An Interview with Emma Williams, BFP+ Professional Programme Curator

Emma Williams works as a theatre director, collaborating with writers, designers and performers to create work that reflects the tragic and hysterical world that creative people inhabit.  We spoke to her about her love for the theatre and her forthcoming experiments in puppetry.

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Can you tell me a bit about yourself?  How did you get involved in puppetry?  What’s the appeal?

I live in Bristol. I have been working as a theatre Director for twenty years.   My main creative focus has been to combine highly skilled craft with interesting theatrical concepts. My ambition – to deliver quality theatrical experiences to as broad an audience as is possible.  I started directing puppets fifteen years ago. I loved it and It suits my nature, obsessive odd.   As a theatrical language puppetry has the potential to deliver extraordinary worlds. It can access a visually disturbing environment where adult children battle with some of the cruellest elements of human nature, alternatively it can deliver an astonishingly bright world that celebrates the very act of living.

Can you tell me a little bit about the lab ‘Experiments in Puppetry’ that you will be presenting at BFP15?

The lab is a brand new and exciting initiative. We have gathered together five established artists from various backgrounds and we are putting them together in a room with some questions, tea and some materials.  They will play, make and reflect on a career in performance. Some of the subjects explored will be: How they got to where they are now; How to sustain their work and develop it: What they know professionally and personal about working long-term in the arts and what they don’t know but wish they had asked a long time ago.

The five artist are musician, composer and theatre maker Kid Carpet; Chris Pirie, Artistic director of Green Ginger; Dik Downey, company director and founder of Pickled Image; Lucinka Eisler’ joint artistic director of Inspector Sands and Laura Cubitt’  puppeteer and movement assistant at National Theatre and solo performer in Above Me the Wide Blue Sky for Young Vic/Fevered sleep.

After two days in a room the artist will present the labs findings at the Brewery at 6.30 on Friday 4th September.  IT COULD BE ANYTHING but with this diverse and talented group of creatives it will be a fascinating to see what they discover. The evening will conclude with a more traditional discussion where the five artists will answer questions from the audience about their own work.

What’s new, exciting or innovative about this lab? What do you hope it will bring to festival-goers at BFP15?

To get this group together to explore and create is in itself exciting.  Each member of the lab has made work in his or her career that genuinely resonated with an audience.  Rather than just discussing this the lab offers the audience an opportunity to see more of how these artists think and make. My hope for the lab is that it will provide support and stimulate creative thinking for both the audience and the artists involved in the experiment.  It’s new, the outcome could be rough, risky, experimental, hysterical, but it brings a whole new perspective to the BFP+ programme.

Interview by Emma Windsor


The BFP+ Professional programme continues all next week at BFP15 with networking clubs, professional breakfasts, workshops and masterclasses from practitioners for practitioners.  The outcome of ‘Experiments in Puppetry‘ will be presented to an audience at the Brewery Theatre on Fri 04 Sept.  For more information, see the Bristol Festival of Puppetry website.


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