We’re Back! 2 puppeteers and a baby at Settle Stories

As you know, from my previous post, I have been very busy recently with my pregnancy and then looking after baby Anthony.

Well, Anthony has passed his first birthday and it’s back to work again for me.

Settle Stories (an excellent storytelling festival, local to us) took place just a few days after the end of my maternity leave so we decided to visit the “Artists Hangout” at the Bell tent and catch up with some other artists, and the festival organisers to see if there were opportunities to be involved in the future.

We met some very interesting people – including Hassan El Geretly, (artistic director of El Warsha Theatre Company from Egypt) and a lady called Nicky – a storyteller based in Manchester.  We also met up with a painting teacher, a landscape photographer/artist, some actors and a small number of the actual performers from the festival itself.  These included Darius Nash and Tamar Eluned Williams, who were performing Stories for the Silver Tree.  Darius was also leading a clowning workshop at the festival.  Here is their Youtube video below for this performance:

The festival organisers Sita Brand and Charles Tyrer were also there and spoke about their plans for developing longer term relationships with artists at the festival.  This, they hoped, would allow artists to get to know each other and the people and environment of Settle.

After the meeting, we went into the “Dungeons & Dragons” cafe in the Friends Meeting House which was really wonderful – decorated with cobwebs and a handmade dragon on the wall.  All of the refreshments were themed and the helpers were all in costume.  Not only that but on each table there was a little handmade Dungeons & Dragons game with little tiddly-winks for counters so you could have a game with your refreshments!

Unfortunately, it was a rainy day but this did not seem to put off the dauntless British punters: the cafes and streets were certainly crowded at lunchtime!  After our lunch we decided to have a go (in what time we had left) at the geo-caching story trail.  We successfully found one cache in the vicinity of the Friends Meeting House, (I’m not allowed to say where or it will spoil it for other people) and tried our hardest to find another one somewhere near the old signal box at Settle train station but neither Tim or myself had any luck.

We did find that the Friends of Settle and Carlisle Railway had volunteers showing off the restored old signal box and letting people have a go pulling the levers and making the lights show and the bells sound.  Tim and myself took it in turns to hunt for caches with Anthony at ground level and go up to the signal box.  We even got a commemorative certificate to show we’d had a go at operating the signals!

It would have been nice to have had time to sample more of the shows and workshops but we did have a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing time while we were there.  I believe the Listening Gallery is a permanent installation so we’ll be able to pop back and visit that on another occasion.


I’m back doing shadow puppet shows and workshops in primary schools again, now that my maternity leave is over.  These workshops fit with the topics of light and shadow and traditional tales, making them ideal for the primary curriculum. These workshops involve a short show by me (“Jabberwocky“, “Edward Lear’s Nonsense” or “The Interrupted Wedding“) followed by the children making their own puppets and putting on their own shows in groups.  If you would like me to come and work with your school please CONTACT ME for more information and to book 🙂


We are also available for street theatre walkabouts featuring either of the Shadow Puppet Suitcase shows (“Jabberwocky” & “Edward Lear’s Nonsense“) and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party walkabout show.

Edward Lear’s Nonsense is the perfect show for food festivals.  The suitcase shows are also perfect for Christmas entertainment or for a festival of light and I have costumes to fit all of these occasions.

Don’t hesitate to contact me to book or for more information.


We’re producing a new larger-scale shadow puppet show, suitable for large audiences in schools and other indoor venues.  It’s early days for the project but I can reveal that it’s based on the traditional Japanese Fairy Tale “The Magic Ear”.  The show has an environmental theme and can include an accompanying junk percussion workshop.

We’re taking bookings for Autumn this year and 2019.  Email me here if you’d like to know more.  I’ll be blogging about the project in detail soon – keep your eyes peeled!


Bye 2014 – Hello 2015!


Hello again everyone!  The above images are from last year and did not make it into my blogs at the time because my phone whose camera these pictures were taken on died and I only recently managed to successfully retrieve the photo’s.

The first few pictures are from Buxton Puppet Festival where I saw Peter Piper Puppets version of Punch & Judy and Diddley Dee Puppets show “Rabbits to the Rescue”.

You may recall in a previous post that I held forth (at some length) against the “dumbing down” of Mr Punch with misplaced sense of political correctness.  Very soon after that I encountered this performance in which the puppeteer declared in no uncertain terms at the beginning of the show that this was exactly what he WAS planning to do.  Poor Mr. Punch was transformed into a sad and pathetic individual who not only didn’t get to hit anyone with a slapstick but was instead on the receiving end of a giant pencil wielded by a clumsy social worker in the form of Joey the clown, (among other indignities).  This was after Mr. Punch lost the baby after trying to teach the baby to walk.

The audience seemed to enjoy the show and “Peter Piper” rounded off the show by turning the audience into an impromptu band to process to the next outdoor entertainment.

However, in my opinion one of the best parts of the show were Mr Punch’s dog being taken for a walk by the puppeteer prior to the show and “weeing” all over the audience (with the cunning deployment of a not wholly invisible water pistol).  The other fun part was two unconventional “stagehand” characters whose function was to appear and hammer and saw at various parts of the booth and to tell the audience that the show wasn’t ready and hadn’t started yet.

