Handprint Theatre

A peek into the world of the sometimes crazy, but mostly lovely Handprint Theatre

Category: Puppetry

Happy Monday Soapy Sam!

by Liz Ward

Happy Monday! We hope you’re either outside enjoying the sunshine or inside with a fan or the air-con on full blast.

A while back, I wrote a review of Handprint Theatre’s Soapy Sam, when it was performed at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon last year. It was the first time I had seen it and I fell in love with the ball of cute that is Soapy Sam! I hope you enjoy reading the review…

A Flight of Imaginative Fantasy

By Lizzie Ward

Handprint Theatre are a brilliant and accessible new theatre company, using a combination of physical theatre, BSL (British Sign SS27Language), puppetry and the talented array of performers and artists in their stable to create performances that strive towards a new vision of inclusive theatre. They create both performances aimed at adult audiences and they also run workshops and produce plays for children.

Soapy Sam is the adorable little puppet boy who hates bath time and loves to have interesting adventures – often down the plughole! There he meets an array of imaginative and colourful characters – some stranger than others. This weird and wonderful tale of a smelly little boy who will do anything to escape being scrubbed by soap delighted and charmed the little (and big) children in the audience, not least those of us who love imaginative flights of fantasy.

Marian Hoddy, Lucy O’Keeffe and Laura Goulden (also of SignDance Collective) bring this story alive using mime, physical theatre, expressions and puppetry. Their expressions are absolutely brilliant, conveying the highs and lows of Sam’s adventures below the plughole. The puppets are entire characters in their own right – the movements the cast use to bring the puppets alive are spot on. The performance made me wish I could have brought along some of the little kids I know so I could see their reactions and enjoy the puppet making workshop after the performance!

The scenery and set enhances the story – just sparse enough for the audience to imagine, yet also adding to the story. For example,SS4 when Soapy Sam eventually escapes the soapy underworld, the use of shadow puppetry was inspired. Dwayne Drain was also a fearsome character with huge eyes that gave me some nostalgia for a certain drum playing puppet on a certain TV show…

The show also balanced performance with audience participation, ensuring that children (and adults of course!) will feel connected to the story. Handprint truly are an inclusive company, and I for one can’t wait to see more of what they have to offer.

The Sunday performance is followed by a workshop – where children can create something inspired by Soapy Sam’s adventures. They also have a new book out – so that you can take the Soapy Sam story home. It is beautifully illustrated and brought to life by the talent of Alex Bennett, a professional illustrator!

Photography by Sarah Ward.

Happy Monday

by handprinttheatreblog

Another Bank Holiday Monday, and another sunshine-filled day! So…you guessed it…another very Happy Monday!

With the summer fast approaching, we’re looking forward to a summer full of fun events and performances. More to come on all of these adventures soon! How lovely it has been, though, that the weather here in London has finally become warmer – and sunnier. We’ve been loving it – hope you all have too!

What are you looking forward to this summer? What’s on your agenda?

The Handprint Team are excited to be travelling down to Exeter in June, with a reworked version of Something’s Got To Give; and we’re also buzzing about performing Soapy Sam again, especially after his adventures in Brighton – we all loved it down there, and can’t wait to get back there soon (any Brighton people – do get in touch with us, we love your ‘land’). There are also lots of workshops and summer activities on the Handprint calendar…we can’t wait to share our upcoming adventures with you all. As always, if you want to contact us, feel free; we adore hearing from you, and love working with a wide mix of people! It’s going to be a great summer…let it roll!

So…what’s been making you smile today? The sunshine? The flowers? The smell of freshly cut grass? Cycling along a canal…? Do let us know; comment below, or even send us a tweet.

A HUGE Happy Monday to you all, and lots of hugs; here’s to a summer filled with plenty of brilliant Happy Mondays x

Soapy Sam is off to BRIGHTON!!

by handprinttheatreblog

Our very own wonderful Laura has written an awesome blog post that chronicles the journey of Soapy Sam, from the initial ideas, all the way to the way the production stands at the moment. It’s been one wild journey, and we are looking forward to where it will take us next! This week, Sam is going to be in Brighton – there are still tickets if you want to join him, more information is at the bottom of the post. 

 

Handprint HQ is always pretty busy, but it seems at the moment we have really surpassed ourselves with a manic summer of exciting events, festivals and projects!

Soapy Sam is back in development, and with some tweaks and adjustments and plenty more bubbles it is really exciting to be back on the road, this time heading to the seaside.

Soapy Sam

Soapy Sam has been one of our longest running projects, and his journey is something that we have definitely learnt from, and hope it will continue and children across the country fall in love with our little puppet.

Initially started in 2010, we decided to venture to the Camden Fringe with a children’s show, where we could explore signing with puppetry and include a younger audience (previously our work had not been suitable for children!). A memorable email was the moment when we suddenly thought ‘what if a boy got sucked down the plug hole?’.  This was our starting point, and the possibilities seemed endless, yet impossible!

But how to start the show when the company was living across the country was interesting!

With many emails and rehearsals, including commuting between Reading and London, and finding any space possible to build puppets and get messy with bubbles…it was not the easiest of processes. The original cast of myself (Laura), Marian Hoddy, and Megan Pennyfather tried many different story ideas, looking at what would happen if a small boy got sucked down the plughole.

