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Chapter 03

  • Somerville - The Harlequin Theatre

  • Hijinx Theatre - Meet Fred

  • Talk to The Hand Puppets - Mongrels

  • The Lonely Sailor Weather Report

  • Cardiff Animation Festival

Somerville – The Harlequin Theatre

Somerville – The Harlequin Theatre

Chris Somerville has been fascinating children and delighting adults with puppets for over 60 years. He directs The Harlequin Puppet Theatre in North Wales. The Harlequin was the first permanent puppet theatre ever to be built in Britain, and remains the only theatre designed and built especially for puppet playing. Built in 1958, when it was awarded the Civic Trust ward, it remains unique.

Hijinx Theatre – Meet Fred

Hijinx Theatre – Meet Fred

Hijinx is an award-winning, inclusive theatre company based in Cardiff. All our productions include learning disabled performers alongside performers without learning disability. To support our work we have a network of Academies around Wales that train learning disabled performers in a variety of skills. We provide this training because it is virtually impossible for an actor with learning disability to access more traditional drama schools or universities. When ready, students from our Academies join us on our professional productions. This ensures that our work is always of the highest quality, with all artists starting a process on an equal footing. Meet Fred features three of our performers with learning disability, all of whom were heavily involved in the devising of the production.

Talk to The Hand Puppets – Mongrels

Talk to The Hand Puppets – Mongrels

Talk to the Hand Productions was founded in 2005 by puppeteers Andy Heath and Iestyn Evans. Since then, we’ve built and brought hundreds of beloved puppet characters vividly to life on screen.

From building compelling creatures to dazzling practical effects, our combined 40 years of industry experience and unparalleled eye for detail allows us to bring a standard of creative excellence to every stage of production: from workshop, to studio…right through to the edit suite.

We have designed, made, performed and directed characters for the BBC, Disney, The Jim Henson Company, Working Title, Hat Trick, Sky Arts, Ragdoll, Kids TV, Lego and Endemol, but are best known for making the puppets and overseeing all the puppetry for BBC3’s Mongrels, for which we won a Royal Television Society Award in 2012.

In addition, we are trusted puppet consultants for numerous creative agencies and production companies, including AMV BBDO, Wieden and Kennedy, BBH, Mullen and Lowe, Passion Pictures, Grey, Tricycle, Academy Films and Red Bee. Our work includes national and international campaigns for Three Mobile, Travelodge, Walkers, Activia and BT.

Moving into a new phase as a production company, we are developing shows and formats that push the boundaries of innovation in puppetry into the 21st century, while also advocating for better working practices and training opportunities for a new generation of puppeteers.

Craig Leo – The Lonely Sailor Weather Report

Craig Leo – The Lonely Sailor Weather Report

Craig Leo is a South African theatre designer, puppeteer and performing artist. Leaving university to begin working in theatre, he trained in circus arts, performing with The Zip Zap Circus, leading to a role in the Sun City Circus Extravaganza, Baletsatsi. Collaborating with colleagues, he formed the acrobatic theatre company ‘Myth’, touring both Austria and Germany. As performer and designer, he's has worked with top South African theatre makers. Magnet Theatre, Jazzart Dance Theatre, Mothertongue Project, Janni Younge Productions and The Handspring Puppet Company. Productions include Medea, Bolero, Rain in a Dead Man’s Footprints, Cargo, Partly God, The Flower of Shembe, I Turned away and She was Gone, City of Paradise, The Firebird and Womb of Fire, Heart of Redness, The Visit and Antigone(Quiet/not quiet). His collaboration with The Handspring Puppet Company includes Tall Horse, Il Ritorno d’Ulisse for William Kentridge, Franco Dragone’s House of the Dancing Water, War Horse, Or I'll Kiss You and Olifantland. Over the past decade Craig has continued his relationship with The National Theatre as Associate Director of Puppetry for War Horse for the UK, Holland and Australia.

Most recently Craig designed and directed the puppetry for Elliot Harper's The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe, directed by Sally Cookson for The Leeds Playhouse and The Bridge Theatre in London. As performer his recent work Includes Gyre and Gimble's, Vivaldi's Four Season Re-Imagined for The Shakespeare's Globe, London. Craig Is currently the resident director for The Handspring Puppet Company and will be directing the puppetry for a collaboration with Good Chance Theatre on a new piece called The Walk which will cross Europe in 2021.

Cardiff Animation Festival

Cardiff Animation Festival

Cardiff Animation Festival (CAF) brings people together to celebrate the best animation from all over the world for adults, families and filmmakers. Through events including a biennial international festival, monthly Cardiff Animation Nights, and a new programme of online events, CAF showcases animation for everyone with a broad selection of animated short films, features, masterclasses, workshops, filmmaker Q+As, retrospectives, an education program, exhibitions, behind-the-scenes screenings, industry events, panels, networking events and parties. CAF is a non-profit community organisation run by a team of animation lovers and creators living in Cardiff. The Cardiff Animation Festival team have been running animation events in Wales since 2014

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