This year’s Puppet Animation Festival looks a little different than in previous years. The model of the festival, established over years of working closely with venues across Scotland, prioritises bringing work to audiences from tiny villages to large cities in every corner of the country. This is not on the face of it a model which makes sense to adapt for the screen, and we’ve only been able to achieve it by embracing one of the fundamental principles that make the festival what it is – collaboration.

Puppet Animation Festival 2017, Little Red by Sokobauno Puppet & Object Theatre

Arts centres and venues across Scotland have faced huge challenges as a result of the pandemic – in many cases it has proved an insurmountable struggle to keep their staff team paid and their buildings functioning. Even despite these challenges, we are in awe of our brilliant colleagues based in venues who have been seeking ways to continue bringing cultural experiences to their audiences in this difficult moment. Our partner venues at Puppet Animation Festival have come along on a journey with us to work in this new way for 2021 so that families across Scotland can access great performances and films. Through putting the festival together for 2021 we’ve been reminded that even in this year of isolation when we are further apart from one another than ever, some of our best work is achieved when we work together.

Puppet Animation Festival 2015, Red Riding Hood by Norwich Puppet Theatre. Photographer – Andy Catlin

When you book a ticket for our festival this year, you might be directed to a box office of a particular venue, but you can view our online work from any part of the country. For example, if you live in Inverness, you might be attending a performance hosted by Dumfries and Galloway Arts, or audiences in East Lothian might find themselves attending a screening hosted in Universal Hall, Findhorn. Children tuning into our interactive performances and workshops might find themselves sharing a zoom room with families in Bathgate, Birmingham or Berlin!

Puppet Animation Festival 2021, Stinky McFish and the World’s Worse Wish by Jo’s Portable Art Department

Each artist has responded differently to the exciting challenge of presenting work online. For the brilliant Scottish-based Ipdip Theatre, the opportunity to see and interact with their young audience felt vital, so they are sharing their fab new show Up and Down for ages 1-3 via Zoom, with opportunities to participate alongside other families. Theatre-Rites are a nationally and internationally acclaimed children’s theatre company whose work is often seen on stages around Europe; their bespoke performance film The Incredible Tale of Robot Boy (8+) was filmed in Schauspielhaus Bochum but is available to watch from the comfort of your sofa.

Puppet Animation Festival 2021, The Incredible Tale of Robot Boy by Theatre-Rites

We also understand that there is a growing weariness of screens and distance, and that the longing to be back in rooms together is real – especially when it feels closer now than it has before. That’s why we’ve created opportunities not only to watch but to make, do and participate. Leading puppeteers and animators will offer creative activities to get stuck in to at home with your little ones this Easter.

Our venue partners across the country this year are: Dundee Rep, The Brunton (Musselburgh), Harbour Arts Centre (Irvine), Dumfries and Galloway Arts, the Beacon Arts Centre (Greenock) and Universal Hall (Findhorn), Eden Court (Inverness), East Ayrshire Council, Catstrand (Castle Douglas), North Edinburgh Arts (Edinburgh), WHALE Arts (Edinburgh) and North East Arts Touring.


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