Scotland / Pakistan Cultural Exchange: puppeteer Emma Brierley tells us about her experience.

This year, Puppet Animation Scotland worked with the British Council Scotland on an exchange programme between Scotland and Pakistan, which aimed to develop connections between the Scottish and Pakistan arts and cultural sectors. Scottish-based puppeteer Emma Brierley worked collaboratively with award-winning young Pakistani puppeteer Yamina Peerzada, on the delivery of a puppetry workshop at both Women of the World (WOW) Festivals in Perth, Scotland, and in Karachi, Pakistan, in September and December 2018. “Yamina and I were able to really get to know each other through our discussions, the work progressed and was enhanced by this time.” Emma tells us.

 

“Together, we formed an instant bond, and were very open with one another, sharing personal experiences related to the workshop’s theme.” Continues Emma. The theme chosen by British Council Scotland for the exchange was “Women and Girls”, for its contemporaneity, and its importance for both the arts and cultural sectors in Scotland. The Women of the World (WOW) festival Emma and Yamina collaborated on is a festival celebrating women and girls, and looking at the obstacles that stop them from achieving their potential. Through its global network of festivals, it offers a platform for celebrating what has been achieved and exploring all the ways we can change the world for the better. Emma and Yamina decided to interpret the theme around body image, using puppetry and digital language to create their workshop. Emma explains: “We decided to look at body image as a specific focus to the work, as this is an international issue very much present in both our cultures. We used the already active hashtag, #mybodymyvoice to add our outcomes to this established movement. We were hopeful that participants would have fun celebrating their bodies while making their puppets, and this was the case.” Speaking about the workshop’s impact on the public, she says: “Solidarity and celebration are incredible tools in creating/sustaining and supporting communities. One woman came to the workshop alone, she made her puppet, quiet, focused and engaged, then left and came back with her teenage daughter and friend, she wanted them to experience it too, together we made a space for that family to discuss their bodies in an open and positive way.”

 

What comes next for Emma? She tells us: meeting the team (at WOW Perth) has opened a new partnership for me, in December 2018 / January 2019 I will be working with them to create a puppet and costume prop for their new show that is being made in collaboration with The Little Angel Theatre in London.” She will also work as the Production Designer for the Scottish Youth Theatre festive shows, and she will create a new show with Yamina for the Pakistan’s Puppet Festival in 2019. It is anticipated that this will also result in a tour around schools in Lahore and its surrounding areas.

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