Thank god for Bristol Puppetry Festival having the courage to programme the show by Dutch company Bot, as part of this year’s festival.
But the fact that I use the word “courage” here and that the company feel the need to put in their copy ‘get ready to let go of everything you think you know about puppetry’ is what infuriates me about puppetry in the UK. 
Too often the rich history of puppetry is given precedence over innovation. And we suffer for it, because audiences perceive it as a traditional art form with a set of rules to adhere to. 
Puppetry is so much more than that for me – there are no rules and no boundaries. It can be punk, counter-cultural, politically outrageous, anything! But too often it is conservative, safe and narrow in its outlook.
It feels like a closed shop and it upsets me that there are lots of young talented puppeteers and makers who don’t get a look in. Venues say they don’t have an audience – maybe they are right – because we’re making work that is too narrow in outlook and conventional in form and has lost relevance.

There are many questions flying around my head:
What makes you a master in your field?
Where's the stamp of approval for puppetry expertise and what does that “expertise” look like?
Who can you learn from?
Who's listening to the new makers?
How is diversity, in all its forms, being addressed?
If "anyone can do it" how do we support and sustain elite and advanced practice? 
Do you have to have a beard to be a master?

These may be the issues that you want to address (whether you agree or disagree with me) or it may be something else entirely that is keeping you awake at night. Whatever it is, this event is a space for you to work on the issues and questions that you are passionate about. In Open Space the participants set the agenda, so bring your gripes and triumphs; your ideas and dreams. Come on. The puppets need you.

Please come and join the conversation at this FREE Devoted & Disgruntled Open Space event facilitated by Improbable, hosted by Little Angel Theatre for Suspense Festival 2015, as part of “Old Masters, New Makers” – a celebration of puppet masters past, present and future.


Booking for this event has now closed.