“Rabbits to the Rescue” was obviously intended for an audience younger than myself and I have to admit to finding it a little twee.  For what it was though it was a lot of fun and the children obviously enjoyed it.  It was well performed and the puppets were very charming and nicely constructed.

I also attended Mintfest in Kendal as an X-trax delegate last year and that is where the other photo’s are from.

The previous year’s Mintfest (2013) we had been busy performing all day Saturday and Sunday with our “Fred Fettler’s “Pony 3000″ – The Transport of the Future!” show in the Westmorland Shopping Centre and thus had not had much time to see other people’s shows or to talk to bookers about our work.

“The Table of Thoughts” was an installation which was in an upstairs shop space in the Westmorland Shopping Centre.  I thought this was a very brave and unusual thing to include in a street arts festival but Mintfest are very good at including things that are a bit more challenging and different.  The installation consisted of a dining table with various peculiar “place settings” and foodstuffs.  The audience can sit at any seat at the table and by listening to an audio file from an mp3 player through earphones get a voice-over of the internal thoughts of the person whose place they are sat in.  This monologue is reflected in the appearance of the place setting in front of them as well.  In addition to this there are general ambient, but subdued, sound effects such as cutlery being used and muted unintelligible conversation.  I listened to all of the monologues, each of which was quite unique, and enjoyed them thoroughly.

I also had the opportunity to take part in our good friends at Frolicked’s game called “The Birds”.  We had heard them talking about this project at an X-Trax shorts presentation previously so it was great to get an opportunity to try it out.  We had to find a missing endangered bird, (who I am pictured with above) in teams.  I was with a dad and his little girl and another couple, none of whom I’d met before.  I did wonder if being in a team of other people I didn’t know would be awkward but they were all lovely and the activity was extremely challenging, exciting and fun!  It was obviously meant to be done in a group of mixed adults and children as some of the tasks/clues would be too difficult for small children and the challenges set were hard enough to be totally engaging and exciting for adults.  I am sorry to say that our team did not win though I think we did a touch better than some of the others.  I am saying no more but if you get a chance to take part in this game yourself, I would wholeheartedly recommend it.

One of the other puppetry offerings at Mintfest was Burek the marionette dog – puppeteered by Lucasz Puczko.  He is from Poland and has travelled to lots of different countries with this act.  I have recently found out at the X-trax Northern Street Arts Networking event that Lucasz enjoyed the reactions of the audiences in Kendal so much that he has now moved to England to live and work and is currently based in Bradford.

It was very refreshing, after hearing a bit of doom and gloom from a lot of people on the state of the industry in this country and the amount of work/money/opportunities available, that someone would actively seek out England as a place to work because of the friendliness of the people and the audiences.  Jeremy Shine was very keen to promote Lucasz’s act on the basis of it developing a hitherto untapped audience – dogs!

A lot of dogs seemed keen to interact with Burek but most seemed a bit disturbed by something that looked and moved like a dog but obviously did not smell like one!

I have heard a lot of people say that the best way to keep new year’s resolutions is to put them down publicly on a blog like this.

Last year was a good one for us in many ways with a lot of firsts.  We produced a new show “Clueless & Wuffles” for Glastonbury, (which we were attending for the first time).  I performed at Morecambe Variety Festival and also did workshops and performances for a number of Primary Schools that I hadn’t visited before.

Tim and I performed in Skelmersdale with our Mad Hatter’s Tea Party walkabout show, (somewhere I have never visited or performed before).  Together with Rough Magic Theatre founder member Leo Nolan I created a French Nursery Rhymes for beginners show: “Nursery Rhymes with Monsieur le Fou” for Wakefield Grammar School Foundation on European Languages Day.

And to crown the year off I created a new light up costume for another event I hadn’t been involved with previously the “Light Up Lancaster” illuminations event.

We were also invited back to what is becoming a regular event the CARnival Bentham.  My ever popular Shadow Puppet Suitcase shows had a lot of airings as did the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and the Hansel & Gretel and “The Interrupted Wedding” shows made a couple of appearances too.

My resolution always tends to be to get more work.  I have been doing well with my aim to get more work doing “light and shadow” workshops in schools in Spring, Autumn and Winter but more schools work would be welcome, (please get in touch if you’d like a workshop/show or both in your school).  I shall be visiting a school in Hartlepool on Monday and I shall let you know how we get on next week.

I would also like to get more work with our main hour long indoor show “Alice in Wonderland” as last year was a quiet year for this show whilst being a popular one for the show’s offshoot Mad Hatter’s Tea Party walkabout show.  Please get in touch if you are interested in booking either of these for your school, theatre, literature festival, book day etc.

In order to get more done I am also resolving to get up earlier rather than hearing the alarm go off and falling back asleep again.  I also therefore have to go to bed on time and I am also trying to build more exercise into my schedule.

It would also be great (time permitting) to finally finish of the new version of the Rough Magic Theatre Website that has been ongoing for a couple of years now.  I also resolve to be more disciplined about doing the old social media regularly rather than the rather hap-hazard approach that I’ve been taking recently.

It would be really great to hear what your New Year’s Resolutions are too.  Please leave a reply on this post, (business or personal goals or both) 🙂