Bristol Festival of Puppetry returns to empower conversations about difference and inclusion

We very much look forward to welcoming you to this year’s festival. 1-10 September to start conversations with and to show audiences that iPads can become hand puppets, that film and animation is a form of puppetry, and that puppets, just like humans, can come in all shapes and sizes, with different abilities.

With events at Watershed, Tobacco Factory Theatres and Puppet Place in Bristol, this year’s line-up of events welcomes artists from all over the globe and is set to reflect how the world has changed over the past two years since the last festival in 2015.

The programme has been produced by Chris Pirie and Rachel McNally to ensure there is something for everybody, from free events for the curious who are new to puppetry and wish to give it a try before buying tickets, to workshops for both wannabe and professional puppeteers, and BSL and relaxed events for people with hearing impairments or other additional needs.

Chris and Rachel said: “We are so excited to be inviting incredible artists from around the world to Bristol, to showcase the best of UK and local talent, and to stimulate conversations about puppetry in all its unique guises. 

“The festival is an opportunity for everyone in Bristol to celebrate our city’s diverse creative offer and to us reach new communities with our rich programme of live shows, film and free activities. We can’t wait to welcome you all…”

Festival highlights include:

Meet Fred 
From Hijinx
Monday 4 September 2pm (relaxed performance)/7.30pm (BSL interpreted)
Meet Fred, the two foot tall cloth puppet that fights prejudice every day. He just wants to be a regular guy, part of the real world, to get a job and meet a girl, but when threatened with losing his PLA (Puppetry Living Allowance), Fred’s life begins to spiral out of his control. This Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 sell-out hit contains strong language and puppet nudity.

UK Premiere of
From Les Sages Fous (Canada)
Thursday 7 & Friday 8 September 8pm, Tobacco Factory Theatres, £17/£11 conc
Inspired by the collectors of Trois-Rivières who travel the city on old tricycles in search of junk, Tricyckle breaks the barriers between high culture and folk art.

Les Sages Fous presents a theatre of paradoxes; grotesque and poetic, ritual and mundane, domestic and marvellous. The company recreates a lost world where the mask, the puppet, the object and the human can co-exist. A theatre where images and gestures speak louder than words; a theatre as surprising and disturbing as it is undisciplined and wild.

La Causeuse (The Loveseat) 
From Equivoc (Canada) 
Saturday 9 & Sunday 10 September 8pm, Tobacco Factory Theatres, £17/£11 concessions
Without a word, a young woman guides us through darkly comic and poignant dialogues as she revisits the memories of a sordid and doomed romance. As wandering hands seduce and frolic, she dances and wrestles with her inner demons. La Causeuse is a brilliant virtuosic piece of physical theatre at the crossroads of dance, mime, physical and object theatre. It focuses on visual performance and choreographic installation, placing body and movement at the centre of Olivia Lathuillière’s artistic approach.

Family shows:

From Barnaby Dixon
Friday 1 September, 8pm, Tobacco Factory Theatres, £15/£11 concessions
Winner of German TV talent show Die Puppenstars 2017, Barnaby has taken his micro-puppetry to extraordinary levels. His YouTube channel has reached millions of people worldwide with Dabchick, Raptor and Manu. Meet them all in a special evening showcasing Barnaby’s talent and the secrets to his success.

Creatures of Bristol Carnival
Saturday 2 September starts 12pm, North Street, Southville, FREE
Join us as we kick-start the festival with our parade of carnival creatures, giant puppets and live music. The carnival has become an iconic part of the festival and is a true celebration of Bristol’s creative community spirit!

UK Premiere of
From Bontehond (NL)
Saturday 2 September 11am & 1pm, Tobacco Factory Theatres, £8
Two children’s entertainers create balloon animals and pull bananas out of iPads, just the way it’s supposed to be done. But the magic rebels and one iPad disrupts the entire show. A hilarious non-language show for the youngest audience, with music, magic and movement.

Yamasong: March of the Hollows (film)
Sunday 10 September, 6pm, Watershed, £9 / £6.50 conc / £4.50 under 24s
An automated girl and tortoise warrior journey with a band of outlaws on an incredible quest.
Their one hope is to find a legendary relic to defeat an army and save the creatures of their world. This stunning all-puppetry feature continues in the epic visual storytelling tradition of The Dark Crystal and is brought to life by an incredible cast including Nathan Fillion, Abigail Breslin and Whoopi Goldberg.

To find out more please visit our festival website: 
Please note events at Tobacco Factory Theatre will be on sale from 25 July – don’t worry we’ll send you a reminder!

To find out more about Puppet Place – producers of Bristol Festival of Puppetry, please visit our website

We very much look forward to seeing you all at the festival, enjoying some of the world’s best puppetry and animation on stage and screen and having a great conversation over a glass or two!