Hey guys!! So last weekend, we visited Beverley for the Beverley Puppet Festival. Over the two days, there was a whole range of puppet performances, both free and for a small cost. We wandered around the four different venues for the Festival which were dotted around Beverley centre and experienced four unique and amazing puppetry performances that were free. Puppetry is such an incredible art form which requires more skill and patience than a lot of us could ever imagine. I have a lot of respect for all the performers at the Festival as they all starred in such amazing shows. This was actually the 13th Puppet Festival Beverley has welcomed and by sheer coincidence, they started their performances on the evening of Friday 13th!! So in today’s post, I’m going to share my experience of Beverley Puppet Festival with you and as always, grant you with my honest opinion.
THE TINIEST CELLIST
Our experience of Beverley Puppet Festival began with ‘The Tiniest Cellist’. The tiniest cellist was seated on the ground with his giant, puppet master twin looming over him and controlling his every movement while holding a cello bow to make it seem as though he was playing along too. There was a speaker blasting out whatever piece of music the tiniest cellist appeared to be playing but if that had been concealed away, you might’ve actually believed that it was the puppet playing. From where I was standing, the tiniest cello appeared life like as he immersed himself into every piece of music. I really applaud the puppet master for mastering such an intricate rountine and moving his hands at just the right moments to make it appear as though the puppet was playing the cello. I’m not entirely sure how the puppet master caused the puppet to speak though. Either it was pre recorded on the CD that was playing and he manipulated the puppet to lip sync along to it or he was a ventriloquist as well because it didn’t seem as though his lips moved to speak for the puppet at all. He was met with a thunderous round of applause at the end which was much deserved.
Next up was the performance of ‘The Alchemist’. The storyline was that a medieval Alchemist was striving to make a fortune and become famous but after a dangerous and unsuccessful attempt to create gold, his latest assistant lost their life. He struggled to continue on alone as he made awful mistakes in his experiments and is annoyed by a pair of troublesome rats and an extremely irritating blue bottle. The puppet master was concealed behind the Alchemist puppet and his arms and legs were attached to her arms and legs so she could control his every movement. She also only made sounds that conveyed the Alchemist’s emotions and didn’t grant the puppet with a voice or words. There was the same Italian sounding, classical music on a loop throughout the show which really added to the atmosphere of it all. The plot was easy to follow and the Alchemist’s emotions were easily distinguishable. My favourite part of the show was right at the end when the Alchemist accidentally enlarged the annoying blue bottle to become human sized and another member of their team appeared in a costume for the blue bottle and proceeded to chase the Alchemist. All in all, this was another amazing performance and I was very impressed with how easy it was to follow the plot and distinguish between the puppet’s different emotions.
THE MEADOW SPRITES
After that, we interacted with the Meadow Sprites. They roamed around the streets over Beverley rather than having a set place for a performance and they drew in quite a crowd. The puppetmasters sported all black outfits and controlled the puppets actions through one of their hands like a hand puppet. There was a female and male meadow sprite and they were both cheeky and charming and they really worked to engage with their audience. With a string of humorous jokes and tales about their woodland habitat, I was completely enchanted by them. Yet again, the puppeteers impressed me with the intricate control they had over their puppets and how real they caused them to seem.
DOLLY THE GIRAFFE
The last part of the Beverley Puppet Festival we were lucky enough to witness was Dolly the Giraffe. Dolly was a life sized, interactive giraffe puppet who towered over the crowds of people who gazed up at her in the streets. She was manipulated by her zookeeper puppeteers with sticks attached to her body. People were invited to stretch up leaves for her to nibble on and to pet her like they might do to a real giraffe. She also required someone to clean up after her and this part of the act garnered quite a few giggles from the audience. I enjoyed watching her elegant movements and how she interacted with different members of the audience as she snacked on the leaves they offered to her. Life sized puppets must be hard to control so the puppeteers deserve a lot of praise for how real they made Dolly seem with her behaviour and actions.
Overall, I really enjoyed the Beverley Festival. The skill set each of the different acts had was incredible and I have a lot of respect for the puppeteers who controlled their puppets so well. I hope the puppet Festival will continue on for many more years past the 13 years it’s had already.