Introduction to ‘Unlocked’ – a puppetry video project

The Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival, created in 2014, is a family-friendly biennial festival of world-class puppetry and theatre for the people of Tunbridge Wells and the South East. Our aim is to introduce puppet theatre and animation to local audiences, with a focus on bringing the community together through shared enjoyment of live performance.

In the run-up to the fourth festival, in October 2021, we are keen to offer opportunities to recent arts graduates to present puppetry work on video which has been created ‘at home’ during the coronavirus pandemic.



We have designed a two-part project, ‘Unlocked’. To mark the lockdown and life in the pandemic, the festival is putting out a call for puppetry videos which express what the puppets and video-makers want to do as soon as they can get out.

The second part of the project, following selection of the most promising puppetry work, would, subject to available funding, enable us to offer an opportunity for the selected artists to create and present their work live to audiences in Tunbridge Wells in 2021. Expenses will be paid if funding is available.

Mission of the project:

The festival wishes to:

  • Identify, support and nurture new, emerging young talent
  • Provide opportunities to present the work to audiences either online or in person during the Festival in 2021

What the recommended chosen artists will receive:

Presentation of the work at the festival in 2021 and an opportunity to share the work on social media channels.

These videos should be

  • Original work
  • Celebratory, experimental or related to the themes of ‘unlocking’
  • Initially no more than 10 minutes in length
  • Use puppetry in the widest sense of the art form – e.g. shadow, rod puppets, bunraku, glove, object theatre and animation of materials – to tell their stories


Target participants:

  • University students
  • Drama school students
  • Recent graduates (not more than three years out of university or full-time college education)
  • Emerging professionals- within 3 years of starting out
  • An additional category will be available for 6th form students and recent school leavers in the Tunbridge Wells and West Kent area


6th Form, Tunbridge Wells, West Kent young artists’ category:


This entry category will support any aspiring performing artists currently in the 6th form studying art, drama or film who would like to showcase their creative interest in puppetry.  The work should be up to  10 minutes long and use puppetry in the widest sense of the art form – e.g. shadow, rod puppets, bunraku, glove, object theatre and animation of materials – to tell stories and experiences of lockdown and 2020.


A successful entry in this category will be shared on social media channels under the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival banner and given access to the wider network of the Festival and potentially the opportunity of a live performance at the Festival in 2021.

Mentoring by the Director of the Puppetry Festival will be available for those artists who are selected.


This opportunity will be invaluable to any keen student working on developing their portfolio and contacts in the world of puppetry.


Who will make the recommendations?

The Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival will work in collaboration with


  • Cariad Astles, Course Leader, Puppetry Design and Performance at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (London University)
  • Dr Kasia Lech, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts, School of Creative Arts and Industries, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Sean Myatt, Senior Lecturer, School of Arts and Design, Nottingham Trent University
  • Shaun May, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre, University of Kent
  • Linda Lewis, Director of Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival


Closing Date:  30 November 2020

Videos should be emailed to info@twpuppetryfestival.org with the name, phone number and address of the artist, accompanied by a short paragraph of no more than 1,000 characters, including spaces, to explain their choice of puppetry, materials and storyline.


Additional opportunities will be available (if the festival can take place physically) for graduates from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, The University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and Nottingham Trent University, and local sixth forms to work with the festival on the following:


  • Design of video presentations
  • Work experience with the festival in the outdoor arts production
  • Marketing and social media
  • Front of house and ushering
  • Artist liaison


Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival CIC is a not-for-profit organisation committed to equal opportunities, and welcomes work from all sectors of the community.