Saved events

Digital Programme: Bill's 44th

Bill the puppet stares through the window into a room that is dressed for a birthday party.

Welcome to the Barbican for this year’s London International Mime Festival, guaranteed to brighten the dark days of January.

We’re delighted to be working again with Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig, the festival’s Directors, to bring four exciting and very different productions to the Theatre and The Pit between 24th January and 5th February, as well as screening The Unknown in Barbican Cinema 1 on 29th January. The circus-set melodrama is one of the greatest silent films of all time, starring “the man of a thousand faces” Lon Chaney and a young Joan Crawford.

We’re thrilled to once again be presenting international work on our stages. In the Theatre, Still Life, rising stars of Belgium’s acclaimed contemporary theatre scene present the UK premiere of Flesh, a playful, disruptive drama about our need for affection and recognition. This is followed by Olivier Award-winning dance theatre innovators Peeping Tom who return to the Barbican with the UK premiere of Triptych (The Missing Door, The Lost Room and The Hidden Floor), their new and most ambitious production yet.

In The Pit, Canadian Old Trout Puppet Workshop make their Barbican debut with Famous Puppet Death Scenes, a series of macabre vignettes featuring a range of different types of puppets perishing in a variety of ghoulish ways. This is followed by Dorothy James and Andy Manjuck’s Bill’s 44th, a poignant, puppet tragi-comedy for grown-ups created in pre-vaccine pandemic times.

Whether you’re here to see one, some or all of this year’s London International Mime Festival shows, we hope you have a fantastic time.

Toni Racklin, Head of Theatre and Dance, Barbican


Welcome to Bill’s 44th. Everything is set for a great party and you’re just in time.

Dorothy James’ and Andy Manjuck’s show is a wordless spectacle about the ingenuity of the mind and having to make do for so long without the people we wished would surround us. It’s not the party Bill had hoped to have, but we hope you enjoy it all the same.

Now in its 47th year, the Mime Festival is once again proud to partner with the Barbican in presenting exceptional international artists in London.

Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig, London International Mime Festival Directors


Images by Richard Termine

About the show

Hello and thank you for coming to Bill's 44th birthday party! Bill has been waiting a long time for this (it’s his first trip abroad!), and he is so thrilled you could make it.

Bill's 44th was originally conceived in 2016 as a 5 minute slam-piece for Puppet Homecomings. The prompt “They are coming” inspired us to throw a birthday party where no one ever shows up. Due to scheduling conflicts, however, we were unable to attend the slam and so Bill’s head was stuffed (lovingly) into a box on a shelf for another time. Two years later, we were invited to participate in Puppet Blok, an evening of work-in-progress showings of new puppet theatre at Dixon Place in NYC. We dusted off that head, gave it a moustache and a sweater, and (10 minutes of) Bill’s 44th was born!  

What followed was another, longer workshop in 2019, being commissioned by Dixon Place to turn Bill’s 44th into a full-length production in 2020, receiving a 2020 Production Grant from the Jim Henson Foundation, joining the 2020 Puppet Lab at St Ann’s Warehouse to continue development, and planning a final workshop performance at the New York State Puppet Festival before readying for the premiere at Dixon Place in the fall of 2020.

You’ll notice that’s a lot of “2020.” Obviously, things did not go quite as planned. 

While many of our ideas came to a screeching halt, Bill's journey continued. As we continued to develop this show about loneliness and isolation and waiting and waiting and waiting, our own–now unavoidable–experiences of loneliness and isolation and waiting and waiting and waiting encouraged us to find moments of joy, wonder, and even horror in our story that we might not have otherwise. Thanks to the New York State Puppet Festival in October of 2020 we were able to create Bill's 44th (A Zoom Birthday), a 30 minute version of our show performed live in our apartment and streamed over Zoom. And finally, in June of 2021 with an expanded team of three puppeteers, Bill found his way to his premiere at Dixon Place.

We want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate all of our collaborators and colleagues through the years who helped transform Bill's 44th into what it has become. Our process is a devised one –– the thoughts, gags, and reality-checks moulded Bill into who he is today, and without everyone's input, Bill would probably still just be a head in a box on a shelf. 

Bill the puppet looks down at a miniature puppet version of himself who is dressed exactly the same and holding a pink birthday cake with a single candle.

