An iron man, giant birds, a diabolical Mr Punch, a treasured maiden and one of the talents behind the workings of the National Theatre’s War Horse came together with guests from across the city to officially launch Nottingham’s first-ever puppet festival.
Unveiling the jam-packed programme, the occasion marks the countdown to the four-day event taking place from March 22 to 25 at venues across Nottingham, which celebrates the artistry of puppets and puppetry along with the communities that inspire the stories they tell.
Nottingham Puppet Festival has come about through a partnership between Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, City Arts and Nottingham Trent University and made possible thanks to funding from Arts Council England and additional support from Nottingham City Council, Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature and Midlands3Cities.
Guests were treated to a taste of what will be on during the festival, when puppetry of every kind will be found in all corners of the city.
Local, national and international artists, both upcoming and old-hands, will be bringing their talents and demonstrating their skills at locations across the city including the National Videogames Arcade, Nottingham Lakeside Arts, Broadway Cinema, Dance4 and Malt Cross Caves as well as the partner venues.
David Longford, creative learning manager at the Theatre Royal, said: “Puppets are so good at telling stories in a way that reality can’t – from the most basic to the most intricate.
“One example of just what puppetry can do is War Horse.
“The production’s appearance at the Royal Concert Hall was the impetus to do something really special for the city and the communities we serve.
“We want this festival to be for everyone and we hope the variety of performances, talks and workshops combined with the free drop-in and street-based events achieves this.”
The mix of shows includes the multi award-winning National Theatre production of War Horse, late-night puppet cabaret, political satire, as well as the retelling of classic stories, and family fun will run together with talks and workshops for both aspiring puppeteers and professional practitioners.
Jamie Anderson, son of Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson, Spitting Image’s Pete Sinclair, Philip Pope and Steve Nallon, and Brian Herring who has worked on the latest Star Wars films, will be amongst those talking about the artform of puppetry and the many different roles it has to play.
Matthew Forbes, resident puppetry director for War Horse and director of The Diabolical Mr Punch for the festival, said: “Over the past few years puppetry has become more and more popular.
“An artform that was perhaps only thought as for children is now regularly being called upon in high profile, award winning theatre, TV, and film projects and beyond.
“Nottingham Puppet Festival will be a fantastic celebration of the craft and dedication that goes into creating puppetry.”
From the Friday to Sunday of the event, the Old Market Square will become a pop-up puppet village morning until night, with a medley of free street theatre, shows, workshops and music and plenty more spectacular sights and sounds.
The festival will round off on the Sunday with a vibrant puppet parade, featuring characters of every shape and size, live music, special guests, members of the public and a few surprises thrown in along the way.
In the weeks leading up to the main festival event the team will be out and about around Nottingham with schools and community groups introducing them to the delights and craftsmanship of the puppets and the artform of puppetry.
Festival information and booking for tickets will all be available at www.nottinghampuppetfestival.co.uk where there is also a sign-up to the e-newsletter.
Follow @NottmPuppetFest on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see the story unfold and share your stories with the hashtag #AyUpPuppet.