UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
Over the last several years we have had the enormous privilege of creating puppetry workshops for the Petrie Museum, inspired by the museum's collections, including its incredible ancient papyri collection. Here are a few images from the workshops.
A play inspired by Borges' Short Story, The Library of Babel, blindness, arthritis and Alistair Reid.
Performed October 2014 at the Wigtown Book Festival
Towards the end of 2013, the lovely Adrian Turpin, Director of the Wigtown Book Festival, approached me about working with a Scottish writer to create a play about bookshops. A few months later, I got a phone call from Adrian. 'Have you read "The Library of Babel"?' he asked. Turns out much of Borges' personal effects were donated to the Special Collections Department of the library at the University of Virginia, my alma mater (including this incredible drawing by Borges, here), and he had lectured at the university, so any English major was bound to have been fairly well immersed in his work. As with Shakespeare: The Puppet Show, the coincidences ran throughout this amazing experience: my director, Jessica Fox, ended up seated at a dinner in Garlieston, Scotland, next to Alistair Reid, the Scottish poet and dear friend and esteemed translator of Borges. Thus began my incredible, magical, and far-too-short friendship with Alistair, who sat with me for hours over the the course of a few gorgeous, midge-free Scotland summer days and talked about Borges, reality, mirrors, death, poetry, perspective, labyrinths and stories about his days, unconnected with Borges but utterly fascinating, at The New Yorker. The story I was writing became as much about Alistair and Borges' relationships with his translators and with his impending blindness as it was about La Ciudad, his neighborhood bookshop, or his short stories. And it became, ultimately and perhaps inevitably, about me, about all of us, about irony, and about the ultimate irony, that to know life is to know that it must end in death. And that that must be okay.
To Play's The Thing (formerly The Puppet Story) was thrilled and honoured to have been chosen by the Puppet Centre and the Victoria and Albert Museum to create a new puppet show as part of the V&A's Shakespeare Festival celebrating the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth.
Made possible through generous grants from Arts Council England's Grants for the Arts program, the Golsoncott Foundation, and the generosity of friends, family and other folks (see below for our list of heroes), ‘Shakespeare: The Puppet Show’ is a musical extravaganza weaving the Bard's spellbinding words and characters into a magical and riotous new play for children of all ages.
We recreating puppets from the V&A collection, and inventing several new puppets, as well, to tell the story a group of rogue puppets in the V&A storage facilities who yearn to break out of the storage vaults by gaining a part in an upcoming Shakespeare production happening at the museum. Meet a few members of our motley crew below, and see our Portfolio pages to see photos from the production.
The Martinek Giant
I am the Martinek Giant, and I am sad because my history is unknown. I want more than anything to be cast in the V&A Shakespeare play that we've all been hearing about. "To thine own self be true," Shakespeare's character Polonius says, but how can I be true to myself, and pick the character in Shakespeare who best represents me, if I don't know who I am? I don't have any information on what parts I used to play, and while I look a bit like, well, let's face it, a monster, I just don't feel like a monster. Come help me discover who I might be....
Bam bam! Smash! Crash! Bam! Did you hear that? That's me, SMASHING my way to the top of the audition tree. I am going to be the lead in this Shakespeare play, you hear? BAM! Nothing, but nothing, is going to get in my way...
Bones... in disguise!
I am a skeleton from the famous Tiller Clowes puppet troupe, and I am so fantastic, I was chosen from amongst all the puppets in V&A storage to be displayed in the museum's Theatre & Performance collection, up on the 3rd floor of the V&A. It's great, except I never get to move around, so I've come down to storage to see what all the hullabaloo is about this rumoured Shakespeare puppet situation. Currently I am trying on costumes to wear for my audition...
Scaramouche (as the Witches of Macbeth)
Where are my two sisters? I feel like a disembodied head - wait, I AM a disembodied head! Allow me to introduce myself: I am the third (and most important, of course!) head to three headed puppet, called a Scaramouche, and together we are the "Weird Sisters" - that is, the three Witches of Macbeth. Mwah ha ha ha ha ha ha! Be afraid, be very afraid....