The year 2019 promises to be an exciting one for manipulate Festival. Alongside a thrilling line-up of world-leading theatre and animated films, we will present new work-in-progress from Testroom and Snapshots, and workshops presented by renowned puppeteers and performers. “manipulate is very successful at presenting the initial creative ideas of Scottish-based artists” says our Artistic Director, Simon Hart. “We also programme many full productions – often premieres – made by leading Scottish-based artists and companies such as Al Seed, Melanie Jordan, Vox Motus, Tortoise in a Nutshell, Mele Broomes and Company of Wolves.” But the 12th edition of the festival will also bring a lot of novelty, with various new programming strand and events, such as Rising Voices. “I wanted to create a showcase platform midway between the start of a creative journey of exploration and its end when an artist is ready to present a complete and finished piece of work.


Presenting more substantially finished pieces by Scottish-based performers, Rising Voices will offer a unique and new platform for emerging practitionners developing intriguing and exciting work. “Each of the four dynamic and exciting Scottish-based theatre-makers we have invited to be a part of the Rising Voices series is in the middle or later stages of a process, shaping and refining their artistic ideas and concepts. Each has already made a substantial, intriguing and dynamic piece of work which will give audience members a clear sense of how far they have travelled on their respective creative journeys. Each artist still has a way to go to realise fully the vision they have for their piece. Presenting their work and receiving feedback and support from our audiences will be an important staging post on the way to their final artistic destination.”


Our first instalment of the Rising Voices programming strands will present four exciting new shows, each exploring different aspects and technics of visual theatre and puppetry. NINO, created by Glasgow-based theatre company Tidy Carnage, and long-time manipulate collaborator Melanie Jordan, will be our first Rising Voices show this year. Based on the real-life experience of a single mother of two, NINO explores life in poverty in contemporary Britain through the lens of physical theatre. Using the narrative and performative tools of object manipulation and physical kinetic theatre, performer Fiona Oliver-Larkin presents SALT. A solo performance set in the kitchen, SALT will explore the realities of domestic violence through the mundanity of everyday objects. On the same evening, Kasia Zawadzka 99+ is a powerful journey of darkness towards hope, dramatized through physicality, slow-motion movement, Shibari rope work, ambient music and art installation. Our last Rising Voices show is an outstanding new piece of hand puppetry by company Hopeful Monster, TRANSMOGRAPHILES is the surreal journey of an imaginary animal evolution. manipulate will be the opportunity for these four acts to present their work in progress to new audiences, benefitting from both the experience of a live performance, and the public’s feedbacks.


“I hope our audiences will enjoy these insights into the creative processes of four gifted theatre-makers based in Scotland. These artists are still making their way, forging their creative identities and profiles.” Simon continues “Presenting their pieces in front of supportive, engaged audiences is a valuable opportunity to see how people will respond, and to ask questions and receive useful responses about the content and style of their work which will then inform its further development.


So how does Simon see Rising Voices evolve after this year? “I would like Rising Voices to become a valued part of manipulate so that we can offer Scottish-based theatre-makers and artists a variety of different ways in which they can share their work successfully and appropriately with our audiences. My ideal is that, over a few years, we might see the complete evolution of an artist’s creativity, from initial ideas and concepts in Snapshots and/or Testroom, to substantial working-out of key elements in Rising Voices, to the performance of a full production in our theatre programme.”


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