Now in its ninth year, manipulate Visual Theatre Festival, an innovative international festival of visual theatre and film presented by Puppet Animation Scotland, returns in January 2016 to cheer up that dreich post- Yule time of year. Presented in venues across Scotland and England, it features a range of premieres and productions from across the globe a with a particularly strong contingent of Scottish work as well as welcoming new partner venues Little Angel Theatre, London and Dance Base, Edinburgh.
At the launch held at its Edinburgh home of the Traverse theatre, manipulate Artistic Director Simon Hart gave a speech with all the enticements of the coming year’s programme whose delights are laid out in the fabulous programme that is a work of art in itself.
Guests were treated to a 10 minute taster from Scottish puppeteer Shane Connelly of Glasgow based Sokobauno Theatre who performed sleep crawling. Though the piece is not part of manipulate there were enough treats to whet the appetite for the February Festival.
In 2016, manipulate welcomes new acts this year including Blind Summit, who won a Fringe First for their show Citizen Puppet, bringing its internationally-acclaimed, multi award-winning production The Table. Known to millions through the giant puppets the company created and operated during Olympics Opening Ceremony, Blind Summit aims to reinvent puppetry for new, modern adult audiences. Other newcomers to include Quebec-based company Théâtre Incliné with their UK premiere of Threads. Combining traditional puppetry with object manipulation, acting and live music from an onstage violinist, this piece is based on The Tale of the Mountain-Woman and inspired by the stories of immigrant women from across the world.
Birdheart, an intimate chamber piece about transformation, loneliness, and the urge to fly will have its European premiere with a production created manipulate first-timers, Tony-nominated Julian Crouch & multi-talented musician and performer Saskia Lane. This is the first project as duo puppeteers for these world-renowned artists.
Favourites from past years return to the festival being opened by Austrian editta braun company with their UK premiere of Close Up, the third part in a trilogy. Formed in 2006, Paper Doll Militia return with their world premiere of LoopsEnd that melds visuals, animation, shadow, slide projections with the performers’ vibrant and virtuosic physicality in a stunningly choreographed aerial theatre piece. Closing manipulate 2016 with Gobo Digital Glossary will be St Petersburg-based AKHE, who presented Mr. Carmen in 2015.
manipulate 2016 continues its commitment to nurturing the development of new Scottish work with presentations from Al Seed & Judith Milligan; Laura Cameron-Lewis & Shona Reppe. Scotland’s FAUX Theatre’s production Torn, a piece of solo visual theatre combining object theatre, kinetic art, and an original live score that first appeared at manipulate in 2014 and toured both locally and internationally throughout 2015. It looks at ideas of femininity and what it means to be a woman as does the piece about the trial of Joan of Arc Keep the Cross High from emerging artist Laura Wooff and Winnie Hopper from recent graduates Jenny Lyn & Andrew Simpson. Scottish artist, actor and musician Sita Pieraccini makes her manipulate debut with Bird, a tale of friendship, courage and magic set in a post-apocalyptic world created through clowning and mime combined with work from Foley collaborator, David Pollock.
Building on the growth and success of the festival’s regular free Snapshots sessions which nurture the creation of Scottish work, manipulate 2016 will contain no fewer than eight productions from artists based in Scotland, amounting to more than a third of the programme. Prominent among these productions is Play Look Paint Shoot, an evening of animated films and discussion with Scottish BAFTA-nominated animator Ross Hogg, who will present some of his own work alongside films that have inspired him and Macbeth: Without Words, from emerging Cypriot-Scottish company Ludens Ensemble, which uses video-mapping projections, animation, and a live DJ in an imaginative retelling of the Scottish play.
In addition to providing a platform for Scottish work in development, manipulate 2016 will also see the first instance of the Emergent Theatre Conference. Featuring ten ambitious emerging theatre-makers from across Europe, this two-day conference will focus on the challenges facing emerging artists face today as they strive to create work and establish themselves professionally. Each artist will present a three minute creative response to these issues in a public event on the second day of the conference, followed by a Q&A with the artists involved, and the presentation of the future plans of this fledgling European collective.
For the first time, the festival will be hosting the three Public Choice Award programmes of the 2016 British Animation Awards, a biennial celebration of the best contemporary animation produced in the UK over the preceding 18 months. Audiences will be able to vote for their favourite film at each screening, without needing to attend all three in order to be able to vote –although for those who do want to attend every screening, a special British Animation Awards screenings pass (£20) will be on sale.
Following on from the success of the performances passes in 2015, 2016 will also see the introduction of a Full Festival Pass, in which all manipulate 2016 performances and screenings are included.
So once the decorations are back in their box, the cards are off to the recycling and the tree has had the last of its needles hoovered up, relax in the knowledge that some visual thrills from manipulate 2016 are just around the corner to sparkle up a dark winter week!
manipulate Venue Dates:
The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen: 29 January – 31 January 2016
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh: 31 January – 6 February 2016
Dance Base, Edinburgh: 31 January – 5 February 2016
Norwich Puppet Theatre: 5 February – 6 February 2016
Little Angel Theatre: 13 February 2016
Traverse 1 Performances: £16.50/13.50/8.50; Traverse 2 Performances: £13.50/10.50/8.50
Screenings: £8.50; BAA Screenings Pass: £20
3 Show Pass: £42
Full Festival Pass: £142.50
0131 228 1404 www.traverse.co.uk
Dance Base, Edinburgh
Individual Masterclass: £125; Both Masterclasses: £210
0131 225 5525 www.dancebase.co.uk
The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
01224 641122 www.boxofficeaberdeen.com
Norwich Puppet Theatre
01603 629921 www.puppettheatre.co.uk
Little Angel Theatre, London
020 7226 1787 www.littleangeltheatre.com
Friday 29 January – Saturday 6 February 2016 Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh