About the show
Who could forget the first time they saw a puppet die? It’s one of the most emotionally devastating experiences a person can have. To see an otherwise inanimate object with cute googly eyes and a funny voice come to life before your eyes fills us with delight and wonder, and then to see that life snatched away drives a dagger deep into our psyches, a dagger which then opens up at the pointy end to reveal a little dagger mouth, that screams inside our fragile hearts: “Please, no, don’t let the puppet die! For in that puppet’s death, do I not sense the dread whispers of my own impending mortality?”
Great works of art ask questions like that – questions that maybe can’t ever truly be answered, but must be asked again and again by each generation anew. And thusly every era creates its own masterpiece of puppet theatre, which becomes the fulcrum of all our hopes and fears; eternal works like Bipsy and Mumu Go to the Zoo by Fun Freddy or Nordo Frot’s The Feverish Heart have not only defined their times, they have shown us who we really are, deep down, where nobody else can see. We owe those shows, and those artists, so, so much.
But, my gosh, who’s got the time these days to see an entire puppet show? Yes: back before the internet, people were used to being bored, so they could sit still for a surprising amount of time without wondering if they were missing something more exciting happening somewhere else. But now we expect our emotional devastation to be delivered like a kung fu punch to our soft bits so we can move on to the next intense experience as quickly as possible. And so, the Old Trout Puppet Workshop has gathered together, for your existential anguish, ONLY THE MOST DRAMATIC BITS of the GREATEST MASTERWORKS OF PUPPET THEATRE throughout history: namely, the part where the puppet dies. No need to sit through laborious exposition or plotting or character development – we leap straight to the laser beam point, like a “Now That’s What I Call Music!” compilation album with every single song that has ever made you cry.
It’s a horrible thing to experience. You should go do something more cheerful. You only have so much time left.
About the Company
The Old Trout Puppet Workshop was founded back in the blustery winter of 1999 by a gang of old buddies in a coal-heated shack on a ranch in southern Alberta. Since those distant and savage days, the Old Trouts have grown to become one of Canada’s best-known artistic exports. Now based in Calgary, they’ve made puppet shows for both children and adults that tour the world, written and illustrated several books, crafted immense sculptures, and made films (including a Juno Award-winning video for Feist, and a Christmas special with the National Film Board)… not to mention helping to run a puppet festival, teaching extensively and creating large-scale shows with companies like the National Arts Centre, Theatre Calgary, and Vancouver Opera. Most recently, they teamed up with Calgary Opera to create a brand new puppet opera based on an ancient Greek ghost story, the perhaps a-little-too-aptly-named Ghost Opera. Next up: who knows? They’re working on adaptations of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Threepenny Opera, and Faust, plus a video game, an animated film using motion capture suits, and touring Famous Puppet Death Scenes to anywhere that will invite them, because they are desperate to be wanted.
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
Puppets meet untimely ends in Famous Puppet Death Scenes – discover more about the production and the company behind it in this interview with The Washington Post.
In this short video, Helen Lannaghan and Joseph Seelig, the directors of the London International Mime Festival, introduce The Old Trout Puppet Workshop's Famous Puppet Death Scenes.
For the Old Trout Puppet Workshop
Performed by Louisa Ashton, Aya Nakamura and Teele Uustani
Directed by Peter Balkwill, Pityu Kenderes and Judd Palmer
Stage managed by Bea Galloway
Costumes designed and made by Jen Gareau
Lights designed by David Duffy and Amelia Newbert
Assistant lighting design by Ash Copeland
Sounds made by Mike Rinaldi
Technical direction by Amelia Newbert, Bea Galloway and Pityu Kenderes
Generally managed by Bob Davis
Set built by Riley Miljan/Tech Art Custom Creations
For the Barbican
Barbican Centre Board
Sir William Anthony Bowater Russell
Tobi Ruth Adebekun
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
Barbican Centre Trust
Farmida Bi CBE
Robert Glick OBE
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
Director of Operations and Buildings
Director of Development
Director of People, Inclusion and Culture
Senior Executive Assistant to Claire Spencer and Will Gompertz
Head of Theatre and Dance
Senior Production Manager
Leanne Cosby, Jill Shelley, Fiona Stewart
Anna Dominian, Saxon Mudge, Mali Siloko
Jamie Maisey, Lee Tasker
Steve Daly, Jane Dickerson, Nik Kennedy, Martin Morgan, Stevie Porter
Lucinda Hamlin, Charlotte Oliver
James Breedon, John Gilroy, Jamie Massey, Adam Parrott, Tom Salmon, Lawrence Sills, Chris Wilby
PA to Head of Theatre
Eleanor Foster, Kendell Foster, Burcham Johnson, Christian Lyons, Charlie Mann, Josh Massey, Matt Nelson
Julian Fox, aLbi Gravener
Creative Learning Producer
Creative Learning Assistant Producer
Acting Head of Marketing
Marketing Manager (Theatre and Dance)
Marketing Assistant (Theatre and Dance)
Head of Communications
Communications Manager (Theatre and Dance)
Communications Assistant (Theatre, Dance and Cinema)
Deputy Head of Audience Experience & Operations
Ticket Sales Managers
Lucy Allen, Oliver Robinson, Ben Skinner, Jane Thomas
Seán Carter, Richard Long, Rob Norris, Elizabeth Davies-Sadd, Samantha Teatheredge
Operations Manager (Health & Safety)
Audience Event & Planning Manager
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
Dave Magwood, Rob Magwood, James Towell
Access and Licensing Manager
Security Operations Manager
Registered charity no. 294282
Louisa Ashton – Performer
Originally training as a dancer, Louisa fell down the stairs backstage dressed as Nana the Dog in 2006, broke her ankle and quickly decided to ditch jazz hands for a sweaty, grimy life of puppetry. Based in Manchester, she is now the Co-Artistic Director of puppetry company Sparkle and Dark, and is an associate puppetry artist with Half a String Theatre. She has performed with companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, Little Angel Theatre, V&A Museum, Polka Theatre, Paper Balloon, Theatre Témoin, and others. She is also training to be a giggle doctor, working with children in hospitals around the UK.
