Puppet Space at Little Angel Theatre

Delving further into the world of puppetry, a week ago I went along to Puppet Space at Little Angel Theatre, where I met some lovely creative folk and found out about their interesting projects.

Puppet Space is a puppetry gathering that takes place at the Little Angel Studios a few times a year, giving puppeteers and those with an interest in puppetry a chance to network, share and discuss ideas, and eat a lot of biscuits! In an industry where it’s easy to feel like you’re floundering about on your own in a vast ocean, it’s a treat to be in the room with so many of my peers.

The evening started with some time for networking, so I grabbed an orange juice and a biccy and headed towards the nearest group. At an event like this I feel no apprehension when approaching a crowd of new people – we’re all here to meet folk with the same interests as us, so I never feel like I’m imposing on people. I saw a few familiar faces and many new ones, and listened intrigued as one guy told me about a children’s book he’s had published and is interested in adapting into a show with puppetry, while a lady I’d met previously told me about the work she’s been doing with puppetry in schools.

The next part of the evening was a talk by Rachel Warr and Almudena Adalia, who spent a few weeks collaborating with Canadian puppetry practitioners in Montreal. It was fascinating hearing about the puppetry scene over there and the process the company went through to try out new ideas and make work in response to a stimulus, in this case a painting. We were even treated to a live performance of the piece Rachel and Almudena had created, along with a video clip of a piece the company in Montreal had made.

The final bit of the event involved us all sitting in a circle and each introducing ourselves and what we do, and mentioning any projects we’ve got on the go. It was fascinating hearing about everyone’s work and interests. We then had a chance to mingle a bit more and chat to anyone whose specific work piqued our interest.

Little Angel Theatre is a very special place for many people. It’s where I’ve done most of my puppetry training to date, where I’ve met many interesting people, and a place where I’ve always been made to feel welcome. And it’s organising events like Puppet Space, gathering all these creative people together to share ideas and support one another, that makes Little Angel such a key part of the puppetry scene in this country.

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Surviving Actors 2016

A range of workshops and seminars at a decent price, the chance to network with other actors, and a room full of exhibitors including headshot photographers, showreel producers and part-time employers. Yes, I’m talking about Surviving Actors, an event run by actors, for actors.

A few Saturdays ago I headed to the Radisson Blu Hotel near Marble Arch for Surviving Actors London 2016. I went to the event last year while I was still doing my training at East 15 Acting School and found it inspiring and useful, so hoped this year would be too.

I attended seminars on how to think like a casting director, surviving in the theatre, and how to land an on-screen role. All were interesting and insightful, particularly the session with the beautifully honest Brian Astbury and Shane Dempsey. The two spoke the simple truth about a life in the theatre: it’s hard, plain and simple, but it can also be supremely rewarding. Their advice was to the point, their insights on the profession intriguing, and their approach honest and unfaltering. I won’t say brutally honest, because I’m sure all of us in that room understood how challenging it can be to keep going in this industry, so these honest words should have come as no surprise.

Listening to both Brian and Shane speak, rather than feeling deflated about the industry, I felt inspired. They both spoke of the importance of doing your own work – that’s the way to do the work you want to do and care about. This is an ethos that underpins the training at East 15, a school both Brian and Shane have a connection with, so it’s ingrained in my approach to my career and the work itself.

In between seminars I wandered round the exhibitors’ room, chatting with people here and there, picking up a few freebies and buying a few acting books. I was also delighted to bump into some of my fellow E15ers, Madeleine Dunne, Helena Devereux and Vicky Winning. After spending a year training with these guys I miss not seeing them every day!

Like last year, I really enjoyed the event and it was interesting to see how I found it a year on, having finished my training.