BFP+ : An Interview with Programme Curator, Emma Williams

BFP + is the Bristol Festival of Puppetry’s Professional Programme, which aims to provide artists and professionals working in puppetry and animation the opportunity to hone skills, learn new ones, meet up with fellow practitioners and make new connections.  The Programme has always bought a diverse range of workshops, masterclasses and networking events to the Festival, and this year is no exception.  We sat down with the Programme Curator, Emma Williams, to find out what was in store for BFP+ 2017.

Is there a theme to this Festival’s BFP+ Programme?

The notion of sharing knowledge underpins BFP+. the artist development strand of the puppet festival.  My ambition is to curate events where all questions are celebrated with umpteen opportunities to pose them and a range of extraordinary, experienced and diverse professionals to answer them.  Being given permission to ask questions is the key, and I hope within BFP+ we have created such an environment through a range of different events.

What masterclasses, workshops and other events for professionals are planned?

Because we are within the festival we are privileged enough to be able to offer masterclasses from companies who are performing work within the program. As a puppetry director, I am particularly intrigued by Stephen Mottram’s masterclass ‘The Logic of Movement’, which explores questions about the way audience read movement within puppetry.   To my mind,  exploring these questions is fundamental to understanding how to make certain decisions about the work you are making.

Copy of fangirl
Stephen Mottram’s masterclass ‘The Logic of Movement’

In previous years, the Festival Breakfast sessions have been an informal catch up.   Keeping that in mind (and the need for free coffee and croissants) we are simply adding a question to each breakfast and inviting a special guest to present some answers.  These questions will range from “What organisations are out there to support puppeteers and puppet companies and what can they do for you ?”  and “How can we make puppetry inclusive and accessible ?”

The first breakfast is on Saturday 02 September.  We have invited Sarah Wright, founder of the The Curious School of Puppetry and Kneehigh Theatre’s puppet maker/lead puppeteer to this breakfast, to answer questions about training and how to tackled the next steps to building a career.  I’m looking forward to that one.

I’ve also worked with our BFP Film Programme Curator, Emma Windsor, to bring an advanced workshop for stop motion artists to the Programme.  This workshop will be run by Jim Parkyn, senior modelmaker at Aardman and will demonstrate professional approaches to puppet head and hand production – often the most complex areas of puppet design.  It is ideal for those with some prior experience who want to get the best from the most expressive parts of a stop motion puppet.

Stop Motion Puppet Making, a workshop with Jim Parkyn.

We are also holding a brand-new event this year titled ‘The New Faces of Puppetry Animation’, which for anyone over the age of forty will remind you of a 70’s TV talent contest with a very similar title.  This sweet and awkward 1970’s TV show bares no relation to our BFP+ event, except perhaps in its celebration of talent! Instead, we have gathered four experts in the field of puppetry and animation to talk about their experiences. We will be questioning preconceived ideas around what the new face of puppetry and animation is and each member of the panel will talk about their work, goals ambitions and projects. We are a puppetry festival so expect surprises alongside the chat.

What are you particularly looking forward to in this year’s programme?

I love this festival. Two years ago I watched everything in the programme.  It was the maddest week, filled with the strangest of things – sometimes joyous, sometimes sad, sometimes hysterical. Therefore, my unrealistic tip would be just go see everything. However, if you’re interested in new work, and want to see more than one thing on a budget, check out Prototype.  For the first-time we have teamed up with Tobacco Factory Theatres to run a Prototype dedicated to puppetry.

If you have never seen Prototype before, it is an event were new work is performed for the first time to an audience. It is usually the beginning of a process and has led to some of the best bits of theatre I have ever seen in the South West.  It has never been dedicated solely to puppetry, so for me this is extremely exciting and also important for the development of new work.

Can’t wait!


Visit the Bristol Festival of Puppetry website to find out more and to book tickets to all the BFP+ Professional Programme events .  You can also find details of all our workshops for adults and children 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  Newsletter, FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

SUPPORT OUR CROWDFUNDER!  Puppet Place are looking for your support.
The crowdfunder has some fabulous rewards – including festival passes for families, a one-to-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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