Aya Nakamura – Performer
Aya is a London-based theatre-maker, puppeteer, and puppet maker, originally from Japan. For the last 15 years, she has worked on many children's and adult puppet productions for a variety of theatre companies including: Improbable, Polka Theatre, Handbendi Brúðuleikhús (Iceland), Horse and Bamboo, Norwich Puppet Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, Oily Cart, and Wattle & Daub Figure Theatre. Aya also runs the award-winning company Rouge28 Theatre, which has toured productions nationally and internationally. More information can be found at www.ayanakamura.com
Teele Uustani – Performer
Teele is a London-based performer/puppeteer from Estonia. She trained at the Lecoq pedagogy-based London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA), and studied puppetry at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actress and a puppeteer, she has worked with companies such as: Theatre-Rites, Zou Theatre (CAN), The Paper Cinema, Maison Foo, Significant Object, Strangeface, Dotted Line Theatre, Genius Sweatshop, and Tête à Tête. She has collaborated with international groups and performed in several site-specific theatre productions both outdoors and indoors as well as been involved in several short films, music videos and theatre projects as a deviser, puppet maker, and assistant director.
Peter Balkwill – Co-Director
Peter is one of the founding Co-Artistic Directors of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop. He is also an assistant professor of drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. In addition to working with the Old Trouts, Pete explores creative projects with a host of other artists, mostly with a concern for intercultural exploration. This kind of work has him tagged in with Papermoon Puppet Theatre in Indonesia, as well as projects involving Blackfoot and Stoney First Nations of southern Alberta. He carries unspeakable gratitude for his journey with fellow Trouts.
Pityu Kenderes – Co-Director
Pityu is one of the founding Co-Artistic Directors of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop. Pityu is a sculptor and painter and puppeteer, in live theatre and for film. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Nova Scotia College of Arts and Design, and a graduate degree in Fine Arts from the University of Calgary. He lives in a big old house overlooking the ocean in Nova Scotia with his wonderful partner Jen, and a farm full of animals! He is overjoyed to be a part of the team that is bringing Famous Puppet Death Scenes to the Barbican for the London International Mime Festival. It is truly an honour to work with such fine people.
Judd Palmer – Co-Director
Judd is one of the founding Co-Artistic Directors of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, and so thinking up puppet shows is his main bag, God help him. Judd is also a writer and illustrator – three of his books have been shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award for Children’s Literature – and long ago he was the singer and slide banjo player in the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. He lives on Vancouver Island with the woman of his dreams and their son Max, who is six years old now but will grow up to be a great conqueror. Except the good kind of conqueror. A conqueror for goodness.
Beatrice Galloway – Stage Manager
Bea is a Belgo-British production stage manager who trained at the Edinburgh School of Lighting, Sound and Stage Management. Recent theatre shows include: The Cart (Oily Cart), In the Weeds (Mull Theatre), Tank & Me (Collectif and then...), Space to Be (Oily Cart), unReal City (dreamthinkspeak & Access All Areas), All Wrapped Up (Oily Cart), Belly of the Whale (Ockham's Razor), Flight Paths (Extant), Dead and Breathing (Arch 468), and Cuddles (Arch 468). She has also worked on exhibitions (Beasts of London - Museum of London), events (Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014), and film (The Lady in the Van).
Key production sponsors
Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Calgary Arts Development Authority, Calgary Foundation
Famous Puppet Death Scenes was developed as a creative residency with the PuSH Festival in Vancouver, and was also supported by the Banff Centre’s Creation and Development program. The Old Trouts are very grateful for their assistance.