A Strange New Space: An Interview with Tessa Bide

asns-low-res-5Tessa Bide is a Bristol-based theatre maker with a theatre company under her name. The company specialises in making innovative, high-quality theatrical experiences for young audiences that inspire and excite but never patronise.  We caught up with her to find out more about her latest show, ‘A Strange New Space’ on at Tobacco Factory Theatres, 11am Sunday 03 September, as part of this year’s Bristol Festival of Puppetry 2017.


What is ‘A Strange New Space’ about and how did you come up with the idea?

The main character, Amira, is completely obsessed with space and dreams of becoming an Astronaut. One night, the bangs, whooshes and fizzes of her imagination explode right out of her dreams, becoming a deafening reality.   She must leave her hometown to go on an adventure, to find a safe space and Amira quickly packs her bag for the intergalactic trip she’s been waiting for.

Photography by Paul Blakemore

The original idea for ‘A Strange New Space’ came whilst in a dreamy fog at 5am one morning in bed when I should’ve been asleep. I had been thinking a lot about the refugee crisis and how I could use my skills to respond to it or help in any way and, having my routes in children’s theatre, I’d also wanted to have fun with a space-themed show for a while. I had the idea of using a space journey as a metaphor for a child refugee’s journey and it developed from there.  It’s a one woman show without words that melds physical theatre with puppetry and original music.

What can audiences expect from the performance?

At the end of every show I stay on stage and invite the audience to come and chat and I always find that a useful tool for gauging the success of the performance and what that audience got from it.   I’ve had a lot of the feedback from the adults was that they would watch it as an adult show.   Feedback from performances to children (aged 4 – 11) demonstrated they loved it too, so it’s fairly universal.

 Photography by Paul Blakemore

Other comments we received were “It’s clearly a show that comes with more than just to entertain. It makes me think of children in all different situations. Innocence and vulnerability.” and “I was most interested in the changing of locations and as to why she was traveling to all these places. I thought her change of mood from place to place was great and added to the intrigue as to what she was looking for.

Photography by Paul Blakemore

Over the tour we have several ‘relaxed performances’ which will see the show stripped back and performed in a way that is specifically accessible for children and young people with autism, learning disabilities and sensory and communication disorders AND their families.  To make sure you can enjoy our story to the fullest, we have created a few materials which might help you to understand and access the show before you arrive at the theatre.

What do you hope for ‘A Strange New Space’ at the Bristol Festival of Puppetry 2017?

This year, I’m hoping that ‘A Strange New Space’ will bring together new audiences – both young and old – through their love of puppetry. The show serves as a catalyst for conversation around the ongoing refugee crisis, whilst at the same time providing an “an excellent introduction to theatre for younger children” (Manchester’s Finest), so there’s something for everyone. I’m excited to be on the same line-up as some truly astounding talents from both the UK and abroad, I think the Bristol Festival of Puppetry team have excelled themselves this year!


Interview by Emma Windsor


Visit the Bristol Festival of Puppetry website to find out more and to book tickets for ‘A Strange New Space’ at Tobacco Factory Theatres at 11am on 03 Sept.  You can also see all our family events at Tobacco Factory Theatres and Watershed throughout the Festival (01 – 10 Sept) and browse our full Festival programme.

Stay up-to-date with all the latest BFP17 news and announcements via our NewsletterFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER!  Puppet Place are looking for your support.
The crowdfunder has some fabulous rewards – including festival passes for individuals & families, a signed illustration by Aardman’s Peter Lord, a one-on-one stop motion workshop and a puppet tailor-made in your image!

Click here to show your support and claim your reward.

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