Bristol will be abuzz with all things puppet-related as the internationally renowned biennial festival kicks off at the end of August with a bursting programme celebrating puppetry in all its weird and wonderful forms.
Now in its third year, Bristol Festival of Puppetry is the only English Festival to celebrate the art form of puppetry on stage and film, attracting audiences from far and wide to the city. Expect a rich and diverse programme that presents local and regional companies and artists, while showcasing some of the very best international puppetry and animation.
Special Events include Peter Lord (Aardman Co-founder and Puppet Place Patron) hosting a night of his favourite short films (A Celebration of Puppet Animation, 4th Sept). Tom Morris (Bristol Old Vic artistic director and co-director of War Horse) will present an open masterclass on puppetry for the big stage with original War Horse puppeteer Toby Olié (A Matter of Life and Death, 4 September).
Confirmed international acts include the UK premiere of the latest international co-production by Ulrike Quade (NL) and Jo Strømgren Kompani (NO). Ulrike Quade makes a welcome return after her sublime performance of The Writer in 2011. For 2013 she performs Munch & Van Gogh, The Scream of The Sunflower. On a popular TV show, historical figures are brought back to life; will Munch and Van Gogh play along?
DudaPaiva Company present Bastard! (pictured left), an award winning cross art performance of puppetry, dance and physical theatre inspired by Boris Vian's L'Arrach-coeur.
For the first time the Festival moves outside for a very special late night performance: the UK premiere of Vindstille by Dutch company The Lunatics. A father, a son and a lover are bound together by a woman and the sea in this stormy and poetic tale.
The Brewery Theatre hosts performances from some fantastic emerging companies including London based Sparkle and Dark with their new piece Killing Roger, the Balkan bad boys of puppetry Boris and Sergey return to the Festival courtesy of Edinburgh Fringe favourites, Flabbergast Theatre, and Theatre Témoin bring their extraordinary show The Fantasist to Bristol for the first time.
Families are finely catered for with a fun and interactive programme of shows that include Bristol based Pickled Image presenting their show Fireside Tales with Granddad. Using storytelling and puppetry, Granddad recounts his adventures with a hungry shark, grumpy trolls and sneaky princes. The storytelling theme continues in the form of Silly Boys' equine adventure The Tallest Horse on Earth and The Sun, The Moon and Half A Chicken by Storybox Theatre.
Chris Pirie, festival co-producer said of this year's festival: "This year we are pushing boundaries and exploring the outer reaches of puppetry. We want to stimulate the debate about what puppetry is and its power to provoke. We have a wonderful mash up of puppetry, physical theatre, street performance, dance, film and animation. Some of it is free, some of it is ticketed, all of it is brilliant! I hope you can come along and be a part of it."
The festival also boasts lots of participatory opportunities and new initiatives for adults and children alike. These include practical puppetry workshops, the Creatures of Bristol Carnival, this year's opening event, the Puppet Trail along North Street and Open Doors day at Puppet Place.
Aardman Animations will be curating a Puppetry Exhibition presenting visuals and objects from their award winning collection of creations and the ever popular Smoking Puppet Cabaret returns fresh from the Shambala festival with an after show line up of shorts from performers with acts ranging from the beautiful to the downright twisted. The hub of activity will continue to be based at the Tobacco Factory Theatre's performance and studio spaces, along with the Theatre's car park and the streets and green spaces of Southville.
Full details of the Bristol Festival of Puppetry can be found here