Isabel Lyster is a performance maker, puppetry specialist and visual artist. She works in collaboration with theatre companies and a network of individual practitioners combining performance, puppetry and education. We caught up with her to find out more about her practice, her ambitions and her latest performance, ‘The Skeleton Woman.’
What’s your background? How did you get into performance and puppetry?
I originally studied 3D design and illustration at college, but I was always drawn towards movement in my work and I enjoy the dynamic aspect to performance. I stumbled into a show by Faulty Optic. It completely opened my mind to a world of experimental adult puppetry work, this really excited me. I wasn’t planning on going to university but I happened to find the puppetry degree and jumped on it.
Your latest show ‘The Skeleton Woman’ is based on an Inuit folk tale. Can you tell us more about that and this performance?
When I first heard the story, it was the beautiful imagery that drew me in. The skeleton woman tangled up in the fisherman’s line, the chase, the igloo. There is a dual narrative taking place with journey of the fisherman and the skeleton woman, they are simultaneously experiencing completely different emotions. There’s a lot of natural humour and tension in this. I use this and tell the story through two forms: shadow puppetry and table top puppetry, playing with the two perspectives of one event. At a point the two forms join, there is a turning point where a transformation happens.
On a deeper level the show explores our fear of death and letting go.
It’s a solo performance, with fun audience interaction and lots of humour. There is an amazing musical score composed and played live by Rob Pemberton. The show is for robust and brave audience members from the age of six. We are doing our next show at Prema Arts Centre on Saturday the 20th of October, bookings can be made online at the Prema Arts Centre website.
What other activities are you involved in? What’s next?
I’m running a Halloween workshop for children, making a mini shadow theatre, puppets and story. This is at Cheltenham Art and Craft workshop on Sunday 28th October, (contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.) Then I will be involved in a puppetry workshop with a group refugee woman with a charity and performing a non verbal show which educates them about online safety, I feel really passionate about this work.
As an ongoing project I’m working towards designing a range of children’s toys and mobiles. But for the past year I’ve been establishing my puppetry company Paper Jungle, doing a lot of ground work towards this. Now we are working towards our next show, so watch this space!
Interview by Emma Windsor
To find out more about Isabel and to view her portfolio of work, visit her website: http://www.isabellyster.com