manipulate announces its 2019 programme

Scotland's celebrated festival of theatre, puppetry and animation returns, bringing with it a wide-ranging programme of innovative, international work to Edinburgh

Article by Jamie Dunn | 08 Nov 2018

This February, Puppet Animation Scotland's manipulate festival returns with another innovative line-up of award-winning visual theatre, puppetry and animated films. You’ll find 23 performances, 21 works-in-progress and 21 animations from 26 countries in the 2019 programme, alongside three workshops and a day-long industry-focused seminar exploring the future of theatre-arts which should prove invaluable for people working in the sector.

Among the potential theatre highlights is The Paper Cinema’s reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Using their trademark DIY aesthetic, “Paper Cinema create a cautionary tale for our time,” says manipulate, with a show that combines and unifies the languages of animation, live music, film and theatre in a unique way. Their innovative approach is to take intricate pen and ink illustrations and skilfully manipulate them in front of a live video camera, projecting the resulting performance on to the big screen (7 Feb, Traverse Theatre; 8 Feb, Perth Theatre).

Another classic being reinterpreted is Sleeping Beauty. Created and performed by Company Akselere’s Artistic Director Colette Garrigan, this is very much a story for grown-ups. “Creating a unique and threatening realm of objects and imaginative lighting, Garrigan integrates her Liverpudlian voice with her adopted French tongue to describe a dangerous world where the blackest of humour co-exists with poetic stillness and insights,” says manipulate. (8 Feb, Traverse Theatre, 9 Feb, Perth Theatre)

Another highlight looks to be the return of Void, a retelling of JG Ballard’s cult novel Concrete Island reimagined through the lens of a black female protagonist (performed by Mele Broomes, who’s also the choreographer) and staged as a meshing of experimental dance against abstract, glitching video landscapes (6 Feb, Traverse Theatre). Absurd visual comedy abounds in Intronauts, which takes inspiration from graphic novels and classic sci-fi movies to take audiences on a wild trip – manipulate calls it “an intoxicating inner body experience that is out of this world.” (5 Feb, Traverse Theatre)

There’s also Beguiled, from English company Invisible Thread, which takes the form of a pair of intimate one-act tabletop puppetry pieces. First is Catmother, a creepy Victorian children’s story told in the experimental, toy theatre style, complete with a live double bass score. There’s also slapstick puppetry and object theatre performance Les Hommes Vides, which features, we’re told, “scenes of death-defying plank action, existential angst, poetry and prizes.” (8 Feb, Traverse Theatre)

Coulrophobia sufferers, meanwhile, should steer clear of Clown Cabaret, described as a “daft evening with some of Scotland’s finest clowns,” where the jokers will “unleash their wild and wonderful dreams and fantasies.” (9 Feb, Traverse Theatre)

In addition, manipulate includes a programme of dynamic new short animated films, and there are also a number of events and workshops to get your teeth into. Animator Will Becher will fill audiences in on his career with Aardman Animation with an illustrated talk that includes footage and puppets from the company’s latest feature film, Early Man. Images & Words is a double bill of events that include a film by multi award-winning animator Ainslie Henderson and a unique collaboration between Femmes Film Curators Collective and Hail of Bright Stones, which explores the work of the University of Edinburgh’s scientific film pioneer Eric Lucey. In addition, Cinemaattic present a mini-retrospective of South American animator Carlos Santa.

There are also workshops from Curious School of Puppetry’s Sarah Wright and writer Anna Maria Murphy; Frank Soehnle and Alice Therese Gottschalk from Figurentheater Tuebeingen; and leading Belgian dancer and performance artist Sabine Molenaar, who returns to manipulate with a intensive two-day workshop designed for experienced dancers that will feature “experimenting with the improvisational and compositional tools and techniques to release creative originality.”

For the full manipulate line-up, head to

2-9 Feb, Traverse Theatre and other venues