First question – why puppetry?
Puppetry is able to express the aspects and shadows of humanity that the human isn’t able to. It’s a whole new level of engagement for both the audience and the performer, and it’s great to see that the idea that puppetry can be for adults is becoming more commonplace.
I first fell in love with it because I guess I found something in puppetry that I wasn’t able to put into words.
I think puppetry gives me a whole lot, but maybe humility firstly… It’s not about you and your ego, it’s about the puppet and using that to communicate something to the audience. So I guess the most important things for a puppeteer to be are humble, curious and playful.
How did you get started?
I got into puppetry completely by accident. I first studied Performing Arts at The University of Salford and then moved down to London to take the Masters Degree in Acting at East 15 Acting School. (I tried to go to East 15 for my first degree, they told me to come back when I was older, so I did).
I wanted to be a straight ‘classical’ theatre actor and had never even thought about Puppetry. Then my first job out of Drama School was a national tour with Children’s Theatre.. And puppets. I was hooked instantly.
What advice would you give your younger self and other young performers?
And I think that the advice that I would give to my younger self and those starting out is keep an open mind, about what you want to do and where it can lead you.
The most useful thing that I think I’ve learnt is that the audience is the most important thing, and that connection with them. If you don’t connect with your audience somehow, then you’ve lost them, completely.
What’s the weirdest skill on your CV?
Weirdest skill? Wow, well… Puppeteering a five foot naked bunraku puppet in the Amsterdam Red Light District is probably the most recent one I’ve mastered…
Where do your onstage characters come from?
The process always has to start with the basic principles of Puppetry, I guess, and that can be with a whole company of people or just you on your own, working ideas through. A puppet can’t perform unless it can live, so picking a new puppet up for the first time always means taking it slowly through these basics, so you can find its abilities and limitations. Most of the time, a puppets limitations add as much to the character and performance of the puppet as its abilities do, so they’re not to be dismissed as a failing of the build of the puppet.
What’s your advice/message for a first time audience?
Come with a curious mind, be prepared to be engaged, and possibly pushed past your comfort zone.
Which other artist would you most like to collaborate with?
I’m a huge fan of such troupes as Les Enfants Terrible and Familia de la Noche, I really admire their asthetic and dramatic style and their incorporation of different devices. the writing is always fantastic too. I’d love to work with both companies one day.
And if you weren’t a puppeteer/performer…?
If I wasn’t a puppeteer/performer I don’t know what I’d be.
I’m a very practical person, I love making things and I love languages, so maybe something like a silversmith, or a linguist…. Or a spy.
Kim is running the Puppeteering Workshop at Finger in the Pie on 11th October.