We’re in full-on build mode here at Thingumajig for the debut tour of Ugly Duckling! The papier mache is flying, ducklings keep appearing out of nowhere, songs and script are being written and rewritten.
We’re off! A 28-venue tour of “A November Day”, which follows a woman’s discovery of the story of her grandfather, a survivor of WW1. The show was created in 2008 in association with the Imperial War Museum North. We toured it this spring and thanks to our fantastic tour booker, Makin Projects, we have an exciting autumn tour throughout the UK starting with a couple of shows at the Jersey Opera House!
See more info and tour schedule HERE.
To see what we’ve been up to so far this year, see our Oct 2014 Newsletter.
Hope to see you your nearest venue!
We had a fantastic time bringing a larger team of artists to Hamburg to be a part of the STAMP Festival Parades. STAMP is a weekend street festival which is famous for their street parades. It’s a huge affair with a combination of processional street acts from around Europe and several part community part professional groups from nearby and throughout Germany.
We performed in 2 parades: Jellish for the night parade and Sun Birds for the day parade.
They were supper long parades (about 2 hours each) but the crowds were very enthusiastic and the team of 7 artist we brought really stepped up to the challenge.
Giant puppets at a massive music festival on an island in Budapest? Why not! For the first time, we crated our giant puppets and flew to meet them for the week-long Sziget Festival. It was a big experience.
It was its own universe, much like Glastonbury or Burning Man which attracted about 80,000+ people from throughout Europe. There were some big names (not that we knew them very well) and lots of great public art and street theatre.
We brought out hippo and the dodos and did 3 sets a day (two of one, one of the other). The crowds were really very enthusiastic. Folks loved the hippo and as it turns out, the dodos are party animals when they find a dance floor!
There were some very impressive big street shows and it was great to hang out with some of our British street arts colleagues Acrojou, Flying Buttresses and Swank.
Sziget wasn’t without its challenges: the first day, we were performing in 30+ degree Celsius. We were so glad there were showers backstage for the performers! The festival really looked out for their artists and crew: huge buffet feast twice a day (including beer and wine–how civilised!), lovely hotel, decent coffee and air conditioning in the green room marquee!
As we required a bit more space than your average street act, we were backstage of the Budapest Opera stage who put on a lovely show of opera favourites. This will go down as one of our most surreal experiences ever: packing up our mechanical hippo after our last set, in the dark surrounded by glorious opera sung just a few metres from us.
Thingumajig Theatre loves folk festivals! Without fail, they seem to attract the best, most open audiences and, when you’re not working, we get to listen to some excellent music. And this year, we hit the mother lode!
Sidmouth Folk Week, now in its 60th year is a week-long event filled with workshops, concerts, buskers and more Morris dancers than you can shake a stick at. Plus, it has the advantage of being on a gorgeous beach so you can always go for a walk or dip if you need to step away.
Ray and Bev Langton who we’ve worked with at Big Session and Towersey Festival asked us to lead a week-long workshop to create a lantern section as part of the big Torchlight Parade finale. We held 5 days of lantern workshops where we made jelly fish and some water spirit costumes.
We also recycled some materials from last year’s parade make (a giant snake) to make 3 giant jellyfish.
We had some great families and a great crew of volunteer helpers. We also had an assistant artist all the way from Los Angeles: Ezra Behnin-Peterson, son of puppeteer Beth Peterson and musician Severin Behnin who we’ve worked with for many years together with In the Heart of the Beast Theatre.
It was a lovely project which was received well and we had a chance to hear some great music and Andrew even took some workshops in playing the Bones!
Thingumajig Theatre were invited once again to create a giant puppet puppet for the Manchester Day Parade. This year, we were asked to work with Manchester Fire and Rescue. They are about to introduce a new uniform so they asked us to create a parade giant puppet of an Asian woman firefighter who would be wearing the new costume.
They also asked us to work with a group of Princes’ Trust youths to create an ensemble to interact with the firefighter.
It was a great little ensemble: the youths formed groups of flame flags which the firefighter chased and tried to put out with an extinguisher.
The mechanism was a slight variation on our usual mechanism as seen here in Kelda. As one arm was fixed, we created a system which only required one hand to operated.
It was also great to make a giant with high vis fabric–you could certainly see this puppet coming from a long way away!
The puppet now belongs to Manchester Fire and Rescue and was also part of the Manchester Pride Parade.
