Animation Online Blog

'The Dong with the Luminous Nose'. Copyright Stever Tanner / Peter O'Rourke.

Developing 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose'

Sunday 22 February

Peter O'Rouke introduces a new project to bring Edward Lear's poem to life, and invites you to learn more about the team's creative process.

Devising 'Innocence and Experience'

Puppetry devised pseudo-opera

Friday 5 September

Joni-Rae and Roxana met through Puppet Centre workshops in 2012, first during 'Puppetry in Opera' and then ‘Directing for Puppetry’. They're now working together on an intriguing puppetry and opera project. Here they tell all.

The Kidz Field at Glastonbury 2014

Glastonbury Festival – part two

Tuesday 15 July

Always much more than a music festival, Glastonbury 2014 saw puppetry edge in on the main attractions. Sian Kidd and Mikey Brett helped animate Aurora, run workshops and checked out the other puppet acts on offer. Here’s Mikey’s story.

Aurora and festival founder Michael Eavis at Glastonbury 2014

Glastonbury Festival – part one

Monday 14 July

Always much more than a music festival, Glastonbury 2014 saw puppetry edge in on the main attractions. Sian Kidd and Mikey Brett helped to animate an enormous old friend and ran puppetry workshops. Here’s Sian’s story.

Mestre Calú

Exploring Mamulengo – part three

Monday 10 March

The final instalment of Nina's travel blog about her trip to Brazil to discover more about Mamulengo. Here she travels to Vicência and onto São Paolo.

Mamulingiero Ze Lopes at home with his puppets, daughter and grandchild

Exploring Mamulengo – part two

Tuesday 25 February

During her research trip to Brazil, Nina met a Mamulingiero called Ze Lopes. Here she quizzes him about his long career as a puppeteer.

Mamulengo puppets

Exploring Mamulengo – part one

Wednesday 19 February

Nina Gebauer's fascination with Mamulengo has grown, to the point where she heads off to Brazil to find out more. Over three blogs, she reveals all about the country's most traditional and popular form of puppetry.

Clown puppet by Nick Rayburn

Writing for puppetry – part two

Tuesday 10 December

Over two blog entries, Beth Crane reflects on a unique opportunity to cast technology aside and focus purely on writing for puppetry for an entire week.

Writing for puppetry Arvon residential at Totleigh Barton

Writing for puppetry – part one

Thursday 5 December

Over two blog entries, Beth Crane reflects on a unique opportunity to cast technology aside and focus purely on writing for puppetry for an entire week.

Boris and Sergey wish you a merry Christmas and an explosive new year

Boris and Sergey's Christmas message

Tuesday 3 December

Another shameless plug wrapped up in a Christmas greeting, Boris from the infamous duo shares some tall tales about freezer fires, pet turkeys and enriching uranium ahead of a festive show at Theatre 503.

Les Hommes Vides

'Les Hommes Vides' – Invisible Thread

Sunday 1 December

Participants of Critical Voices – Suspense Festival Special were invited to contribute articles to the Animations Online blog. Here Alexander Winfield reviews 'Les Hommes Vide' by Invisible Thread, which played at the Rosemary Branch Theatre.

'The Fantasist' - Theatre Temoin

'The Fantasist' – Theatre Temoin

Wednesday 27 November

Participants of Critical Voices – Suspense Festival Special were invited to contribute articles to the Animations Online blog. Here Jo Tomkins reviews 'The Fantasist' by Theatre Temoin, which played at the Tristan Bates Theatre.

'Macbeth' – Little Angel Theatre

'Macbeth' – Little Angel Theatre

Thursday 14 November

Participants of Critical Voices – Suspense Festival Special were invited to contribute articles to the Animations Online blog. Here Iku Masunari (research student with Japan UNIMA) reviews 'Macbeth' at The Little Angel Theatre.

'The Engineer's Thumb' – Dotted Line Theatre

'The Engineer's Thumb' – Dotted Line Theatre

Sunday 3 November

Participants of Critical Voices – Suspense Festival Special were invited to contribute articles to the Animations Online blog. Here Beth Crane reviews 'The Engineer's Thumb' by Dotted Line Theatre, which played at the New Diorama Theatre.

'Shop of Little Horrors' – Pickled Image

'The Shop of Little Horrors' – Pickled Image

Sunday 3 November

Participants of Critical Voices – Suspense Festival Special were invited to contribute articles to the Animations Online blog. Here Beth Crane reviews 'The Shop of Little Horrors' by Pickled Image, which played at the Pleasance Islington.

'Shop of Little Horrors' – Pickled Image

A Dummy Run – between the familiar and the unknown

Thursday 31 October

It's Halloween – the perfect excuse for our would-be ventriloquist to ponder the role puppets, particularly ventriloquists' dummies, play in the horror genre.

