Our 2020-2021 puppetry project for further education students and recent graduates in puppetry.

The Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival 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, which takes place in October 2021, we chose to engage with emerging artists and students in further education to present new puppetry work on video, which has been created ‘at home’ during the coronavirus pandemic.

The project mission:

· To identify, support and nurture new young talent

· To provide opportunities to present this work to audiences either live and/or online during the festival in 2021.

The brief:

· To mark the lockdown and life in the pandemic

· To express what the puppets and video-makers wanted to do as soon as the country opened up again.

The films needed to be:

· Original work.

· Celebratory, experimental and/or related to the themes of ‘unlocking’.

· 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.

The judges (lecturers from leading UK puppetry universities and colleges) were hugely impressed by the quality of the work entered and didn’t seem to mind as the shortlist grew! They also generously agreed to mentor the artists for the second part of the project. Once the shortlist was confirmed, entrants were given the opportunity to work with their mentors –, to expand on their films, ready to be screened as part of the 2021 puppetry Festival.

The shortlist:


Zhou Zahoulin

Cuckoo Cuckoo

Claire Jefferson and Paul Jones

Grannies Brownies

Alicia Haines and Harriet Edwards

Life is a dream

Daydream Productions

James Borg Clancy

Life is a dream

Lockdown Daydreamers

Lauren Harvey, Ena Begovic, Molly Jones, Thomas Brooks and Ryan Brett


Mengqiu Xu


Phoebe Hyder

Reborn a DJ

Emily King

Wake up

Megan Crichton, Maria Kleopatra Papoutsaki, Tara Taylor, Grace Clements and Kristiyana Valentinova

The festival would like to extend a huge thank you to the fabulous lecturers in puppetry who gave so freely their time to mentor the artists on their final projects:

· 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,

· Jayne Thompson, Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre, University of Kent

We are delighted to announce that the screening will take place in the Royal Victoria Place Pop In: Pop Up space on Sunday 17 Oct from 2pm. It is lovely to be able to share the work with a live audience, everyone is welcome to attend this free event.

The films will also be available to view via our YouTube channel, here between 17 – 24 October.

The festival is extremely proud of the work produced in response to our call out to students and recent graduates in puppetry. We hope you enjoy viewing the films as much as we have.

Outreach opportunities for puppetry students.

Additional opportunities are available for graduates from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, The University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University and Nottingham Trent University, and year 12 & 13 students from local schools to work with the festival on the following: – 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.