See more photos and a short video.
Thingumajig Theatre was invited to lead a one-day puppetry workshop in Seoul for the Korean Traditional Performing Arts Foundation. They were holding a conference of international arts–one day was workshops in Thai dance and traditional music, another day was world music from artists throughout Europe and the Middle East and the third day was us!
They asked us to bring a team of artist along so in addition to artistic director Andrew Kim, we invited Mark Whitaker (director of A November Day and Hullaba Lulu and one of our most frequent freelance puppeteers) and Jimmy Davies a puppet maker from Italy who, like Andrew, is of Korean extraction.
The workshop was attended by about 40 Korean adults. Most were theatre artists, actors and visual artists; a few were students and a few were puppeteers working with their own companies or shows.
The workshop started with Andrew showing images and videos of both Thingumajig Theatre and Handmade Parade. This was followed by a hands-on workshop of basic puppetry techniques using pieces of fabric and found objects.
After lunch, Mark Whitaker taught skill-building with rod puppets, glove puppets and a table-top puppet on loan from Horse & Bamboo. Jimmy Davies finished the day with a talk about traditional Italian glove puppets.
It was all a bit ridiculous to travel all that way, with suitcases filled with random pieces of fabric, plumbing fittings and puppets, to teach for one day but it was great fun and hopefully the start of conversations which will lead to more elaborate projects.
We’re pleased to announce our next puppet show: Ugly Duckling!
Thingumajig Theatre will be diving into the sweet but surprisingly substantial story by Hans Christian Andersen of misfits and metamorphosis. Our Ugly Duckling will be filled with humour, live music and some generous sprinklings of theatre magic.
This will be a departure for Thingumajig as we’ve always created our own original stories. But with the rich themes and the potential for fun in Ugly Duckling, we think we will be able to give a unique Thingumajig Theatre treatment to the piece.
Ugly Duckling will be puppet play aimed at ages 5 and up and will run about 50 minutes.
We are pleased to be continuing our collaboration with director Mark Whitaker who has directed Hullaba Lulu and A November Day and our fabulous new tour bookers Makin Projects who have booked two excellent tours of A November Day this year.
We will be devising this play this summer and building it in the winter and will be available in spring 2015.
Can’t wait to get started! (But for now: giant puppets, parades and festivals call…)
We’re back from a fantastic 3-week spring tour of “A November Day,” our story of the granddaughter of a WW1 soldier who comes to terms with the events he experienced in the Great War. We originally created the play in 2008 and decided to remount it in this centenary year of the start of the war. We’ve had the great fortune of working through Makin Projects who booked the spring tour and are currently booking an exciting 6-week tour in October and November, 2014. We’ll post this schedule in a few months time when it finalises.
We started the tour at The North Wall in Oxford, a wonderful space where we had first performed last year with Hullaba Lulu. Again, we were delighted with the audience–really present and responsive with great feedback afterwards.
Our next spot was at Christ’s Hospital, a very old school where had a chance to see their amazing procession into lunch which involves full marching band and intricate parade manoeuvres by the different houses–so great to see a ceremony still kept alive. Had a very full and enthusiastic audience as well.
Next we performed at the Firestation in Windsor and had a chance to look around that beautiful town. We were then off to Scotland for a couple of shows at the very fine studio at the Brunton Theatre in Musselburgh. Having travelled all that way, we gave ourselves a day off in the always interesting Edinburgh.
The next week of the tour found us at a very new and fancy Canada Water Culture Space in London, at the Central Studio in Basingstoke and playing to some lovely mixed aged audiences at the Palace-Dixon Studio in Southend who really supported their theatres.
The last week we played at the Sundial in Cirencester, a place where we’ve played several times, who really know our work and where we can always count on an enthusiastic audience filled with students eager to see something new. Then we ended our tour with 4 shows at the Salisbury Playhouse–2 schools shows and 2 public shows. It was really great to end in a solid run in a beautiful city at a venue which clearly has spent a lot of time and love growing their theatre-going community.
We had a great run, the show is sharper than ever and we’re really looking forward to a busy tour in the autumn. But for now, the puppets are back in their boxes and it’s parades, giant puppets and some exciting international festival for the next few months!
Here’s our March 2014 Newsletter. It’s been a long time since our last newsletter so see what we’ve been up to last few month and what we’re about to do including info about our upcoming tour, parades and our new street theatre tour booker!