Little Cauliflower are a young company creating innovative devised theatre, suitable for all ages. They have returned to the Fringe after a successful debut in 2011 with two new shows: The Machine and Night of the Big Wind. We spoke to puppeteer Lucy Western about creating family-friendly theatre and the art of puppetry.
Tell us more about Little Cauliflower.
We are a puppetry and visual theatre company based in Canterbury. I joined the company at its creation about two years ago. The company currently consists of seven of us all aged between 19 and 24. We all work in a really collective way – everyone tries to do a bit of everything so there is never a dull moment!
What were the high and low points of your first Fringe?
The high point has got to be when a seven-year-old boy approached us after one of our shows to tell us he was our biggest fan! Although it’s great to read in reviews that adults have loved the show, it’s lovely to know that our work really does appeal to people of all ages.
The low point was probably when I was tutted at for trying to give a woman one of our flyers!
This year you have brought two shows to the Fringe. One of these is billed as a children’s show, the other as adult theatre. How do you distinguish, and who do you see as your target audience?
I think the main way we distinguish between shows and audiences is the way we approach the subject matter. Adult theatre needs an element of sophisticated humour that is slightly more multidimensional than children’s theatre, but that importantly doesn’t isolate a younger audience.
Likewise, we create children’s theatre that is still accessible to adults but that in some way, whether it be visually or verbally, is more appropriate for children. Really, we always make theatre that is for all ages; the fun lies in mixing the serious and the silly.
I think people have begun to accept that puppetry is branching off from the typical stereotypes
Puppetry is often seen as being aimed at children, yet adult puppet shows are becoming much more prevalent. Can you explain the appeal, and perhaps talk a little about innovations in puppetry and the direction you see the art taking?
For me personally, the appeal of puppetry partly lies in the audience’s role within the performance. I find it much easier to connect to a piece of puppetry because I am personally committing to the performance by believing in the puppet’s life.
I think puppetry has had a bit of a hard time as a lot of people automatically think of Punch and Judy. Although, since shows such as Warhorse I think people have begun to accept that puppetry is branching off from the typical stereotypes surrounding it and is becoming a contemporary medium of theatre in its own right.
I think puppetry will only keep moving forward; I believe there are some brilliant opportunities for puppetry to be combined with immersive theatre, not only because of its connection to an audience but because of its visual nature.