In association with our Puppet Power: Festival of Ideas which runs May 23 – 29, 2022 we’re excited to offer the Puppet Power Artist Feature, a series of blogs exploring the role of puppetry in ‘celebration’ of some sort or another. Thank you to the puppeteers from around the world, who contributed their insights and their work in these challenging times.
Celebrating the Human Spirit – Conference of the Birds
by Beka Haigh, Founder of Frolicked Theatre, West Yorkshire, England
(edited Wendy Passmore-Godfrey)
Street theatre has its roots in ritual and celebration. With the history of companies like Royal de Luxe in France, Welfare State in the UK and Bread and Puppet in the United States, both outdoor arts and large-scale puppetry have had their performances and events well-rooted in a tradition of celebration and thanksgiving.
Puppetry is another way to celebrate and at Frolicked we believe that small scale puppets can have a big impact too. We like to challenge the perception of puppetry with self devised and crafted creatures and characters that populate highly visual performances for unusual locations. We celebrate intimacy and brief moments of connection with our audiences through the ways in which we interact and present our work.
Frolicked’s version of Conference of the Birds is a way of showing that we can celebrate once again. Based on the Sufi poem, this classical piece of literature features a flock of five magnificent birds who embark on a visual and musical journey through the landscape. Written in the 12th Century by Persian poet, Farid ud-Din Attar, the story follows the perilous journey of all of the birds of the world to find their ruler. Many of the birds perish, but those who make it realize that they need no king – they are the masters of their own fate. Using skilled puppetry and four-part harmony, four puppeteers guide the birds and sing their story whilst making their way through adversity to find their destiny.
Musician and composer, Chris Davies, has created a series of original songs for the magnificent bird puppets, based on the poem itself and influenced by Persian music, the choral stylings of Roomful of Teeth and bird song taken from recordings of the natural world.
(Commissioned on 2021 by Spot On Lancashire in partnership with Fylde Borough Council and the Friends of Fairhaven Lake)
The performance invites audiences to sing together as it culminates; suggesting that we all flock together to overcome differences and celebrate a hope for a unified human race, singing in harmony, in the future.
Puppet Power Artist Feature