A few weeks ago, Puppet Place CEO and Executive Producer, Rachel McNally, headed to East Yorkshire to sample the many delights of the region’s foremost celebration of puppetry, ‘Beverley Puppet Festival’. With over 30 companies across four venues and on the streets of the historic market town, the festival presented a vast array of puppet performances, with styles and techniques to delight adults and children alike.
Here’s what Rachel made of it all…
For me Beverley is a city of sunshine, narrow streets, flowers, puppetry and old friends. My glasses are most definitely rose-tinted and this is largely down to the atmosphere and character of Beverley Puppet Festival. For those of you who don’t know it, I strongly recommend it.
Around every corner you will find a carefully considered puppetry moment; it might be a curious giraffe, ethereal clouds and their spirits floating above your head or a Punch & Judy show. All ages young and old are clearly entranced and delighted by the invasion of these unusual characters and creatures. The festival hub, in the grounds of an old friary, is crammed full of performance tents, puppets and people having a great time.
And so on to the shows! Highlights for me were ‘The Enormous Turnip’ by One Moment In Time, a storytelling show for children, their families and friends featuring feisty puppets and fantastic music. The visual aesthetic was heart-warming with some lovely surprises. The performers were skilled at engaging their audience with gentle humour and lots of participation that rendered us all into willing, giggling accomplices.
For older audiences, Silent Tide’s ‘The Adventures of Curious Ganz’ was a richly layered puppetry show with a sublime take on Elizabeth I and an absolute relish of natural curiosity and scientific discovery. The performance left me feeling more curious and hopeful about the world. Lempen Puppet Theatre’s ‘Cardboard Carnival’ took inspiration from Saint-Saens’ ‘The Carnival of Animals’ to conjure up a wonderful menagerie of creatures. As all my favourite moments would also involve spoilers, I’m just going to say, go see the show and we can compare afterwards!
Other shows and companies I could wax lyrical about include Professor Clive Chandler’s Punch & Judy, Noisy Oyster, Judith Hope’s ‘The Cloud Travellers’ and ‘Spaced’ by Strangeface. I certainly did not see everything at the festival and was sad to miss Tam Tam’s ‘Rusty Nails & Other Heroes’, so I will be back next time to continue my exploration of Beverley Puppet Festival.
Review by Rachel McNally
Executive Producer, Puppet Place
July 2018 saw the fifth edition of the biennial Beverley Puppet Festival. Read more about this year’s festival in our interview with Co-Artistic Director, Kerrin Tatman here.
To find out more about this event and to stay up-to-date with news regarding forthcoming festivals, visit the website: https://www.beverleypuppetfestival.com, and connect to their Facebook, Instagram and Twitter news feeds.