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Festival of Puppetry explores difference and inclusion

Puppets, just like humans, come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. This year’s Bristol Festival of Puppetry sets out to show audiences how the fascinating artform of puppetry has a unique role in exploring diversity.

Bristol Festival of Puppetry will take place from 1 to 10 September across the city and is supported with an award from our National Lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme. The festival is a celebration of all things animated - on stage and screen – and features shows, films, parades, talks and workshops for people of all ages.

With events at WatershedTobacco Factory Theatres and Puppet Place, this year’s line-up welcomes artists from across the globe as well as the home grown 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 of Puppet Place 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, to workshops for both wannabe and professional puppeteers, and BSL and relaxed events for people with hearing impairments or other additional needs.

"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 for us to reach new communities with our rich programme of live shows, film and free activities. We can't wait to welcome you all..." Chris and Rachel, Puppet Place

Since 2009, Bristol Festival of Puppetry has showcased world-class puppetry and animation from the best contemporary practitioners and most exciting new voices. Now, in its fifth year, the festival will examine puppetry’s role in addressing the diversity agenda; through brand new initiatives such as ‘Interchange’ and more established routes such as ‘Open Doors’. ‘Interchange’ comprises a set of events to inspire conversations with marginalised communities and individuals.  ‘Open Doors’ allows existing audiences and members of the public to explore Puppet Place, where they can meet the artists and catch the puppets in action. The festival aims to widen its reach and both of these routes will help to deepen the relationships between artists and audiences.  

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said: "The festival brings together a strong partnership of artists and organisations across Bristol and will make a sound contribution to the Creative Case for Diversity. Bristol is pioneering in its approach to puppetry and creative media and we are extremely pleased to be able to support these artforms to flourish."

Puppet Place define puppetry as ‘Bringing Life to the Inanimate’. Believing that puppetry is an artform that strides across boundaries and gets under your skin, Puppet Place see puppetry as a powerful tool for self-expression and reconciliation and a vibrant performing artform. Its origins are ancient, often enshrined in religious ritual, yet its tendrils reach into the latest robotics and AI research.

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