Anna is a freelance theatre producer/director and co-artistic director of Little Room Productions. She is also Manager of Smoking Puppet Cabaret, the late night spot for a darker, crazier and saucier blend of puppetry that can be enjoyed with your favourite tipple after the main performances. She took a moment to tells us what punters could expect from this festival’s smoking hot line-up.
Can you tell me a bit about the Smoking Puppet Cabaret? How did it get started? How did you get involved in puppetry? What’s the appeal?
The Smoking Puppet Cabaret began during the Bristol Festival of Puppetry in 2011. The first curator was Tobi Poster and he worked with a group of local artists including Matthew Whittle, Chris Collier, Cori Bona and Becca Rose (who took it on in 2013). Since then it has become and event in its own right with regular outings at the Wardrobe Theatre and Shamabala Festival. If you look in the back of the programme you will see we’re starting a long term collaboration with the Wardrobe Theatre. I myself became involved when I acted as Artist Liaison at the last festival and helped the cabaret set up each night where I became completely hooked. Since then I have traveled with them to Shambala (2014) and have helped out at number of shows over the last two years.
Can you tell me a little bit about the performances that you will be presenting at BFP15?
We have a huge range of acts coming to the cabaret this year, from slapstick tabletop puppetry to a musical marionette Beatles Tribute act! A piece I am very excited about is the Marionette String Circus by String Theatre on Sunday 30th. Using Victorian trick marionettes, the company creates a circus of dexterous grasshoppers, wasps and dragonflies which will be utterly enchanting. I also can’t wait to see Finger and Thumb Theatre perform The Magician’s Hat, a shadow puppetry piece using the ‘finger and thumb’ style of puppetry. I’ve seen Drew perform before but the range of characters he can create with simple hand movements will never cease to amaze me. Actually, the initial line up has just been announced here and here.
What’s new, exciting or innovative about the cabaret this year? What do you hope it will bring to audiences at BFP15?
This year we have our very own in house SPC crew showing some of their newest pieces including Smoking Puppet Speed Dating and Charades which I’m really looking forward to. A good reason to come to the cabaret is it is free! It starts after everything else in the festival has finished and is part of our Free Programme making it accessible across the board. Also it is quite a big cabaret this time round and we have artists coming from places like Liverpool and even as far as Spain!
Interview by Emma Windsor