Aurora and Big Ben

Aurora is coming – part five

Wednesday 2 October

Aurora's big day arrives at last... I took a minute to take in the view from the portholes in Aurora’s rear. It was incredible. Thousands of people getting behind Aurora in every sense. Some brandishing puppets, others in fancy dress and loads of placards.


Puppetry BA

The most unusual degree in the world

Wednesday 18 September

Telling people she did her degree in puppetry is always a delight for Joanna Hruby – it's got to be one of the most unusual BAs you can do. Here, she explains what her three years at Central School of Speech and Drama were like, and what happened next.

Aurora rehearsals

Aurora is coming – part four

Monday 9 September

It’s been three and a half weeks since my journey with Aurora began and we are now putting this incredible piece of art to the test with three days of intensive rehearsal.

Hello Aurora

Aurora is coming – part three

Sunday 1 September

Aurora's characterful face has been fleshed out with foam and made to look like aged wood. More foam has been added to her legs, and canvas attached to her frame. Work is still taking place to distress her exterior but she's already looking far older than her tender three weeks.

Aurora 02

Aurora is coming – part two

Wednesday 21 August

It was all systems go in the workshop when we arrived. I couldn’t believe how much Aurora had changed in a week. They grow up quick! As the day went on it became increasingly clear that a head honcho puppeteer was needed. Someone experienced in operating a large puppet and able to co-ordinate the other puppeteers.

Constructing Aurora

Aurora is coming – part one

Wednesday 14 August

It’s not every day the opportunity to help create a giant polar bear puppet the size of a double decker bus comes along. For an actor, theatre maker and wannabe puppeteer this is pretty irresistible stuff. But that’s not what’s at the heart of Aurora; that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

Incubate experiments

Permission to play

Tuesday 13 August

Despite developing my craft and making work with companies for the past two years, I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m still somewhat of a novice. Taking part in INCUBATE felt like the first step on the long, treacherous road to developing something of my own from scratch (whatever it decides it wants to be!).

Directing for Puppetry workshop

Directing for Puppetry workshop

Tuesday 9 July

Emerging puppeteer Joni-Rae Carrack is on a mission to gain new skills. Earlier this month she got the chance to work with Handspring director Mervyn Millar, during a Directing for Puppetry workshop. Here's what it was like.

Paper Cinema's second day at Mayfest

Paper Cinema at Mayfest – Day Two

Thursday 23 May

We're jamming... and borrowing the Aardman Animations photocopier. All in a day's work on 'West'.

Paper Cinema's first day at Mayfest

Paper Cinema at Mayfest – Day One

Wednesday 22 May

Here are a few snaps from the first day of our residency working on 'West'. Most of the day was spent drawing and thinking about our story.

The festival flag flies over Bristol

Paper Cinema at Mayfest – And So It Begins...

Sunday 19 May

Yesterday, as part of the research for 'West' (which we start work on tomorrow!), Chris spent the morning hanging out with field recording expert Ollie Hall of Binaural Diaries making a few recordings around the harbour.

'West' – Paper Cinema

Paper Cinema at Mayfest – Go West

Wednesday 8 May

The Paper Cinema are in residence at Bristol's contemporary theatre festival Mayfest this year and will be keeping a blog about their adventures for Animations Online throughout. In their first post the company introduce the team of animators and artists they'll be collaborating with.

Gottle of geer

A Dummy Run – gottle of geer

Friday 15 March

Helen gets her tongue twisted around some of the most difficult words that ventriloquists have to tackle.

Helen and Pepito practise voices

A Dummy Run – silent majority

Friday 1 March

Helen has been experimenting with her vent puppet Pepito's voice, and learning about his personality in the process.

Dummy run 02

A Dummy Run – new lease of life

Thursday 24 January

In the second part of her diary about becoming a ventriloquist, Helen Jauregui considers the tiny movements that make us alive and how she can imbue her puppet with realistic life.

Reasearch and development week for 'Neverwhere'

Neverwhere - The best laid plans

Wednesday 23 January

Louise shares some good and bad news about 'Neverwhere', the play she hopes to stage later this year. Despite things being in limbo at the moment, she can reflect back on a brilliantly creative week of research and development.

Dummy run

A Dummy Run – bronze beginnings

Tuesday 1 January

Helen Jauregui is learning to be a ventriloquist, and has promised to keep a diary for us about the trials and tribulations. In part one, she discusses stand-up comedy and the fact that it's no mean feat to do it with one hand up the darker end of a puppet.

'Too Much Too Normal'

Nuffield Theatre Residency – 'Too Much Too Normal'

Friday 21 December

The first part of Isobel Smith's diary of her puppetry residency at The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton. Here she reports back on an intriguing object theatre intervention in a city department store.

