Since manipulate festival (lower case ‘m’) announced that it would be coming to Norwich, we’ve all been very excited indeed. manipulate visual theatre festival is produced by Puppet Animation Scotland, and this year they will be bringing a series of shows to Norwich Puppet Theatre that will showcase the artform in a way that you’ve never seen it before (unless you’re a Plan B fan, but we’ll come to that later).
Right, so you’re sat there thinking what is this/will I like it/is it better than Pitch Perfect 3.
In short: the festival is bringing 5 events (3 shows and 2 workshops) to the fairytale-esque Norwich Puppet Theatre, and bringing to the stage some very innovative approaches to puppetry, that will push the boundaries not only of the medium, but of audience perception too. If you are a fan of theatre, performance, art, or are just interested and open minded, you’ll probably like it. Whether it’s better than Pitch Perfect is up to you, but what I can promise is that seeing a puppet show is unlike any cinema experience I’ve ever had. It’s intimate and honest – nothing that you see on stage can be achieved by CGI or special effects – which makes for the kind of performance that feels really special.
Title Image: Boris & Segey ; Image Credit Claudine Quinn, Lens on Legs
Two unique performances...
Boris and Sergey are kind of a big deal; they were in a Plan B video (watch it here; it’s a hard hitter), and now they’re bringing their ‘improvised crossover cabaret… for discerningly twisted adult audiences’ to Norwich. This riotous duo sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe where they amassed 7 5-star reviews, so this chaotic vaudeville act is not one to be missed while it’s here.
In 1971, Swedish Psychologist Gunnar Johansson attached white markers to a black-costumed actor's body, then filmed the actor walking against a black background. He discovered that simply from the movement of these markers, a viewer could not only identify a human walking, but also the age, mood and gender of that person.
From this phenomenon, Stephen Mottram conjures up characters out of the darknes for his show 'Parachute', using only white tipped wands and some deft choreography. When I first heard about this, I couldn't quite grasp how it would work, but having seen THIS preview, I am amazed by how flawless - and moving - this performance looks. These white marks have a unique character, and tell a funny and mesmerising story of life, love and confronting old age. Parachute will be followed by 'Watch the Ball': a short, magical piece about the suspension of disbelief.
And get involved in these workshops...
The workshops below are open to everyone, and suitable for beginners if you have no previous experience of working with, or creating puppets.
Flabbergast Theatre (of Boris and Sergey fame) are running this fantastic Bunraku Workshop, exploring this unique, very physical style of puppetry and how it has been used in other large scale theatre productions - War Horse, for example. It will touch on the three main principles of Fixed Point, Focus and Breath.
Join experienced course leader John Roberts to make your own fully working string puppet. Working from existing prototype drawings of a male or female marionette, learn to carve your own individual touches into the face, hands and shaping of the body. The workshop is ideal for beginners: it requires minimal tools and equipment (all materials are provided), and you can use this method using only a sturdy table and some hand tools.
For both courses, take a look at the Puppet Theatre website for prices, more information, and how to book.
COMING TO VISIT?
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