Manipulate live listings

Jan 31 2024 | By More

Visual Theatre Fest runs Feb 1 – 11.

The Manipulate Festival, home of animation, puppetry and visual theatre in Scotland, opens this Thursday, 1 February 2024, running for eleven days, with live performances in three Edinburgh venues.

The key venues for live performance are the Traverse, with the likes of Ragnarök, the pandemic-delayed new production from Edinburgh-based Tortoise in a Nutshell playing there on the closing weekend, the Studio and the Fruitmarket.

Further screenings of animation take place at Summerhall and, for the first time, the French Institute.

Tortoise in a Nutshell, Ragnarok. Pic: Mihaela Bodlovic.

This seventeenth Manipulate festival also marks the 40th year of Manipulate Arts, formerly known as Puppet Animation Scotland, which runs the festival.

Artistic Director and CEO Dawn Taylor said: “As ever our program, this year is a very collaborative effort between lots of people, with lots of ideas. We celebrate and promote animated film, visual theatre and puppetry.

“We choose these art forms in particular because of their incredible ability to communicate ideas beyond words and unveil the latent magic in the every day.”

Shout loud

Speaking of the current difficulties for the arts in general, with very few artists having secured funding for new puppetry and visual theatre projects, Taylor emphasised the issue for puppetry. Although it has been added to the heritage at risk register this year, some artists are in a lengthy battle with HMRC to get puppetry recognised as a performing art.

“It is really tempting at moments like this to hunker down and hang on to what do you have and close off,” she added. “But we think it is a moment to shout loud and to celebrate what we do have, especially knowing the even wider precarity across the world.

Al Seed, Plinth. Pic: Lawrence Winram

“Festivals like this a really good opportunity to come together as a community and appreciate what we do have. It is a good moment to be as open as possible and make sure as many people as possible can experience these art forms which are truly brilliant.”

Addressing the programme itself, Taylor said: |We don’t really try to do themes, but threads start to appear as the program comes together.

“I think it is clear that this year the future is on peoples minds; technology and it’s amazing benefits and then also some of it some of the scary things about that; the climate and our relationship to it and it’s break time; but also the ways in which we watched in which we want to build our society for the future.

“These keep coming back, again and again. We love weighty subjects to chew over at Manipulate, but we are also capable of not taking ourselves too seriously.”


Here are the listings of live performance shows in Manipulate. Further details of the animation strand is on the Manipulate Arts website here.

The three live events venues are:
Fruitmarket, 45 Market Street, EH1 1DF.
The Studio, 22 Potterrow, EH8 9BL.
The Traverse, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED.

The House (Traverse)
Fri 2/Sat 3 Feb 2024
Fri: 6pm; Sat: 1pm (Trav 2)
The story of the Warehouse Family Funeral Home. On her deathbed the undertaker changes her last will and testament, a secret begins to unravel and an evil plan is formed. Sofie Krog and David Faraco’s complex puppet performance takes place in a revolving set featuring intricate lighting, strange contraptions and scary sound effects; the perfect setting for this comically chilling journey. Book here.

Plinth (Traverse)
Fri 2/Sat 3 Feb 2024
Evenings: 8pm (Trav 1).
Renowned visual theatre maker Al Seed presents his latest striking work. A statue stands upon a plinth – a lightning rod for collective memory. Shocked into life, the statue descends into the war zone which surrounds it. Tormented by images of conflict, the statue battles to comprehend the world into which it has been thrust. As awareness grows, a monstrous transformation ensues. Book here.

L’Amour du Risque (Love of Risk) (Fruitmarket)
Sat 3 Feb 2024
Two shows: 3pm, 5pm.
A ballet for robot vacuum cleaners. A man is waiting to be served for a candle-lit dinner accompanied by romantic music. Here, the service is automated and managed by artificial intelligence with somewhat limited capacities. As robot waiters come and go, they create a hypnotic dance, demonstrating both human-like intention and mechanical randomness. Book here.

