If you live anywhere in the north of England from where the town of Skipton is a feasible day out then you need to have a good look at the Skipton Puppet Festival website. If puppets makes you think of just Punch and Judy or a wonky object you once made at school then think again. The Third International Skipton Puppet Festival will take you on a journey far removed from any pre-conceived ideas of puppetry.
The festival is brainchild of Daniel and Liz Lempen who run the touring company Lempen Puppets from their Skipton base. It is a biennial festival and began six years ago. It is wonderful thing that takes over the whole town. There is a huge amount of free street theatre and many little shows for just a couple of pounds. Standard tickets for the main shows, and there are lots of these, are just £5 each for the family shows with family tickets available at a small discount. The adult shows are £8. There are over 60 events over 3 days 25th-27th September so there is plenty from which to choose.
We've been to events at both the previous festivals including the evening cabaret aimed at adults (which was the most unexpected and entertaining collection of acting, puppetry and artistry I have ever seen) and the most charming rendition of the Pied Piper which held our then three year old daughter spell bound. There are shows for every age in between.
The theatre companies come from far and wide. Many are British but there are French, German, Russian, Hungarian, Austrian, and Belgian companies performing too. There are also history of puppetry and jig doll exhibitions at a number of venues and a range of street theatre and fringe performances plus a continental food market, a puppet and mask themed bookstall and the border morris troup the Flagcrackers. Compared with some of the prices for family day out this is a relatively inexpensive and wonderfully different option. If you can come please do!
The box office is now open and you can read the booking information here.
The pictures are all from The Skipton Puppet Festival website and feature the following companies and productions from the top:
Indigo Moon Theatre - Alice and the White Rabbit
Lempen Puppets - Journey of Turtle
Tabula Rasa - Peggy, The Laundry Child
Theater DaWa - The Brave Little Tailor
Clive Chandler and Martin Reeves - The Rickshaw
Thingumajig Theatre - Veronica
Rough Magic Theatre - Jaberwocky
If you live in Yorkshire and can get it there is an article about the Skipton Puppet Festival 2009 in the September issue of Yorkshire Ridings magazine by Mr Juxtabook under one of his pen-names, Jonas Holdsworth.