Puppet theatre fights back with new production

Kim BriscoeMore than two years ago Norfolk's puppet theatre lost the funding it needed to create its own homegrown cutting edge shows.Now after a successful fight to survive, Norwich Puppet Theatre has clawed its way back and todayopens its first of two brand new productions.Kim Briscoe

More than two years ago Norfolk's puppet theatre lost the funding it needed to create its own homegrown cutting edge shows.

Now after a successful fight to survive, Norwich Puppet Theatre has clawed its way back and todayopens its first of two brand new productions.

The Chalk Giants takes two traditional English folk tales, Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer, as a starting point for a captivating new story told using chalk, puppetry, poetry, music and film.

The epic tale begins in the present with a film of puppeteers Sally Brown and Steve Tiplady and musician Jonathan Lambert on a nature walk at Hunstanton as they invite the audience to come with them on a tour through the ancient landscape of England along the chalk escarpment which traverses southern England.


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The production, funded by an Arts Council England Grant through the National Lottery, uses film shot at significant sites along to tell parts of the story and to bring the landscape to life.

A collaboration between the Whitefriars venue and Indefinite Articles, who are puppeteers Sally and Steve, it has been inspired by chalk.

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They said: 'We take materials as the starting point for telling a story. In the past, we have used clay, string, oil and dust.

'This time we were inspired to use chalk because it offered us the exciting potential to explore ideas about markmaking and the use of the drawn line for dramatic expression.'

The Chalk Giants begins with the creation of Jack, a puppet drawn in chalk which magically comes to life, and the discovery of some beans that are, of course, also made from chalk. At first, this appears to be the familiar tale of Jack and the Bean Stalk but soon it becomes apparent that there is a twist to the tale. Jack kills Blunderbog Cormoran, the giant at the top of the beanstalk, and begins a quest to rid England of giants. A fun, fast and furious tale ensues with Jack slaying giants across the land. However, is Jack the hero of the day? Blunderbog's distraught wife and a wonderfully sensitive narrative leave the audience to decide.

Nic Hopkins, chairman of the trustees at the theatre, said the production marked the beginning of a new chapter at the venue, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

He said: 'Our vision is to produce once more, high quality puppetry productions for regional audiences to enjoy. This will re-establish Norwich on the map as a centre for puppetry excellence - The Chalk Giants is our first step along this road.

'We hope people will support our latest venture and come along to see The Chalk Giants this summer.'

The Chalk Giants will also show at the Edinburgh Festival in August as part of the East to Edinburgh scheme. It goes on tour to schools and other venues across the East this autumn.

The Chalk Giants will be showing at 2.30pm on the following days:

Saturday, July 24

Sunday, July 25

Friday, July 30

Saturday, July 31

Tuesday, August 3.

Tickets, which cost �7 for adults, �5 for children, �5.50 for concessions or �20 for a family ticket, are available from the box office on 01603 629921 or online at www.puppettheatre.co.uk.

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