...from: "Henry, A Puppet Possessed", to "The Puppeteer". I think it is more accurate, and potentially more intriguing, and ultimately has more possibility. Any objections? Interested to hear your thoughts!
Here's The Scotsman Review (came out in print a while back but I didn't catch it - not available online, I don't really know why) - “Puppetry is important,” intones the puppeteering artist undertaking a masterclass before us, with a perhaps overly weighty sense of gravitas, “but I don’t want anyone to die.” He’s just informed us that anyone who has a fear of puppets – for such a thing exists – may take their chance to leave the room now. Only those who are fully committed to the serious business of puppetry must remain. Alongside him stand a male and a female apprentice, Stina and Wolfgang (Fiona Clift and Tom Espiner), both from Eastern Europe and clad all in black, including balaclavas. A
Ovid's Metamorphosis made me smile, Temoin's Feed made me laugh, and Grassmarket Project's "Where it hurts" made me cry. Brilliant, extraordinary, powerful - in fact it made everything else I've seen seem a bit pointless. Off to the Hebrides...
I've been flyering and you start to learn what captures people's imagination - "the story of a puppeteer", "a comedy about a puppeteer, comedy puppetry", "something to see at 3.30 in the King Dome today", "two for one today for limited tickets", "4 stars in The List today", "do you want my last flyer?", "Do you want to see a comedy about a puppeteer today?" etc. And then we hit on "grief and dying, control and manipulation" the flyers... flew.
The Fetch Wilson - Dublin card playing fight club - great story, great script and great performance! The Hit - Bunraku baby gangster puppet investigates "cognitive dissonance" in film noir style detective mystery. What's not to love? A Sockful of Custard - clever, funny, brilliant perfomances, messy like custard. The "dustbin song" is my favourite thing I've seen all year.
When the puppeteer notices his strings After the success of The Table, which was all about the puppet, Blind Summitt have turned their attention to the puppeteer Luke who, like artistic director and performer Mark Down, is reflecting on how his process reflects his life experience. Luke is battling with the aftermath of the death of his absent father and an ongoing conflict with his partner about having children - something that undermined previous relationships - and the puppet Henry, accompanied by bin-bags representing sadness and misery, emerges to hover over the artist, begging for release. The format - a pretend masterclass - allows Down to enjoy the caricature of the aging director: f
Mark Down, director of puppet theatre company Blind Summit, welcomes the audience to what he assures them will be a masterclass, not in puppetry, but in “object manipulation”. With the aid of two black-clad performers whose faces remain masked throughout, he intends to show us the beauty of his craft, to breathe life into the inanimate. There’s fun to be had watching Down parody the manner of ‘the director’, the master of his art, instructing his students to enter a deep ‘improvisational state’, but the show relies overly on his charisma in its fitfully entertaining first half and there’s a lot of repetitious business where the students dance about with shopping trolleys and daggers. Only ev
So we've had every star rating almost, and people write that it's the worst show they ever seen in their life, and that it's their best show of the festival. Some people have been bemused, and one person told me the structure unfolds perfectly "like the black plastic bin bags that the puppets are made of". Someone said they found it cynical and other people said on the contrary they were very moved by it. Nearly everyone said they want more puppetry. I guess that's good really. Better than the alternative anyway. 4 more shows to go!
