Snuff Puppet Shows

Snuff Puppets Europe Tour Summer 2017

snuff euro tour map 2017

We are touring Europe with three works. In Germany we created Die Hand/La Main, a giant puppet spectacle with refugees and two brass bands; Kinshasa’s Fanfare Masolo! and Wuppertal’s Belakongo! Everybody’s Human Body Parts are also touring all over Britain, Germany, Austria and Hungary. A Snuff Skool puppeteering workshop will be held in Ludwigshafen. Our Artistic Director, Andy Freer, will deliver a public lecture in Stuttgart.

TOUR DATES

Die Hand/La Main – previews
19-20 May:  (Wuppertal, Germany)
 * 4.30pm Friday 19 May: Elberfeld: Parade from neumarkt, 5pm at Church Sq. -> more info

* 12pm Saturday 20 May: Barmen: parade from old market, 12:30pm siblings-Scholl-Platz

Die Hand/La Main – premiere
24-27 May: Kirchentag (Berlin, Germany)
*  24 Mai, 20 Uhr: Hauptbühne des Evangelischen Kirchentages 2017, vorm Reichstag Berlin
*  25 Mai, ab 14:30 Uhr: auf dem Gelände der Messe Berlin
*  26 Mai, 17 Uhr: Zionskirche Berlin
*  27 Mai, von 12:30: Tempodrom Berlin

Giant Puppets of Kinshasa / Human Body Parts
1-5 June: Moers Festival (Moers, Germany)

Human Body Parts
18 June: Stamp Festival (Hamburg, Germany)
* Sunday 11am: parade

Human Body Parts
24-25 June: Greenwich+Docklands International Festival (London, UK)
Cutty Sark Gardens, 
* Saturday: 1.50pm, 3.40pm, 7.15pm
* Sunday: 12.45pm, 2.30pm, 6pm

Human Body Parts
4-9 July: Tollwood Summer Festival (Munich, Germany)
Festival Ground, Olympiapark Süd
* Tuesday 4 July: 5pm, 7pm, 9pm
* Wednesday 5 July: 5pm, 7pm, 9pm
* Thursday 6 July: 5pm, 7pm, 9pm
* Friday 7 July: 5pm, 7pm, 9pm
* Saturday 8 July: 4pm, 6pm, 7.30pm
* Sunday 9 July: 3pm, 5pm, 8pm

Human Body Parts
11-16 July: Summer Festival of CulturesStuttgart (Germany)
*  Tuesday 11 July: 7.30pm Marketpl, Stuttgart
* Saturday 15th July: late-afternoon/early evening, Marketpl,  Stuttgart
* Sunday 16th July: mid-afternoon, Marketpl, Stuttgart

Lecture: ‘VERY BIG and very very very small
* Wednesday 19 July:  8.30pm. TICKETS: FITZ! Zentrum für Figurentheater (Stuttgart, Germany)

Human Body Parts
21-22 July: Internationales Straßentheaterfestival (Ludwigshafen, Germany)
* Friday 21 July: 3pm, 5.15pm, 9pm, Boulevard der Träume II
* Saturday 22 July: 3pm, 5.15pm, 9pm, Boulevard der Träume II

Snuff Skool
23 July: Internationales Straßentheaterfestival (Ludwigshafen, Germany)
* 10am, Städtische Musikschule. 5pm workshop public roaming, Boulevard der Träume II

Human Body Parts
27-29 July: Olala Festival (Lienz, Austria)
* Thursday 27 July: 6pm, Matrei
* Friday 28 July: 11.30am and 4.30pm,  Fußgängerzone
* Friday 28 July: 9.45pm Innichen (Italy)
* Saturday 29 July: 12pm, Mittagsparade, Beginn Stadtapotheke
* Saturday 29 July: 3.30pm and 5pm, Fußgängerzone

Human Body Parts
10-15 August: Sziget (Budapest, Hungary)
* Shows 4.30 pm,5.30 pm and 7pm daily. Except for TUESDAY’S shows at 3, 4 and 5pm.
Near the ‘Travelling Funfair’ (no. 62 on festival map)

 

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body, and the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund. Snuff Puppets is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.

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Giant Puppets of Kinshasa

This past March, Snuff Puppets worked in Africa for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kinshasa in the suburb of Masina, living and working at a cultural centre, Espace Masolo. The centre runs art and education programs for street children, orphans, ex-child soldiers and adults. The space houses a sewing and tailoring school and is the home to Fanfare Masolo, an exceptional brass band made up of young adult musicians who have grown up at the space over the last twelve years learning music and other skills.

