Dozens of intriguing festivals lie ahead of us in 2015. First up is Manipulate, Puppet Animation Scotland‘s international festival of visual theatre and film, which takes place across Scotland over 9 days in January and February. Now in its eighth year, it offers high quality premieres of work by artists from across Europe and beyond, and with a new partner in the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries, as well as the usual Scottish core venues of Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre and Aberdeen’s Lemon Tree, it is bigger than ever before.
It all begins with a world premiere at the Traverse on 31 January when Scottish aerial dance company All Or Nothing unveil their new work, Three’s A Crowd. Based on the dynamics of human relations, and the special significance and connotations of the number three, it promises to be a stunning and passionate kick-off to a varied festival.
Belgian choreographer and dancer, Sabine Molenaar, introduces her first solo work, That’s It at the Traverse on 2 February. With its nightmarish visions of morphing creatures, it asks the question – where does a dream end and reality begin? There’s another UK premiere, by the French company Velo Theatre the following day. The wordless theatre piece And Then He Ate Me, where the fairytale combination of fearsome wolf and little house make a reappearance, plays in both Aberdeen and Edinburgh. Later in the week, there’s an adaptation of Madame Butterfly by Ramesh Meyyappan, with puppets by Gavin Glover giving a new flavour to this classic.
The animation strand of the programme has been beefed up further this year too. Alongside screenings, there’s an opportunity to hear leading proponents talk about their work in a series of Q&As, starting with a programme of films by Thomas Hicks, whose animations have complemented the music of Paul McCartney, Gravenhurst, Skunk Anansie and others. On 3 February, Estonian animator, Ulo Pikkov will be introducing his own work as well as showcasing his personal selections from the Polish animation scene of the 60s and 70s. Home-grown animators Neil Kempsell, Claire Lamond, Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson also feature in the programme.
With masterclasses at Summerhall for those who’d like to get more hands on, Manipulate looks like a great way to bust through the winter gloom.