About the company

Andy Manjuck and Dorothy James have been working as professional puppeteers for over ten years, with Bill’s 44th marking their first endeavour as co-creators. Andy and Dorothy strive to produce innovative puppet theatre that pushes the boundaries of the medium, creating narratives that are simultaneously grounded and fantastical, serious and silly. Through a devised process, they experiment with different combinations of objects, materials, and methods of manipulation to best communicate the story they wish to tell, resulting in surprising and magical moments of visual theatre. The artists care deeply about the audience making significant connections with simple objects that are thoughtfully realized and thoroughly explored.

About the London International Mime Festival

London International Mime Festival (LIMF) promotes contemporary visual theatre. Its productions have been nominated for, and won, Olivier Awards, and in 2017 the festival was honoured with the Empty Space - Peter Brook Special Achievement Award for its work over four decades. Founded in 1977, LIMF is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. 

'The brilliant annual festival of visual theatre, dance, circus and puppetry’ The Guardian

A puppeteer dressed in black operates Bill the puppet. They walk across the room.

Creative team

Performers and Creative Team

Created by Dorothy James and Andy Manjuck
Performed by Dorothy James, Andy Manjuck, and Jon Riddleberger
Original Score Composed by Eamon Fogarty
Lighting Design by M. Jordan Wiggins
Sound Design by Andy Manjuck
Creative Collaborator Jon Riddleberger
Dramaturg Helena Pennington
Additional Set/Prop Construction by Peter Russo, Joseph Silovsky, and Taryn Uhe
Production Coordinator Taryn Uhe
Consulting Director for NYC Premiere Nick O’Leary
Creative Producer for NYC Premiere Leigh Walter 

Presented by the Barbican in association with London International Mime Festival

Bill's 44th is represented by Elsie Management:
President Laura Colby
Vice President Anna Amadei
Contracts Manager Jimena Alviar


Andy Manjuck (Co-creator and Puppeteer) is a Brooklyn-based artist. He is a company member of Wakka Wakka (Baby Universe, Saga, Made in China, The Immortal Jellyfish Girl), and has worked with Robin Frohardt (The Pigeoning, The Plastic Bag Store), Nick Lehane (Chimpanzee, and "Fly Away" – a collaboration with Derek Fordjour's SELF MUST DIE exhibition, Petzel Gallery), Unknown Mortal Orchestra (“That Life,” Double Solitaire), Doug Fitch (Petrushka with the NY Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oregon Symphony), Apple TV+ (Hello Tomorrow!), BYUtv (9 Years to Neptune), and Betty Productions ("4th Islamic Solidarity Games Opening Ceremonies," Baku, Azerbaijan, "48th National Day Celebration," Abu Dhabi, UAE). He co-founded the arts collective Eat Drink Tell Your Friends (Lectures, Photo & Supply). He has also taught and designed at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Dorothy James (Co-creator and Puppeteer) is a Brooklyn based puppeteer and maker of tiny things. She has puppeteered for Wakka Wakka (Made in China, The Immortal Jellyfish Girl, 59E59 Theaters & FigurTeatret i Nordland; Nick Lehane and Derek Fordjour (SELF MUST DIE: “Fly Away”, Petzel Gallery), Basil Twist (Hansel & Gretel, Michigan Opera Theatre), Molly Smith (Snow Child, Arena Stage), AchesonWalsh & Radio City (The New York Spectacular…) Unknown Mortal Orchestra (“That Life”), BBC (Moon and Me), Amazon (Patriot), and Apple TV+ (Hello Tomorrow!). As a creator, Dorothy uses table top, shadow, rod, and paper cut puppetry to create otherworldly narratives that meld the grotesque with a sense of innocence. Her paper cut stop-motion film Lethologica was an official selection of Chicago’s Big Teeth Small Shorts Film Festival, the Upstate NY Horror Festival, and Shockfest Film Festival.

Eamon Fogarty (Original Score) is a composer, songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist from New Hampshire, currently living in Austin TX. He’s released several albums of songs under his own name, most recently 2019’s Blue Values. His work is informed by a winding path through jazz, choral music, free improvisation, and folk song.