We arrived expecting just to meet our fellow artists and performers, and maybe make one or two puppets with a very small presentation at the end. Instead, overwhelmed by enthusiasm to participate and learn, we ended up making six giant puppets that paraded on the main street with more than thirty participants, occupied neighbours front yards and danced all the while to a twenty-piece brass band. Initially, the aforementioned performance had to be postponed because exactly as we were to begin, the clouds opened and a downpour turned our stage into a muddy river. Plans changed to use the small courtyard of Espace Masolo as our stage but in true Congolese spirit, the finale happened back out on the road now made of vast pools of water, mud and rocks. Despite the conditions a beautiful dancing carnival erupted on Espace Masolo’s street and everyone was truly surprised and enchanted.

Leading up to this presentation, over eight days we built puppets with locally sourced materials and for the first time ever ran a workshop without electricity, barring the last night when we had a generator to heat up the glue guns and power the light. The puppets were all hand stitched together; the sewing machines were hand powered.

The learning curve was great and wild for both the participants and us. For Stéphane and me, we felt happily challenged to work in this way, without electricity and sometimes without water, on a fraction of a usual budget. For the participants, the collaborative workshop and giant puppet construction was a whole new learning experience. Despite challenges, we were grateful to meet so many amazing and talented people working together to perform a beautifully pure, raw and energetic performance of an act that we’d just made the day before and never fully rehearsed.

In our time at Espace Masolo we built Mamiwata, Satonge, Mengumengu, Kimakaka and Nguvbu (respectively a mermaid, a half man, a human/cat transformation, a person with their head on their stomach, a ‘something’, the white one with three eyes and a Hippopotamus). The puppets are drying out for now but will soon be traveling to Germany appearing with Fanfare Masolo and our Human Body Parts at festivals in Berlin and Moers.

This project would not have been possible without the invitation and support of Stefanie Oberhoff and Freundeskreis. Steffi saw the first brass instruments donated to Espace Masolo and has been deeply involved there with many projects over the years. She has watched and worked to make happen huge growth, great international exchange and the power of culture and art to transform lives. There is now a whole new generation of survivor children learning brass music, theatre, art, metal work, tailoring, school subjects and life skills.

I knew nothing of the DRC before I travelled there. I only knew of the Australian Government travel warnings of a ‘do not travel’ country and the monstrous history of the Belgian colonial empire, King Leopold the 2nd of Belgium and the ensuing genocide. Before arriving, I discovered that the DRC is one of the most, if not the most devastated country in the world as a result of colonialism. After the Belgian horror show, the slave trade, then independence and 30 years of dictators corrupting an already brutalised people, it is no wonder the country faces so many challenges.

Experiencing first hand what it means to live in the capital city of the second biggest country in Africa meant understanding the stark contradictions inherent in a country with the richest of natural resources on the planet and the lowest average income in the world according to the World Bank, with most people living on just 1 dollar a day: where there’s no government services and still wealthy countries and businesses regularly steal precious minerals for electronics like our iPhones. The country’s past can help understand why the nation suffers such devastation to this day. A terrible history that has resulted with a population traumatised from generations of European brutality with no reparations and no real global understanding or response to a horrendous human disaster.

Our journey has just begun in the DRC and our hopes and aspirations are high. Invigorated and inspired we’re planning to return to Espace Masolo to continue running workshops and create more giant puppets, music and art in collaboration with the kids, people and energy of Kinshasa, Congo.

Just two last thoughts to finish. First, the local slang for ‘cool’ is ‘normal’ so when everything is ok, good or fine, it’s ‘normal’, quite a departure from our version of mundane normalcy!

Finally, while visiting the orphanage that sends some of the kids off each day to Espace Masolo, we were struck by the words of Papa Api Kapinga, the old man who ran the home. He said, ’Politics pulls everyone apart, culture brings everyone together.’ For this elderly gentleman, who has given his life to saving others, to be so right in his description of humanity filled me with renewed faith in the fact that culture can truly save the world.

Andy Freer

View photos from the performance on our facebook page.

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Snuff Puppets are going to Africa!

fanfafre-masolo1

Snuff Puppets will tour to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in March to create a giant puppet spectacle with Congolese youth brass band Fanfare Masolo. The spectacle will be performed in front of the Brandenburg Gate at Berlin’s Kirchentag Festival in May.

Partners + Supporters: Stefanie Oberhoff and Freundeskreis, Espace Masolo, Cultural Council of the City of Stuttgart, Goethe-Institut Munich, Goethe-Institut Kinshasa, Brot für die Welt, Kulturamt der Stadt Stuttgart and Fachbereich Jugend & Freizeit der Stadt Wuppertal.