Years ago I was in Edinburgh with a show that didn't go well. I wanted to change the show and no-one else wanted to and instead we hunkered down, told ourselves everyone who wasn't coming was wrong, and committed to desperate, manic, miserable flyer-ing. And we closed some shows. And we told ourselves the public was wrong. They didn't understand the show. Of course audiences can be different, and different audiences like different things, but I felt then as I feel now, what is the point of an audience at all if they are "wrong"? This experience is partly responsible for Blind Summit's policy that we respond to audience feedback and develop work in front of audiences, in collaboration with au
Blind Summit are known for innovative puppet work and this is certainly innovative, a departure from their usual work. Which involves puppets. The master puppeteer Luke Alexander (played by Mark Down) introduces the show by saying that there will be no puppets, that we will create the show together the show is created between us, the audience, our imagination and the objects and puppets and puppeteers. Except there won’t be any puppets… The fringe listing suggests that the primary story is one of death and dealing with bereavement, with a consideration of the difference between puppetry and acting as a secondary consideration. In practice it is a masterclass in puppetry with the story of ber
...in the show today. Because why? Because that's what middle aged male performers do when they get passionate about the work - they take off their shirts and throw them away. So Luke done that. Properly took it off and threw it away out of the way off the stage and went into a deep improvisational state. And we made the whole show in the masterclass in the audience's present. But it all needs to go further. The character needs to go further. The irony. And the beauty. 8 shows left.
Award winning puppetry company Blind Summit are breaking new ground this Edinburgh with a show that contains almost no traditional puppetry at all. Henry is an unusual departure for a company that has built a reputation for delivering beautiful, surprising and accomplished productions that revolve almost entirely around their bunraku-style Extreme Puppetry. Happily Henry proves that Blind Summit can deliver on new fronts, continue to reinvent itself and push forwards. The audience is effusively welcomed into the space as Artistic Director and performer Mark Down lays out the structure of the show in character as ‘Luke Alexander’ – we are the students in a masterclass that he, an established
"Being Alone" by celebrated Australian one woman monologue artist Janice Bruce McHeath (Fiona Clift) - at The Natural Food Kafe (NFK) - RATING: Highly nutritional. Special Award for amazingly cool and hilarious Kate Tempest poem. "Mistero Buffo" hardcore brilliant one man play performed by "simply outstanding" Julian Spooner at Underbelly - RATING: Awesomely awesomeI can go home now. "It's not a sprint" by Grace Chapman - very very cool performance of a very clever script that she wrote herself about running a marathon - best line "the pantomime horse is behind you" - is that a spoiler? RATING: The show will run and run "The Pin" - almost too much charm - from two boyish boys being charming
But a new beginning where I talk about everyone having organised their accommodation, or if not they can sleep here on the stage, "we'll burn some chairs, tell ghost stories, it'll be fun!" worked a treat. Still have a way to go. There's something about really going into the character. I want him to strip his top off at one point, clamber over the audience, have a nervous breakdown.
So we just added some new lines to the masterclass scenes: "I want to see my father's bag, it's my childhood Wolfgang, the bag is my childhood, I was raised by women Wolfgang, I was bullied at school, I need to see the bag Wolfgang, not you! That's the bag! THAT'S THE BAG!" Excited to see what happens...
This year, London based master puppeteers, Blind Summit, bring their UK première of Henry: A Puppet Possessed, that was produced in association with the Italian Cultural Centre in Pistoia, il Funaro, to the Fringe. Blind Summit is no stranger to Edinburgh, either at the Fringe or at Manipulate, where their trademark ‘extreme puppetry’ has garnered stars and awards galore with The Table and Citizen Puppet and their influence was wonderfully exerted in 2017 over Hijinx ‘s irreverent puppet tale, Meet Fred. Master Puppeteer Mark Down’s character paces the stage with a slight air of barely cloaked menace, inviting the audience to take their seats as part of a master class in 'puppetry possession
A manifesto of sorts for the power of puppetry Puppetry experts Blind Summit's new show at the Fringe is based on director Luke Alexander's attempts to connect with his dead father through his old belongings. With two students, he re-enacts a "masterclass" helping them to animate objects through improvisation, to make "objects in space tell stories". The thing is, director Luke Alexander is a fiction. So are his students, and so is the masterclass. Again and again the three-strong cast (Fiona Clift and Tom Espiner, led by Blind Summit AD Mark Down) puncture this egotistical setup. Through humour, bathos and clichéd use of Philip Glass music, the central emotional dynamic of a son grappling w