Jon Riddleberger (Creative Collaborator and Puppeteer) is a NYC-based actor, puppeteer, filmmaker and teacher. His work can be seen on-screen in the Clifford the Big Red Dog feature film, the BAFTA-nominated television show Moon and Me, and as puppeteer and puppet captain in the new Apple TV show Hello Tomorrow! Jon puppeteered the horses in the North American and Japanese tour of War Horse and continues to work with The Handspring Puppet Company on their production of Il Ritorno D'Ulisse directed by William Kentridge. He has worked many times with Dead Puppet Society most notably performing Laser Beak Man at the Sydney Opera House. Jon performed in Derek Fordjour and Nick Lehane’s collaborative piece, Fly Away, which has been turned into a film. His award-winning film The Memory Trade was produced by Heather Henson’s Handmade Puppet Dreams and has been seen in festivals around the country. He is currently in development for a new puppet series titled friend. Jon recently served as director of puppetry for Keelay Gipson’s new play demons. in a development workshop at New York Stage and Film and will be continuing his work on the full production at The Bushwick Starr this spring. Jon is an adjunct teacher at NYU Tisch where he teaches puppetry to the drama students. You can find out more at:

M. Jordan Wiggins (Lighting Design) is a lighting designer, programmer, and production manager for all areas of live entertainment. Recent works include: lighting design for Ballet Pensacola’s The Nutcracker, Fei Tian School of Dance at Middletown College, and Lincoln Center Education. Jordan has worked internationally designing for corporate events, dance, live music, cultural showcases, themed entertainment and acrobats. He is an alumni of the Savannah College of Art and Design and is the alumni chair for the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas. Selected works at:

Taryn Uhe (Production Coordinator) is a New York based stage manager, director and writer. Recently she has worked with Page 73, Radio City, Cherry Lane Theatre, Trusty Sidekick, Pip’s Island, Abrons Arts Center and more. Her work gravitates toward new and developing plays but has also included musicals, puppetry, immersive children’s theatre, burlesque, and fashion. BFA Nebraska Wesleyan University.

Helena Pennington (Dramaturg) is a new play dramaturg and literary administrator. Her work gravitates towards the intersection of theatre and other live performance styles, including puppet arts, music theatre, and immersive or environmental work. She is currently a member of the artistic development staff at Manhattan Theatre Club. Helena’s literary and dramaturgical work has also been seen at Playwrights Horizons, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference and National Music Theater Conference, HERE Arts Center, and more.


For the Barbican

Barbican Centre Board 
Tom Sleigh 
Deputy Chair 
Sir William Anthony Bowater Russell 
Deputy Chair 
Tobi Ruth Adebekun 

Board Members 
Munsur Ali, Randall Anderson, Michael 'Mikey J' Asante, Farmida Bi, Tijs Broeke, Zulum Elumogo, Gerard Grech, Ann Holmes, Wendy Hyde, Charles Edward Lord, Wendy Mead, Graham Packham, Mark Page, Jens Riegelsberger, Jane Roscoe, Despina Tsatsas and Irem Yerdelen  

Clerk to the Board 
Ben Dunleavy 
Barbican Centre Trust 
Farmida Bi CBE  
Robert Glick OBE 
Vice Chair 

Tom Bloxham MBE, Stephanie Camu , Tony Chambers , Cas Donald, Tracey Harrison , Jeff Holland , David Kapur, Ann Kenrick, Kendall Langford, Alasdair Nisbet, Tom Sleigh and Sian Westerman 

Chief Executive Officer   
Claire Spencer  
Artistic Director  
Will Gompertz  
Director of Operations and Buildings  
Jonathon Poyner  
Director of Development  
Natasha Harris  
Director of People, Inclusion and Culture  
Ali Mirza 
Senior Executive Assistant to Claire Spencer and Will Gompertz  
Jo Daly 

Theatre Department 
Head of Theatre and Dance  
Toni Racklin  
Senior Production Manager 
Simon Bourne 
Leanne Cosby, Jill Shelley, Fiona Stewart 
Assistant Producers 
Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge, Mali Siloko 
Production Managers 
Jamie Maisey, Lee Tasker 
Technical Managers 
Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Nik Kennedy, Martin Morgan, Stevie Porter 
Stage Managers 
Lucinda Hamlin, Charlotte Oliver 
Technical Supervisors 
James Breedon, John Gilroy, Jamie Massey, Adam Parrott, Tom Salmon, Lawrence Sills, Chris Wilby 
PA to Head of Theatre 
David Green

Production Administrator 
Caroline Hall 
Production Assistant 
Andrew Pellett 
Eleanor Foster, Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, Christian Lyons, Charlie Mann, Josh Massey, Matt Nelson 
Stage Door 
Julian Fox, aLbi Gravener 

Creative Learning 
Senior Producer 
Lauren Monaghan-Pisano  
Creative Learning Producer 
Lauren Brown 
Creative Learning Assistant Producer 
Rikky Onefeli 

