic had perished so we had a good time on the beach with Anthony trying out his bucket and spade/rake for the first time instead.

Afterwards we went to the lovely Brucciani’s Ice Cream grade 2 listed ice cream parlour, which opened in 1939 and still has all the original interior art deco decor.  The Brucciani family have been making and selling ice cream in Morecambe for over 100 years, and still run the business today.  As with most Morecambe businesses, the prices are very reasonable and we are very keen to give our custom to independent businesses like this.

The next day, having found out that John Parkinson had put together a puppet display and talk for an open studio event, we decided this was the perfect excuse to have a day out at Upfront Puppet Theatre and Gallery in Unthank, near Penrith.

We’d visited before for the first ever Puppeteers UK meeting when John was still in the process of building the new theatre and more recently to see the circus show using Stan Parker’s marionettes.  The exhibition we were going to see was of John’s own work, spanning his 40 year career.  It included photographs as well as some beautiful puppets.

Unfortunately we missed the talk part (which was on the Friday) and there were no labels on the puppets or photographs so the captions on the photos are my own guesswork.

We were particularly pleased to see John’s “Alice in Wonderland” puppets up close as Alice is one of our particular favourites.  We do, of course, have our own production of “Alice” as well as the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party walkabout show.  CLICK HERE for more info.

While we were there, we discovered that there was also an exhibition of Commedia dell’Arte masks upstairs so we had a look at that as well.

They were the results of a 2 year residency by David Griffiths at a Leeds school who’d asked him to create commedia dell’Arte masks for them.  As well as the wooden forms, which are the base for all of the other masks, he created a set of flat pack cardboard masks which could be used for schools as well as plastic and leather masks (made using a process only 4 people in this country use, according to David).  You can see more photos and info about his exhibition and workshops on his website by clicking HERE

For those who do not know anything about Commedia dell’Arte, it was a form of theatre from Renaissance Italy which involved improvised drama around a set of stock characters or stereotypes each with a distinctive mask, costume and movements, voice and posture.

Mr. Punch is based on the character of Pulcinella and the Harlequinade, which was a feature of early pantomime in this country, was also based on Commedia dell’Arte characters (Arlecchino became Harlequin).

 

John has invited us to come back and see their show of The Pied Piper of Hamelin (first showing July 20th) so we’ll hopefully be attending that and telling you all about it a bit later on.

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A Whole lot of puppet stuff!!! Pt.1of 2 – Lancashire Encounter & Skipton Puppet Festival

Hello everyone – I have been quiet for ages for the pleasant reason that I have been super busy.  I’ve been so super busy that I can’t tell you about everything in one go so tune in next week for more puppetty adventures!

First of all “Fred Fettler’s “Pony 3000” – The Transport of the Future” show trotted off to Preston on the 26th & 27th of September for a “Lancashire Encounter”!  “Lancashire Encounter” is a festival that is new this year and hopefully could turn into an annual event to fill in the space between the Preston Guild Celebration years.

We had a fantastic time encouraging the locals and visitors to try our fabulous pedal powered vehicle from the future.  What made the event even nicer was that the organisers had thoughtfully put the puppetry people next to each other so our next door neighbour was Mark Whitaker from Horse + Bamboo with his wonderful Chinese glove puppet show “Festival”.  We had seen Mark perform this fabulous show at Skipton Puppet Festival previously.

CLICK HERE to see photo’s from the “Lancashire Encounter” Facebook page.

 

And speaking of Skipton Puppet Festival – This was on the following week (2nd-4th October) and Mark was doing “Festival” again when we visited Skipton to check out all the shows.

Having seen him perform it about 20 million times the week before we decided to concentrate on enjoying the other shows that were on offer at Skipton.  You can see some of the things we enjoyed in the photo’s above.

We also took the opportunity to go and see Indigo Moon perform their “Jungle Book” show which was absolutely fabulous and used a lot of clever, modern shadow puppetry techniques.  I was particularly interested to watch the techniques Anna Ingleby uses because she is a solo puppeteer in their shows.  Haviel Perdana does all the sound and lighting etc. but only Anna does the puppeteering.  It is tempting to think that less can be done in a show if one has less puppeteers but Anna certainly does not leave the audience short-changed in their performances.  There was enough going on to keep an audience of both young and old enthralled for a whole hour and everyone was invited to see the puppets and scenery afterwards and ask questions too.

We also visited Indigo Moon’s “Minster Monster” shadow puppet installation which was very interesting and used “monsters” from Beverley Minster as inspiration.  What was especially impressive was that the display was still in good working condition despite being left for people to play with unsupervised for extended periods of time!

I was also particularly pleased to have the opportunity to see “Kabaret de Poche” having seen their website including videos of the show and a fun origami mouth instruction video!

My next post shall tell you all about our trip to Lincolnshire to perform our “Alice in Wonderland” show at Wolds Words Festival, our visit to London to teach shadow puppetry to 1st year puppetry students at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and a visit to a primary school in Middlesbrough to make hand and string puppets!

In the meantime if you are needing some last minute Christmas entertainment please CLICK HERE to check out our Christmas Shows! 🙂