Puppet Animation Scotland is continuing into our second year of our International Emerging Critics project funded through Creative Europe in an exciting partnership with Vilnisus Teatrus in Lithuania, Ljubljana Puppet Theatre in Slovenia and The Academy of Arts and Culture in Osjek, Croatia. The International Emerging Critics Programme has already offered 6 Scottish participants the opportunity to view, attend, network and review puppetry and visual theatre around the country. Most recently attending shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, Hidden Door Festival and travelling to see Vision Mechanic’s STORM appearing in Falkirk, Dumfries and Glasgow. The group of aspiring emerging writers/bloggers have produced written work and published pieces on the EU Contemporary Puppetry Critical Platform discussing these live performances over the last year.

We are carrying out a further call out ahead of Manipulate Festival 2022 to bring on a new co-hort of emerging writers/critics for the second year of the project which will run to November 2022.  Participants of the programme will receive free theatre tickets over the year to attend a range of work within Scotland, expenses for travel and meals where required, mentorship and feedback on their writing, the chance to meet and interview artists and to connect with an international cohort of peers across 4 European countries. As the programme develops there may also be opportunities to have your work published and to attend festivals in our partner countries throughout 2021.  During Manipulate Festival 2022 we are hosting a residency weekend for emerging critics and their mentors from Lithuania, Slovenia and Croatia. The groups will attend shows alongside their Scottish contemporaries over the opening weekend of the festival – as well as having the opportunity to network, socialise and attend an exclusive round table discussion with artists and sector professionals.

MANIPULATE 2019. Invisible Lands by Livsmedlet Theatre. Image: Elly White

We are also excited to be bringing on board a new lead mentor for the second year of the project, Arusa Qureshi is a writer and editor based in Edinburgh, and a passionate advocate for diversity and accessibility within arts and culture. She is the former Editor of The List and writes mostly about music, most recently Flip the Script – a book about women in UK hip hop, published by 404 Ink. Her work has appeared in the Scotsman, Clash, The Guardian, GoldFlakePaint, Time Out, NME and more. In 2017, she was shortlisted for PPA Scotland’s Young Journalist of the Year award and was also the winner of the Allen Wright Award for quality writing in arts journalism. She is on the board of the Scottish Music Centre and is a Trustee of the Saltire Society. Arusa has previously mentored students looking to get into publishing and journalism, as well as young critics reviewing at the Fringe and other arts festivals.

Also working as a mentor on the project and supporting our initial group of critics since we launched this opportunity in 2020 is Gareth K. Vile, who has over twenty years’ experience of both teaching and journalism. He is currently a PhD candidate at Glasgow University, exploring the relationship between performance and sequential art, as well the Theatre Editor of the List and a teacher of Latin at Loretto School in Musselburgh. He will be joined across the project by other mentors, who will cover specific areas of interest and concern in the critical process, and who have experience of critical writing, issues of inclusion and diversity and engaging with contemporary audiences through multiple media.

Our definition of emerging is anyone who is relatively new to critical writing and feels they would benefit from this programme, therefore there is no upper age or upper experience limit. You do not need to have any prior experience to participate in the programme, only enthusiasm for seeing live work and writing about it. This opportunity would suit anyone 16+ with an interest in live theatre and performance – you might be an emerging writer or director, a university student, a final year school pupil with a desire to study theatre at university or an older professional looking to make a career shift or develop your critical creative skills. If you’re not sure whether this is the right opportunity for you, please feel free to contact Puppet Animation Scotland’s Festivals and Project Manager Aidan for a relaxed and friendly chat on [email protected]

This is only one part of a larger project which aims to increase understanding of and conversation about contemporary puppetry across Europe, with publications and a collaborative online resource being generated which participants in this project will have opportunities to connect with.

If you think you might be interested in the programme, the process of letting us know is really informal – please drop an email to Heidi at [email protected] with a CV and 1-2 paragraphs about why you’re interested in taking part. The deadline for expressions of interest is 5 January at 5pm.

Image: Elly White, Invisible Lands by Livsmedlet Theatre, MANIPULATE 2019.

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