Marketing Department 
Acting Head of Marketing 
Ben Jefferies 
Marketing Manager (Theatre and Dance) 
Kyle Bradshaw 
Marketing Assistant (Theatre and Dance) 
Rebecca Moore  

Communications Department 
Head of Communications 
James Tringham 
Communications Manager (Theatre and Dance) 
Communications Assistant (Theatre, Dance and Cinema) 
Sumayyah Sheikh 

Audience Experience  
Deputy Head of Audience Experience & Operations  
Sheree Miller  
Ticket Sales Managers  
Lucy Allen, Oliver Robinson, Ben Skinner, Jane Thomas  
Operations Managers  
Seán Carter, Richard Long, Rob Norris, Elizabeth Davies-Sadd, Samantha Teatheredge 
Operations Manager (Health & Safety)  
Mo Reideman  
Audience Event & Planning Manager  
Freda Pouflis  
Venue Managers  
Scott Davies, Tilly Devine, Gary Hunt, Nicola Lake, Tabitha Goble  
Assistant Venue Managers  
Suman Cheema, Giovana Lorensatto, Maria Pateli, Joanna Quilty, Cherry Xi, Daniel Young 
Crew Management  
Dave Magwood, Rob Magwood, James Towell  
Access and Licensing Manager  
Rebecca Oliver  
Security Operations Manager
James Cocklin 

Registered charity no. 294282 

Bill the puppet kneels on the floor while holding a string of colourful balloons.

With thanks

The Barbican is London’s creative catalyst for arts, curiosity and enterprise. We spark creative possibilities and transformation for artists, audiences and communities – to inspire, connect, and provoke debate.  

We’re committed to making a difference locally, nationally and internationally by showcasing some of the most inspiring and visionary work by artists and communities. We’re not-for-profit. Each year we need to raise 65% of our income through fundraising, ticket sales, and commercial activities. Our supporters play a vital role in keeping our programme accessible to everyone, which includes our work with local schools; development opportunities for emerging creatives; and access to discounted and subsidised tickets.

Barbican supporters enjoy behind the scenes access across the centre and see first-hand what their gift enables through enhanced priority booking, as well as access to tickets for sold-out performances and exclusive events.  For more information please visit or contact [email protected]


With thanks

Founder and Principal Funder
The City of London Corporation

Major Supporters
Arts Council England
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)
SHM Foundation
The Terra Foundation for American Art

Leading Supporters
Lonti Ebers
Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley
Marcus Margulies

Programme Supporters
Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre (Spirit Now London)
Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery
Sayeh Ghanbari
Elizabeth and J Jeffry Louis
Pat and Pierre Maugüé 
The Clare McKeon Charitable Trust
Hugh Monk
Romilly Walton Masters Award
The Rudge Shipley Charitable Trust

Director’s Circle
Farmida Bi CBE
Tom and Jo Bloxham MBE
Philippe & Stephanie Camu
Cas Donald
Trevor Fenwick and Jane Hindley
Ruth and Stuart Lipton
Tracey, Eloise and Max Mayerson
John Murray
Natrium Capital Limited

Corporate Supporters
Bank of America
Bolt Burdon Kemp
DLA Piper
Google Arts & Culture
Linklaters LLP
Morrison Foerster
Norton Rose Fulbright
Osborne Clarke
Pinsent Masons
Slaughter and May

Trusts & Grantmakers
The Austin and Hope Pilkington Charitable Trust

Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne
Art Fund
Bagri Foundation
CHK Foundation
Cockayne – Grants for the Arts
John S Cohen Foundation
Italian Cultural Institute in London
Korean Cultural Centre UK
Kusuma Trust UK
London Community Foundation
Mactaggart Third Fund
The Polonsky Foundation
Rix-Thompson-Rothenberg Foundation
Swiss Cultural Fund

We also want to thank the Barbican Patrons, donors to Name a Seat, and the many thousands who made a donation when purchasing tickets or contribute to the Barbican Fund.

If you’re interested in supporting the Barbican Centre Trust, visit or contact us on 0207 382 6185 or [email protected]

The Barbican Centre Trust, registered charity no. 294282

Key production sponsors

This engagement is supported in part by Mid Atlantic Arts through USArtists International, a program in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. It is also made possible by The Jim Henson Foundation’s 2023 Allelu Award. Bill’s 44th was originally commissioned by Dixon Place in NYC and was developed with support from the New York State Puppet Festival, The Jim Henson Foundation, Cheryl Henson, and the Puppet Lab at St. Ann’s Warehouse.