Butcher Needs a Lift

Butcher wants to hitch his way to Albury to see MAMA. Will you stop for him? 

If he can make it to Albury, he’ll be joined by his Cow friends and the Human Body Parts.


MAMA’s Big Night Out

MAMA Albury bannerWe’re headed to Albury soon for the huge opening celebration party of MAMA Albury’s new art museum.

MAMA’s Big Night Out is being co-ordinated by Artistic Director, Elizabeth Walsh, “It’s more than a street party, it will be like a choreographed event in the square. If people are expecting balloons and sausage sizzles they’ll be disappointed, it’s going to be much more.”

Our Human Body Parts and Cows will be part of the fun and they sure are ready to party! We’re performing Friday 2 October and Saturday 3 OCtober.

A Note from Nick: Typhoons, Super-Keen Cucumber Wranglers, and a Chanting Circle

Part Three of Nick Wilson‘s Japan diary:

The final stage of our Japan trip was a week-long visit to Honjima Island, to exhibit puppets, meet the community, run some workshops, make some guest appearances on the mainland, and to present a feature performance in the island’s disused Kabuki theatre.

While statistically the communities of Urada and Honjima might look similar in some ways, we all felt a definite shift in the atmosphere on moving from Urada’s endless green mountains and rice-fields to this small-island fishing village on the Seto Inland Sea. During the ferry trip across, Japan’s longest bridge appeared to neither start nor end, but to bypass the island and disappear in ocean mist on its way somewhere else. Parts of the island are quite visibly abandoned, neglected and overgrown: weeds grow through cracked concrete, and the salty air turns metal fixtures into flaky brown rust before their time. Honjima’s population has fallen from 4000 in the 1960’s to 400 today, of which only 20 are school-aged children. It is one of 12 islands that are host to the region’s Setouchi Art Triennale, another ambitious and immense project by Fram Kitagawa to revitalise dwindling regions through the arts.

Our venue was Chito Tse-za, a beachside Kabuki theatre dated to 1862, and barely opened in the last thirty years. A fine example of the smart simplicity of traditional Japanese construction, the front panels slide open to either side of the building, and the waist-high rails fold outward to form an extension of the stage, which the audience views from outside in a public courtyard. We were instantly charmed by its elegant design, skilful construction and dilapidated ambience. It seemed an ideal gateway into that parallel, slightly surreal world that our puppets often inhabit: where the impossible and the dreamlike can invade mundane streets; where the fictional ‘puppet world’ shares an open boundary with the lives of our audience.

Continue Reading →

Q&A with KC

2015 was our third year at Aarhus Festuge. Our puppets love getting up close and personal with the people of Aarhus, and our performers love visiting!

Our Tour Manager and Production Manager Katrina Chandra gave us the low down:

What surprising things have you learnt this time travelling with Snuff Puppets?

One of Aarhus’ famous old architects hated the church so much he put gargoyles and mad faces on all the buildings he designed, all pointing at the church.

What feedback did you get from audiences?

Audiences have been loving us here at Aarhus festival. Especially as seagulls have recently been declared a pest which can be shot (with a special license though, luckily no one has tried yet). As per usual kids ask if the puppets are real – one at the school we performed at today thought they were remote controlled robots…

What’s the most interesting/funny/weird experience while on tour?

How violent kids can be!

But seriously, being in international arts festivals is always great, we get to meet cool people and see great stuff, getting immersed in local culture as well as seeing amazing art from around the world.

A Note From Nick: Once in a Lifetime

Another note from Nick Wilson and the team in Japan:

Wow, what an unbelievable couple of weeks! It’s hard to explain to people who haven’t experienced a People’s Puppet Project what it is that we actually do out here: how much we ask of ourselves and our collaborators, the dense networks of amazing people that form around us, and of course the seemingly miraculous end-product; a world-class giant visual theatre spectacle made from conception to presentation, including puppets, story and soundtrack, by and about a community that has never done or even seen anything like it before. All of this in just ten days.

We arrived in the beautiful, dwindling mountain town of Urada, population 300, with little knowledge about it, and sunk in deep, quickly seeking out a sense of the culture and environment, its quirks and points of difference, the experiences and stories people seem to have in common.

On our first workshop day we met the residents, played some games, had some discussions and decided on which puppet characters to make. Two weeks later they were on stage performing their own fully realised Snuff Puppets show at an international arts festival in the neighbouring village of Matsudai.

That was at Noh Bu Tai theatre last weekend, and it was every bit as powerful, chaotic, ambitious, serene, touching, hilarious and beautiful as we could ever hope a show like this could be. The venue staff were beyond professional, Echigo-Tsumari management, staff and volunteers all went out to get us over the line, and our Urada cast completely blew us away. Surviving a heavy puppet for 45 minutes is a big undertaking even for professional performers, and these guys weren’t just surviving they were excelling. The energy of the crowd was bordering on euphoric. Urada’s elderly rubbed shoulders with Tokyo art crowds and local politicians, getting pushed and ushered around the space together in delighted awe.

The rain held off long enough for us to use the terraced rice-fields across the river, behind the venue, as a multi-levelled natural stage, through which the Kamoshika weaved and the marching band played, looking amazing in their woven rice-straw costumes. Jisa and Basa crossed this idyllic scene by foot and truck, before Magomusume’s big frenzied Tokyo fashion scene entered from behind, circling the audience in promenade style, inviting everybody to dance.

The show featured a boisterous all-singing giant Akashobin, a rural train journey, an eight-metre cucumber being dropped from a great height and paraded overhead, a cheeky cucumber-loving Kappa, his dismemberment by wild animals, his bowl-shaped head spilling out water and irrigating the fields, and some gorgeous sit-down storytelling moments with elderly residents voicing the Grandparent puppets. Continue Reading →

Champion Website by Nuttify