Boris and Sergey celebrate Christmas

Boris and Sergey's festive adventures

Tuesday 11 December

Back on the London stage and looking forward to Christmas, the ever irreverent and now poverty stricken Boris and Sergey reflect on the year past and the one to come, while shamelessly plugging their upcoming run at the Soho Theatre.

The Empress's Feet

Puppetry in Opera - performance

Wednesday 21 November

Patricia Brennan reflects on the final rehearsals of ‘The Empress’s Feet’ and ‘King Harald’s Saga’, and their public performances in the Barbican Pit. Both plays were a great finale to a day of illustrated talks exploring the links between puppetry and opera.

Neverwhere 001

Neverwhere - it started with a graphic novel

Monday 8 October

Louise Alexander - actor, dancer, singer and now blogger - charts the process of staging a production of 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman, from moment of inspiration to curtain-up.

Tall ship in Salerno Marina

Tall Ship Tour – Part Four

Thursday 4 October

The show is a political spectacular. The central theme is the economic crisis and a story unfolds around pirates stealing gold from some bankers. So performing it to an audience of bankers meant the controversy was as sweet as ever.

Puppet heads 02

Puppetry in opera - work in progress

Wednesday 26 September

Each group was invited to offer an insight into the experimentation they’d been carrying out. The presentations were very different, which only emphasised the range of possibilities on offer when these two forms are combined.

Puppetry in opera workshop 01

Puppetry in opera – movement and voice

Monday 17 September

Rehearsals so far have been a productive mix of play and collaboration, generating many ideas around the movement of the puppets and the voices we give to them. It is proving to be a truly collaborative and developmental process.

Puppetry in opera - artists and directors

Puppetry in opera – play and collaboration

Tuesday 11 September

A group of puppeteers and singers are creating brand new performances for the ‘Puppetry in opera’ event in November and rehearsals have just begun. The main focus so far has been on play in the room, and in the moment, and the collaboration between two seemingly very different art forms.

Isabel Lyster 01

Tall Ship Tour – Part Three

Friday 7 September

I regularly spend time sitting in the aerial truss, while untangling marionette strings and checking joints. The strings of the puppets inevitably wear out and snap while being pulled vigorously from 12ft behind, so they are always a work in progress.


Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Seven

Wednesday 5 September

In the final part of their outrageous Fringe diary, Sergey describes crushing Edinburgh beneath his heels and leaving her begging for more as he and Boris return to London. The trail of fag ends, empty bottles of booze and soiled bedding are testament to that.

Puppets on deck

Tall Ship Tour – Part Two

Sunday 19 August

Being stranded in port is a catalyst for many things. As the heat rises, frustration grows, alcohol is guzzled and romance flourishes. Working between the hours of midday heat, I'm staying busy with puppet surgery.

Boris drinking in the bar

Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Six

Wednesday 15 August

My new best friend is Ike from the Girl With No Heart. Me and him have been out lots, raising hell. Last night we crashed the Seasame Street halfway party and spiked the punch. I'm not proud of what we did. What happens in Edinburgh, stays in Edinburgh.

Boris points to his name on the board

Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Five

Friday 10 August

We are a huge hit on the Mile and in the courtyard. We’ve created a Boris and Sergey army of stalwart supporters that scream in ecstasy as we pass by. I eagerly await the undoubted attention of the international media.

Boris dancing

Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Four

Wednesday 8 August

Here we are in Edwin's Borough, birthplace of the French revolution and home of the world’s smallest pencil factory. So far I've found that this city is populated by nice people, who don't speak English and aren't allowed to eat healthy food.

Boris and Sergey duelling

Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Three

Friday 3 August

Swallowing my rage - and locking it away for future use - we went to a local bar, drank ourselves into a stupor, stumbled to the courtyard, located a suitable cardboard box and passed out... Tonight we open!

Top of the tall ship's mast

Tall Ship Tour – Part One

Friday 3 August

Puppeteer Isabel Lyster is currently touring around Italy and Tunisia on a tall ship with theatre company Caravan Stage and their large-scale puppets. She’s keeping a sea-salty diary of her adventures on the high seas for Animations Online.


Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part Two

Wednesday 1 August

'Sergei' said I had to do 'stuff' to 'prepare' for my bit in the big show that's happening in Scottish land. In a magical place called 'Edwinburgh'. Apparently it’s a big festival where poor people perform for the amusement of others, and don't get paid.


Boris and Sergey's Fringe Diary - Part One

Friday 27 July

So here we are. Two vagabond rogues preparing to make our fortune in Edinburgh and smash the Fringe into little tiny pieces. There is one week before our first performance at the Pleasance Courtyard and we have been rehearsing relentlessly!