Meet Fred: An Interview with Hijinx

Welsh theatre company, Hijinx, make stunning theatre performed by actors with and without learning disabilities.  In their latest show ‘Meet Fred’ (produced in association with Blind Summit) a two-foot tall cloth puppet fights prejudice every day.  We chatted with them about what makes their theatre unique and what audiences should expect from performance with learning disabled actors.   

Can you tell us a little about yourselves.  What makes Hijinx different from other theatre companies?

Hijinx is a professional theatre company based at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff who tour small scale theatre throughout the UK and Europe. What makes us different is that our casts always include actors who have learning disabilities. The ability of these effortlessly talented performers is at the heart of every show we produce, creating work that is utterly absorbing, surprising and provocative.

MartinScreen(edit)-1 credit Tom Beardshaw
Meet Fred. Photo by: Tom Beardshaw

We call it inclusive theatre because it makes much of the skills and raw talent of people who often get overlooked in today’s world and gives them a platform to make and perform stunning theatre alongside actors who don’t have disabilities. Training actors with learning disabilities to perform at a professional level is also at the heart of our mission. We have established the only professional performance training in Wales for actors with learning disabilities: there are two Hijinx Academies in Cardiff, one in West Wales, one in North Wales and one in Mid Wales.

Can you tell us a little about ‘Meet Fred?’

Well, Fred is just a regular guy who wants to get on in life. He wants a good job and to settle down with a nice girl. The only problem is that Fred is a two-foot tall cloth puppet and day to day life has many dependency issues when everything you do relies on three other guys being with you at all times!  His life begins to spiral out of his control when he is threatened with losing his PLA (Puppetry Living Allowance).

StormScreen(edit)-1 credit Tom Beardshaw
Meet Fred. Photo by: Tom Beardshaw

‘Meet Fred’ is a visually inventive and entertaining snapshot into the life of a potty-mouthed puppet with a feisty personality who fights prejudice every day. It is an original exploration of what it means to be different, an outsider trying to make his mark in a world in which he needs a lot of help. With wit and dark humour we try to expose the ridiculous situations some of the most vulnerable in our society encounter when their support is taken from them, exploding the myth that “we are all in this together”.

Fred with cloud_c_Jonathan Dunn
Fred with a cloud. Photo by: Tom Beardshaw

What should audiences expect from your work?

Expect something edgy, surprising, sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes hilarious, sometimes beautiful or ugly, sexy or plain offensive, but always with a cast that includes artists with learning disability.

Meet Fred lead image_c_Tom Beardshaw
Photo by: Tom Beardshaw

Interview by Stephen Barrie Watters


Visit the Bristol Festival of Puppetry website to find out more and to book tickets to ‘Meet Fred’ our BSL interpreted evening performance (7:30pm Mon 04 Sept) and our relaxed afternoon performance (2pm Mon 04 Sept) .  You can also find details of all our shows for adults and children at Tobacco Factory Theatres 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  Newsletter, FacebookTwitter, 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 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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