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Roll up, roll up for the return of some very special puppets to a Norwich theatre

PUBLISHED: 18:32 31 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:32 31 May 2018

Puppeteers, Nik Palmer and Sarah Rowland-Barker, with the puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, Nik's parents, and are in a show back at the theatre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Puppeteers, Nik Palmer and Sarah Rowland-Barker, with the puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, Nik's parents, and are in a show back at the theatre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Roll up, roll up to see some very special characters make a return to Norwich Puppet Theatre this weekend.

Puppeteers Ray and Joan DaSilva with their DaSilva marionette circus troupe.
Photo: Joe Harper, LondonPuppeteers Ray and Joan DaSilva with their DaSilva marionette circus troupe. Photo: Joe Harper, London

For the ringmaster, lion, acrobats and other puppets that form the cast of The DaSilva Marionette Circus Troupe were actually created many years ago by the founders of Norwich Puppet Theatre, Ray and Joan DaSilva.

Their son Nik Palmer has followed in their footsteps as a puppeteer and - together with fellow puppeteer Sarah Rowland-Barker - he is presenting a second generation of their travelling show which is stopping off at Norwich Puppet Theatre on Saturday.

Mr Palmer, 54, who runs the company Noisy Oyster with Ms Rowland-Barker, said: “The puppets are more than 50 years old - my parents started building them just before I was born and they must have toured the show for a good 40 years.

“They are all the original puppets although they have had a few costume refurbishments - my mum still refurbishes the puppets’ costumes.

Puppeteers Ray and Joan DaSilva with one of their puppets in 1962.
Photo: Lillian Ream, WisbechPuppeteers Ray and Joan DaSilva with one of their puppets in 1962. Photo: Lillian Ream, Wisbech

“There’s about 18 puppets in the show and they are all trick marionettes.”

About how the performance today compares to the original show, Mr Palmer said: “We have changed a few bits from when my parents did the show.

“They did it very straight and were dressed in black whereas we are dressed in costumes and are very much part of the performance.”

He added: “It is one of our most popular shows now and I really love doing it - it is good old-fashioned entertainment.

The puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, and are back at the Theatre for a show. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, and are back at the Theatre for a show. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It is especially popular with this year being the Circus250 celebrations.”

Ray and Joan DaSilva, who now live in Dorset, founded The DaSilva Puppet Company in 1962 and the company toured the world with its shows.

In 1980 they opened Norwich Puppet Theatre and Mr DaSilva was director there until 1986.

“Joan and I are delighted to hear that the marionette circus is returning to Norwich,” said Mr DaSilva.

Puppeteers, Nik Palmer and Sarah Rowland-Barker, with the puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, Nik's parents, and are in a show back at the theatre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPuppeteers, Nik Palmer and Sarah Rowland-Barker, with the puppets Ringmaster Stromboli, and Chalky the Clown, who were made by Puppet Theatre founders, Joan and Ray DaSilva, Nik's parents, and are in a show back at the theatre. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The trick puppets, most of them now in new costumes, are as lively as they always were despite much hard work around the world.”

The DaSilva Marionette Circus Troupe will be at Norwich Puppet Theatre on Saturday at 11am and 2.30pm - visit www.puppettheatre.co.uk or call 01603 629921.


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