As with many Fringe festivals with hundreds of shows, and unknown companies, it was a real struggle to get audience; and sometimes very disheartening. But we all agreed at the end of the run that Soapy Sam had far more potential!

In 2011 we began a Creative Partnership with a school in Slough, where we were asked to work with Yr 1’s on a puppetry project. Soapy Sam was desperate to jump off Marian’s shelf, and so we knew this could be the perfect way to redevelop the story – with children. So we welcomed Lucy O’Keeffe into the team and set about how the show could work in a 6 week school schedule, inspiring the children to make their own puppets and also to develop the story with their fantastic ideas.

Getting to Slough for 9am from London was a lot of early starts, but working with the children was an eye-opening process. Performing sections of the story and asking the children to tell the next part led to monster parties, scary slime and crazy creatures.

One pupil asked us, ‘Why is there only one picture of Soapy Sam online?’ – he was 7 (!!). We knew that Soapy Sam had a lot more adventures waiting to take place, and we needed more pictures online!

A complete story change, meant that Soapy Sam’s adventure was a whole new show, and we were excited to tell the new story.

The Little Chill festival in London provided a great opportunity to tell this new story in a slightly windy and very wet tent! Another cast change meant the show was a very new experience, and we added a participatory workshop after where the audience could make their own puppets like the children in Slough had done previously. More and more characters were building, and although this was a particularly wet performance, Soapy Sam still had a long way to go!

Sam next went international! Journeying on the ferry across to Guernsey, he charmed the Island, performing to many Deaf families, and even got in the local paper.

In November 2011 we were lucky enough to visit The Bike Shed Theatre in Devon. 3 days of Soapy Sam provided the first theatre experience for some tiny audience members, and was enthusiastically received. The performance had been accompanied by a shadow puppetry making workshop at the Exeter Central Library, which encouraged children to really get creative! We were also able to visit some local schools where they were able to not just watch, but also experience the show in an interactive workshop. Classes of children were sucked down the pipes, journeyed through the slime…but back in class in time for lunch!

The Exeter Royal Academy of Deaf Education brought a group of young people to The Bike Shed, where they were able to do a workshop on the stage, explore the ‘pipes’, meet the puppets, and then see the show. It was an exciting day and a great experience for young people to be working in the professional theatre.

Soapy Sam was tired, but did not stop exploring there, in fact he came back to London for a 3 weekend run at the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon. Once again, some reshaping, new direction and polishing up his adventure was set up and full of bubbles! Supported by the NDCS, we were able to provide puppet making workshop in the theatre after the show, where we met some exciting new characters, and were given many more ideas for his adventures.

We even had the first ever Soapy Sam birthday party, where an excited group of party-goers saw the show and then had a very tasty Soapy Sam birthday cake and of course met our famous friend!

We also worked with illustrator Alex Bennett, in developing the Soapy Sam children’s book which is currently on sale for £4, so families can take the story home to read together again and again, including lots of gruesome things to look out for down the pipes.

Many school teachers have contacted us and bought the book and told us it has become a class favourite – but what will he do next?

Since Croydon, Soapy Sam has been doing one off performances at various family events, including in Reading for the NDCS Family Day, and the Harrow Family Deaf day. Children (and parents!) were able to see the show in a beautiful cabin and then make some fantastic puppets, and told us exactly what would happen to Sam.

2013 has so far been a restful time for Soapy Sam, although he will be back in action for the Brighton Fringe. It is our first visit to Brighton, and we are really excited to be working with the Brighton and Hove Junior School who will be playing host to the performance. The pupils will be able to explore the pipes during the day, and then at 5pm we have a public performance where all are welcome to see the latest version of Sam’s adventures.

It is fascinating to recall the journey that the show has been on, the changing cast members, and different directors. All have contributed so much, but no one could ever give as much enthusiasm and passion for the puppet than the children in the audience. It is great to see how many children continue to care, and help Sam through his adventures, and we can not wait to meet his new friends in Brighton.

 

 

5pm, 22 May 2013, Brighton and Hove Junior School, Tickets £4 Children (£5 adult) Book online at www.brightonfringe.org.uk

 

Any teachers or organisations who would like a visit from Soapy Sam do get in touch.

Sarah n Bee

(Photo taken in Brighton, yesterday, publicising Soapy Sam – it involved lots of BUBBLES, shower caps, Soapy Sam stickers, and flyers…and a whole bunch of fun!)

Sam’s Adventures in Croydon: Part 2

by handprinttheatreblog

If you needed further proof of the adventures Sam had in Croydon…here they are:

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the sunshine comes back…and have a great Tuesday! Sam sends his love…

Sam Love.

by handprinttheatreblog

Soapy Sam finished his run in Croydon, this past weekend, and he is now enjoying his rest. All of us in the Handprint team have a big soft spot for Sam, and we love his mischievousness! How can you fail to be lured in by his lovely self?

We’re smitten by him!

Here’s a sneak peak of the photographs to follow soon, from the run in Croydon:

Keep your eyes peeled!

We hope you have a great Bank Holiday Weekend, with hugs from all at Handprint x