Devising & directing for puppet theatre, an interview with Steve Tiplady

We are very excited to be offering you the chance to go behind the rehearsal room door with Little Angel’s Artistic Associate and director of many of our best loved productions, Steve Tiplady. Curious to know what the workshop will cover, I had a chat with Steve about his work, and asked exactly what participants can expect from his ‘Behind Closed Doors’ workshop.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m usually working on half a dozen things at once: at the moment I’m directing a version of Pandora’s Box for Indigo Moon Theatre Co., we (my partner Sally Todd and I) are working on shadows for the Firework Maker’s Daughter to be performed at the Royal Opera House this Christmas, we are developing a new show with clay for and about dementia sufferers at York Theatre Royal for next year and I’m making a set of cow puppets out of shopping trolleys.

Are your shows always devised?

I sometimes start with a script, but I prefer devising as I find it more exciting – I find it a more interesting and challenging process. Sometimes I might treat the script as a starting point for devising – it might be more interesting to jumble things up or tell the story in a different way.

Usually any project starts with some Research & Development time where we will explore ideas and create a structure for the show – sometimes things that are developed in the R&D process end up very solidly in the show – that was definitely the case with The Journey Home, but it doesn’t always work that way.

JourneyHome-008 - CREDIT ELLIE KURTTZ

How closely involved in the design of a piece do you like to be?

I do like to be involved – Sally designed the set and puppets for the Journey Home, so that was great to be able to be on tap for that, but I also really love it when the designer has a very singular vision for the design. It’s a real joy to work with Peter O Rourke because he has such a clear vision for how things should look and he makes really considered design decisions which mean that I can get on with creating the show within the design framework he has created.

What do you find the most challenging aspect of making a new piece of work?

The most challenging thing can often be aligning everyone’s compass – so that the whole creative team reach a collective understanding of what the show should be. Sometimes – quite often in fact – it’s me that has to realign my vision –  hopefully we all reach a consensus on what the show should be saying and how it should look and feel.

JABBERWOCKY011-CREDIT ELLIE KURTTZ

What can participants of your ‘Behind Closed Doors’ course hope to gain by the end of the day?

In the workshop, I’ll take participants through the processes I use when I’m making a show, so we’ll look at what exercises we might do in the R&D period, how to create a structure for a show, and also rehearsal – maybe we’ll get people to come up with something by the end of the day….

The participants can expect to go away with a mental toolkit for how to approach making a piece of puppet theatre and an insight into how I work.

CLICK HERE To book your place on on Steve’s ‘Behind Closed Doors’ course, Sunday 18th October, 10 – 5pm at Little Angel Studios, £45.

Interview by Laura Halliwell, Community & Education Assistant at Little Angel Theatre.

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