Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan, Children’s Theatre Production Animal Farm

This month our programming consultants, emerging critics and staff team have been busy attending festivals and performances across Scotland, the UK and Europe as live performance and festival activity makes a return to our calendars.

Our European Contemporary Puppetry Critical Platform (ECPCP) project’s emerging critics have been working with mentors Arusa Qureshi and Gareth Vile to identify and attend performance work across the country to review, interview and produce written reflection on the contemporary puppetry, object and visual theatre scene. A welcome progression from the constraints of viewing work online over the past few years of the project – we’re delighted that our critics have been able to experience live work.

In April, Alistair Maxwell who has been a critic on the programme since 2020 travelled to Manchester to see Robert Icke’s Animal Farm. The show which used life sized puppets was produced by The Children’s Theatre Partnership in association with Birmingham Rep.

‘From the delicate fluttering of Moses, the raven, to the staggering height and tremendous muscles of Boxer (the horse), the stage is animated through constant yet careful movement and action by the puppeteers.’ (Read Alistair’s full review of the show on the Scottish platform).

Electra McPhillips and Ross Mackay joined the Puppet Animation Scotland team taking on our programming consultant roles funded through the Radical Care Fund in May and have been attending visual theatre work at Imaginate’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival as well as heading further afield to attend FIMFA Tarumba & FIMFA – FIMFA in Portugal.

Seeking out work and companies that could be a good fit for Manipulate Festival programming in the coming years – these trips and live experiences have made a big difference to the amount of live work and connections we are able to make with European and international visual theatre and puppetry sectors. Read more about these consultant programming posts here.

The additional programming support in place through these posts has increased the number of events and festival we can attend as a small core team too. Our Creative Producer Roisin, has been able to accept an invitation to attend the Baltic Visual Theatre Festival Showcase in Estonia this week where she’ll be viewing the best of visual theatre produced in the last year from the region and connecting with delegates from across Europe. Interim Director, Aidan, was also able to attend FIDENA festival in Bochum, Germany last week. We were able to trial travel to the festival by train- travelling to London and on overland from Brussels to Dortmund to reach Bochum in the Ruhr Valley.

Photo: Pumpenhaus the FIDENA Festival Hub, Bochum

Working with Creative Carbon Scotland towards our Net Zero goals, we are committed at Puppet Animation Scotland to reducing the carbon footprint of our organisation – this can be challenging when working within a live event sector and as an organisation which aims to present high quality international work to audiences in Scotland- although not all of these trips were able to be completed without air travel we are pleased to have chosen this option where it was possible!

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