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news letter 2011

Well 2011 turned out to be quite a cultural year... Early in January there was a screening of the short film 'Pinocchio' at Stoke Newington International Airport. It was also screened at the Wychwood Festival (UK) in June and the New Hope Film Festival (US) in July. The Ink Rooms on Lavender Hill was the venue for a gig by Pete Helmer and his band. Beforehand Lesley was invited to perform a set in costume with the film as a backdrop (an apt title for this project might be 'room for improvement'...)

Locally there were lots of parties in and out of the shop. Customers came from as far away as Nepal for a ventriloquist dummy and Belgium for some circus marionettes. Orders were sent to online customers as far away as Spain and Australia. Plenty of word-of-mouth recommendations and re-bookings for siblings' birthday parties. The Punch & Judy season started early with Professor Baguette performing come rain and shine at The Hop Farm in Kent over Easter, then travelling further afield - to some new pastures including Chatham and Leicester, Camden and Kingston but also re-bookings in Tooting, Smallfield, Dorking and Sissinghurst. The end of season was celebrated at the Covent Garden Festival (featured in pics 6, 8, 11, 19 and 20)

Hired puppets graced screen and stage and some even passed their audition and made it to plays at the Edinburgh Festival. Drop-in and off-site workshops proved popular - making puppets is a means of expression particularly engaging for autistic and physically challenged children. A series of Storytelling Circles for adults were held in the shop, with rugs and a rocking chair setting the scene (it initially started as a Storytelling Line, then Triangle and Square as more participants turned up, before finally shaping up as a Circle...) Ellie Gunnery from Pimlico Academy did a Work Placement in the shop and when she left the place was much more friendly, fluffy and fluorescent!

Lesley enjoyed the challenge of lip-synching marionettes for a pilot comedy for Mono TV. In July Zu Studios organised The Enchanted Garden at the Big Chill festival, inviting Puppet Planet to provide a marquee with storytelling and puppet-making. The shop itself was used as a location for a scene in the 'Little Big Planet' video game. Puppet Planet received favourable write-ups online from Families Magazine, Visit London and Global Grasshopper amongst others.