Image: Sella Oneko

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Snuff Puppets at Open House Melbourne

Snuff Puppets welcome you into their home for Open House Melbourne 2016

Open House Melbourne 2016 Snuff Puppets Studio Image by Theresa Harrison

Snuff Puppets will open the doors of their workshop, which holds in excess of 500 giant Snuff Puppets. Be introduced to some of the giant puppets created and stored in the Drill Hall and hear about the radical, experimental history and philosophy of Footscray’s Snuff Puppets. Brave visitors will be given the chance to get inside some of our giant puppets and practice puppeteering skills under supervision. Vagabond Coffee will be serving delicious hot drinks and baked goods out of their lovingly restored 1976 vintage caravan.

Footscray Drill Hall was built in 1913 to facilitate compulsory military training for men and boys, 12 to 26 years old. Dozens of Footscray locals volunteered at the Drill Hall and these men became E company, one of the first companies sent into battle in WW1. Soon they would find themselves in one of Australia’s bloodiest battles at Gallipoli. Most of the company of 250 did not return and Footscray became a city in mourning. Today the Footscray Drill Hall is an important arts space for the inner west, with two vibrant companies in residence, Snuff Puppets and Women’s Circus.

The Drill Hall, 395 Barkly St, Footscray VIC 3011
Saturday 30 July
Tours at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm
FREE

BOOK NOW

VagabondBusiness Card Front 75x50 Coffee will be serving delicious hot drinks and baked goods out of their lovingly restored 1976 vintage caravan. On the menu you will find their fine coffee next to some beautiful tea and hot chocolate as well as pastries, cookies, muffins and tasty savoury treats.

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Welcome to Snuff Skool

Hong Kong WorkshopA unique chance to shed your everyday self and become a Snuff Puppet!

Join us in our Footscray home, the Drill Hall, and learn the Snuff way: improvisational, spontaneous and always with the freedom to play. If you’re a hardcore Snuff-phile this is your chance to get into a Snuff Puppet and venture out in to the world, creating your own Snuff brand of puppet/audience collisions. Find out more about Snuff Skool.

Snuff Puppets’ Snuff Skool is proud to be a part of Big West Festival 2015 – the leading community-based, contemporary arts festival in Melbourne’s West.

Saturday 21 & 28 November 9am to 5pm
The Drill Hall, 395 Barkly St, Footscray, 3011

$35 Full $25 Concession For ages 14+

Tickets include a full-day workshop, catered lunch from Plough Hotel and participation in a street roaming performance.

Add me to the waiting list

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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 →

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Donna Walker-Kuhne with Arts West

Arts West invites you to a practical workshop on developing new strategies to engage, grow and retain audiences with audience engagement expert, Donna Walker-Kuhne.

Join Arts West organisations and Donna Walker-Kuhne in an intensive three-hour workshop expanding on a Creative Victoria’s Expert Arts seminar. Walker-Kuhne will focus on specific audience engagement strategies to engage local and diverse audiences and communities. Encouraged to share their own audience engagement situations and challenges, workshop participants will create an outline and present it to the group with feedback and input from Walker-Kuhne.
WORKSHOP
Date Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Time 10am – 1pm
Venue FCAC Jack Kennedy Room
Address 45 Moreland Street, Footscray
Cost $100.00 (maximum 20 places available)
Click here to register

Continue Reading →

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A Note From Nick, from Urada, Japan

A first dispatch from Nick Wilson at our Australia House Residency for Echigo-Tsumari:

We are now at the half-way mark of our People’s Puppet Project in Urada and our residency at Australia House, Echigo-Tsumari. One week into the workshop and we have the makings of six giant puppets, a wealth of narrative ideas and imagery, a unique and beautiful mix of sounds and musical ideas, and a diverse and talented team of residents who are getting really excited about their performance next week.

Through discussions with the community we decided on six puppet characters to begin work on: Jisa and Basa (Urada grandparents), Magomusume (their granddaughter, a fashionable Tokyo student), a Kamoshka (the amazing-looking Japanese serow), an Akashobin (the iconic Ruddy Kingfisher), and a Kappa (a troublesome mythical water sprite).

We’ve explored the local environment with our imaginations captured by this climate of such extreme seasons, intrigued by the details of small-town culture in an ageing and dwindling population and moved by the warmth and generosity of residents as we dove head-first into folk-tales and old family homes. Some local stories have been put on as annual school plays here since the old folks were students themselves. The Kappa is shadowing us in silence, our sixth member. Continue Reading →

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Women’s Circus Annual Fundraiser

Our friends at Women’s Circus are running a fundraising auction with heaps of really cool stuff. You can get a ticket to our upcoming Snuff Skool at our Footscray Drill Hall and support our awesome neighbours.

Founded in 1991, Women’s Circus is Australia’s first women’s-only circus and performance organisation. Over the years, thousands of women have trained, performed, worked and played at Women’s Circus. Their involvement has helped shape the culture, vision and artistic outcomes of this organisation and Women’s Circus has helped create positive and meaningful change for these women and their communities. www.womenscircus.org.au

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