An entire festival of puppets may seem a little overboard for some. But rest assured, Moving Parts – Newcastle’s first Puppetry Festival, which runs for six days between 27th March and 1st April – has a whole host of events sure to please even the harshest of critics.
Focusing on puppetry, mask and object manipulation, the packed schedule spans four venues and gives opportunities to adults, teenagers, emerging artists and professional practitioners to experience productions, take part in performance master-classes with leading industry figures and even attend a week-long puppet-making residency course. The bill boasts a huge variety of events, including (but not limited to) three large-scale productions at Northern Stage, cabaret and fringe shows at Cobalt Studios, four diverse performance workshops at Space Six and an education project with design and drama students from Newcastle College.
Opening night features Boris & Sergey’s Vaudevillian Adventure at Cobalt Studios – the award-winning show that is high on critical acclaim and even higher on thrills. Featuring Japanese Bunraku puppetry and character comedy intended for more adventurous audiences, Flabbergast Theatre have taken their titular characters on tour around the world for over five years, spreading anarchy, mirth and molestation wherever they go. The company promise that you’ll love, hate and pity Boris and Sergey as they attempt to scam the general public. With this being just one of a wide variety of shows at Cobalt and Northern Stage, there’s plenty of opportunities to experience whatever style of theatre tickles your fancy.
Alongside the promotion of weird and wonderful shows, the education project is also part of the festival’s key motive – introducing the world of puppetry and object manipulation to a new audience in order to spark a new generation of puppeteers. To achieve this goal, local artist Alison McGowan of Puppetship CIC will work along with drama and design students from Newcastle College to create a short, original puppet show that utilises skills such as technical theatre, performance and sound. As well as lending young people a whole host of brand-new theatrical skills, it’s hoped that the week-long process will inspire some to delve further into the world of puppetry. This educational aspect is further emphasised with the inclusion of a packed programme of events for children running throughout the festival at Ouseburn Farm, including a number of shows and puppet-making workshops to entertain and stimulate your little Pinocchios in the run up to Easter.
There are also a number of competitions to enter: from puppetry and stop-motion animation to short films and automata (and who could forget the obligatory children’s colouring competition?), entrants have up until Wednesday 15th March to submit their work and full details are available on the festival’s website.
To top it all off, there’s even live music on the agenda. Newcastle trio Aether will be performing at Cobalt Studios on Wednesday 29th March, providing an evening that promises to be wrought with great tunes, stop-motion films and even an intriguing object manipulation open mic. The festival is set to close with a blowout party on 1st April, with Holy Moly & The Crackers topping the bill.