Feature in Issue 14-3 | Autumn 2002

From shadows on the cave wall to stick puppets, ventriloquist's 'lap pals' and clockwork toys – the human fascination with animated objects that appear to have a life of their own is as old as time itself. In this issue of Total Theatre Magazine there is plenty of evidence that the interest is alive and well and shows no sign of abating.

Edward Taylor and Richard Cuming take us on a guided tour of the world of automata – living sculptures which can be found in all sorts of places. Richard shares his experience of working with automata maker Paul Spooner. Edward's article is chock-full of all sorts of facts and fancies as he places automata both as an integral part of popular culture and as part of the tradition of animated theatre. In the reviews section, Mitch Mitchelson muses on this year's Puppet Up! Festival in Blackpool.

There's plenty more in this issue besides puppetry: Anne-Louise Rentell's appraisal of Duckie's Nightbird season of live art/unusual theatre; David Bere's Investigation of the emerging 'Scratch Performance' phenomenon; Helena Thompson's reflection on the use of film in theatre; and an artist's diary from Jess Naish that looks at creating total theatre with young children.

And for people interested in animated theatre in all its forms – from traditional puppetry to new visual media – October means the Visions Festival at Brighton, which brings together installations and visual theatre performances from all over the world. With a companion programme of animated film, exhibitions and the latest Users Guide symposium (see News opposite for more details), this year's festival looks to be the best ever.

We were also delighted to see that the Total Theatre Awards 2002 winners included many examples of visual and animated theatre – from the simple charms of Shona Reppe Puppets through to the sophisticated sceneography of dance-theatre company Nats Nus and the ambitious design of Wishbone's Scapegoat.

Judged by an independent panel and announced in the last week of the Edinburgh Fringe, the list of winners contained fine examples of the diverse range of physical and visual performance that we represent: the extraordinary contemporary circus skills of Company F/Z, promenade celebratory theatre from Theatrium Botanicum, the finely-honed mime skills of Fiat Lux, and the visual and physical virtuosity that is Derevo.

Turn the page for a full report on the Awards and an introduction to all the winning companies – congratulations to you all!

This article in the magazine

Issue 14-3
p. 4