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Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival features Moomins, Lost Dog and workshops and shows for the whole family

From marionettes to magpies and lost dogs, puppets of all shapes and sizes are set to come alive at this weekend’s Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival.

The festival, which runs from Friday, October 11 to Sunday, October 13, has already featured Punch and Judy-style booths built by Sherwood Men’s Shed members, for locals to get into the spirit by creating their own puppet shows.

Get Lost and Found Moomin Valley
Get Lost and Found Moomin Valley

It is the third time the town has welcomed puppeteers and their creations from all over the world. The three-day programme features acclaimed puppetry from Spain, Italy and Poland, as well as across the UK, with live performances and activities, many of which are free, using a diverse range of puppetry styles and techniques.

Animal abandonment and homelessness will be highlighted by a graffitied shanty dog house in the gardens of Trinity Theatre. The Lost Dog puppetry play from young Spanish theatre company Cal y Canto that has been a huge hit across Europe and comes to the UK for the first time.

The thought-provoking story is told by actors from the perspective of a wandering, abandoned dog, and is for audiences of up to 50 people who can experience life on the streets through the dog’s eyes.

It features a lifelike puppet dog and will be performed on Saturday, October 12 at 10m, noon and 3pm and on Sunday, October 13 at 11am and 2pm.

Lost Dog Picture: Julio Cesar
Lost Dog Picture: Julio Cesar

“Puppets can be extremely effective at getting across serious messages and the puppet in Lost Dog is incredibly lifelike,” said festival director Linda Lewis.

“With no text, this is a universally watchable play. The show premiered in Spain in 2015 and will be shown for the first time at our festival, so we’re very excited to have it as part of our line-up."

Visitors will be able to meet the puppeteer who uses only his hands to tell the story of his mother’s life; the feathered friends running the Sweethearts’ Tea Shop and a magician with illusions.

Mischief and mystery run amok in Moomin Valley, with Get Lost and Found: Mischief and Mysteries in Moominvalley on Saturday, October 12 with a colourful retelling of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark as well as giant puppets, at the Camden Centre at 1.30pm.

On Saturday, October 12, you can see Seb Mayer: Don Quixote at the Millennium Clock between 2.40pm and 3.05pm with his huge humanoid puppets on walkabout. On Sunday, October 13, you can encounter two giant magpie puppets in their rickety, ramshackle nests in The Pantiles between 1pm and 1.30pm.

Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival
Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival

On Friday, October 11 at the Camden Centre, Spanish theatre company Cal y Canto: A-TA-KA! wants young people from eight to 14 to make an aerial animal sculpture - and then perform alongside the players at 7.30pm. You need to book ahead, with tickets costing £6.

Di Filippo Marionette: Appeso ad Un Filo (Hanging by a Thread) will be staged at The Forum on Sunday, October 13 from 8pm, and features duo Remo Di Filippo and Rhoda Lopez with their marionette puppets. The award-winning production will be the festival finale with tickets at £20 including an Italian supper.

To book tickets, starting at £3, visit twpuppetryfestival.org. The outdoor shows and street theatre on The Pantiles and at the Millennium Clock are free.

To find out what’s going on in the county and for all the latest entertainment news click here.

Lost Dog coming to Tunbridge Wells Picture: Julio Cesar
Lost Dog coming to Tunbridge Wells Picture: Julio Cesar

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