Last Rites (Studio Theatre)
Sat 3/Sun 4 Feb 2024
Sat: 6pm, Sun 8pm.
An ending. A beginning. A goodbye.  One man has twenty-four hours to perform his father’s funeral rites. This intimate, final ceremony brings to life a rich tapestry of shared memories and a complex relationship cut short by death. A powerful journey of love, loss, and what it means to be a parent. Book here.

Simple Machines (Fruitmarket)
Sun 4 Feb 2024
Three shows: 1pm, 3pm, 6pm.
In this satirical show where performance meets presentation, choreographer Ugo Dehaes demonstrates how he grows organic-looking robots in his basement, raises them and trains them to be dancers.  Book here.

Envahisseurs (Traverse)
Sun 4 Feb 2024
Two shows: 2pm & 5pm (Trav 2).
At the edge of the universe, strange, gelatinous beings are moving towards Earth. Their intentions are still unknown… Will our armies be overcome? Will our world fall apart? And what is this disturbing character, half demigod, half undertaker, creating this story before the awe-struck audience? Book here.

Snapshots (Studio Theatre)
Mon 5 Feb 2024
Evenings: 7pm.
Exciting new visual theatre works from five Scottish artists presented here in the early stages of their development. Work from Sarah Cosgrove, Vee Smith, Mamoru Iriguchi, Craig Manson and Freda O’Bryne, featuring puppetry, object theatre, animated film, physical theatre circus and dance. Book here.

Surge Double Bill (Studio Theatre)
Tue 6 Feb 2024
Evenings: 7pm.
A special double-bill performance of two work-in-progress pieces supported through the Surge Bursary Programme.  HOVER is a duet between human performance artist Althea Young and remote remote-operated drone named DJ. I, Honeypot is inspired by the lived experiences and intersectional identities held by lead artist and creative director Nikhita Devi. Book here.

Tess (Traverse)
Wed 7/Thurs 8 Feb 2024
Evenings: 7pm (Trav 1)
Ockham’s Razor, the UK’s foremost circus theatre company, presents a bold new vision of Hardy’s classic novel, Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Tess uses the original text combined with the physical language of circus, allowing the performers to retell the well-known story of power, loss and endurance through a feminist lens. Book here.

Pickled Republic (Traverse)
Fri 9 Feb 2024
One show: 6pm (Trav 2)
Æ review: ★★★★★ Unique
Welcome to the jar. Here, tragedy floats and the lonely wail of an abandoned tomato cuts through the salty atmosphere. Come hear the lament of lives not lived, watch the chaotic energy of the search for meaning and try to find the connection between these decaying vegetables and your own existence. Book here.

La Conquete (The Conquest) (Studio Theatre)
Fri 9/Sat 10 Feb 2024
Fri: 8pm, Sat: 6pm.
What is the legacy of colonisation in today’s world? Through subtle back-and-forth between past and present, the colonial conquest is dissected, from the discovery and subjugation of a new territory and its indigenous population, to its transformation and exploitation, right up to the discrimination and prejudice of today. Two actresses use object theatre and body puppetry to revisit the eternal human desire for domination, exploitation and possession. Book here.

Ragnarok (Traverse)
Sat 10/Sun 11 Feb 2024
Evenings: 8pm (Trav 1).
A golden age is ending. There have been three years of winter. The sun hangs low in the sky, unmoving, and the bonds of kinship are failing. A young girl and her brother battle forward, seeking a future in a promised land. Two souls in a sea of thousands, they move through a fractured world as dream and reality clash around them. Book here.

Ruins (Studio Theatre)
Sun 11 Feb 2024
Evening: 6pm.
A highly visual dance performance that explores how we can find a way through pain, damage, and isolation, both personally and globally, by focusing on being open to each other, our natural environment and co-evolving with other living entities. Book here.


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