"I Lemeul Gulliver give thee a most faithful history of my most interesting adventure in the south sea!"
Later this week a new theatrical production begins of that enduringly-popular classic story, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. I spoke to Irish Times Irish Theatre Award nominee Emma Fisher, the set and puppets designer for the play.
I wanted to ask Emma a bit about herself and her background, and of course about the play. Emma was fascinating to talk to, because she's so clearly enthusiastic about what she's doing. I guess you don't go to study in the London School of Puppetry unless you're very committed to the art of puppetry.
I love the story-telling aspect of puppetry, as well as how visual it is.
Do you have a company or brandname you normally use?
Beyond the Bark
Role in this production of Gulliver's Travels?
Set production, making the puppets and providing advice.
[DC: Normally Emma would also be involved in the puppeteering, but not this time - "I had to hand over my puppets to other people!"]
Types of puppets used in the play
Marionettes, rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets.
Do you have a blog?
Is there a book or film you'd recommend - something everyone should see/read?
[DC: It's a 2009 French film from the director who made Amélie]
I also asked Emma how she decided on the look to aim for with the puppets. The puppets have to fit in with the rest of the production, so the same costume designers actually created both the actors' costumes and the puppets' costumes.
Although the play is suitable for kids (8+), I'm looking forward to seeing it. Even aside from enjoying the play itself it should be interesting to see how the technical aspects of the production work, and in particular the puppet/actor interaction. Emma confirmed that Gulliver is, as I'd hoped, played by both an actor and a puppet. I have no idea why I'm so pleased by that, but I am.
Gulliver's Travels opens in Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray on Wednesday 15th December and continues through to 18th December. The play then runs in Smock Alley Theatre from 3rd January to 21st January 2011, followed by several venues in the rest of the country.
Photographs courtesy of Stephen Delaney and Caoileann Abbleby