If you'd like to know more about our past projects, check out the 'Our Work' section and our 'Gallery and Videos', where you can discover some of the projects that have laid the foundations for this seasons creative programming.
If you'd like to find out more about our partnership projects or how to become a project partner, click here! >
Below, you can find out about our current creative projects, discover how each of these fit in with our 5 Elements development strategy, and identify any opportunities we may have for you to get involved, if you'd like to.
Learn about our latest and upcoming projects here >
If you'd like to know more about upcoming opportunities to get involved or our plans for the not-too-distant future, click this button to jump there, now!
If you'd like to explore some of our artistic collaborations, or invite us to collaborate on a project, please click here! >
IT'S CHAOS AROUND HERE! (but in a very good way!)...
For the next 3 years, we will be dedicating most of our energy towards our 'Chaos' Element - by developing 3 brand new puppetry performances/productions, each accompanied by interactive creative learning programmes that proudly integrate all of our companies aims, objectives, creative practices, artistic team mates and audiences!
We're doing this because we know - from hard earned experience - that this is where our most influential and successful work happens; and because we want to provide our sector with ever more inventive ways to tackle discrimination, stigma and misconception about disability. But it's far more ambitious than that. What we really want to do is agitate real, lasting, powerful change, and move the focus of our work beyond the confines of our 'disabled led' tagline.
Don't get us wrong - we are very proud to be a disabled led theatre company, and we believe we've done a pretty good job of dispelling some of the myths surrounding that status over the years too - but we want more! We don't want to be seen as doing good work 'for a disabled company'. We want the world to stop obsessing over whether or not people are disabled, and simply start including us as equals - as the highly skilled, multi-talented, multifaceted, brilliantly flawed and human beings that we are.
That's why, for the next 3 years we're focusing on showcasing our creative production skills first and foremost; offering artists and makers with and without disabilities to work together, truly collaboratively to tell the stories that matter to them, and to highlight 'the good bits' as well as the 'less than good bits' about living and working with disabilities and chronic illness.
Because we are far more than our disabilities, and we want the next generation of children and families to be able to coexist in a world where it's simply 'not a big deal' anymore.
FOUNDATIONS / 'EARTH REALM' PROJECTS
Right now our team is very busy trying to raise enough grant funding to keep the company thriving throughout 2023-2025! This involves a lot of unpaid work, because we are currently only funded during our creative projects, which were delayed or adapted during the covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
As a tiny in house team - who all have chronic illnesses or are parents of children who do, or both - we have spent most of the past 3 years shielding and working almost exclusively online from our separate homes and with no 'real world' access to our support workers.
We have made some absolutely incredible International connections throughout the pandemic however, so a large part of our focus as we devise and design our next big projects has been dedicated to figuring out how to maximise all the fantastic opportunities that now lay ahead of us - you can find out more about them below!
COMMUNITY / 'KIN REALM' PROJECTS
We're still running the occasional puppet making workshop within our local communities, now that it can be made covid-safe to do so in at least some of our regular spaces - but we're still not entirely free of covid related risk factors as a team, and many of our hospices and clinical settings remain closed to protect their particularly more vulnerable patients from undue risk too.
As long as this remains beyond our control, we will keep focusing the energy of our community programme on creating a truly one of a kind new puppetry performance and creative learning provision, specifically devised for our children and families audiences - 'Creatures of Chaos' and 'The Quest of 5 Realms'.
We're currently applying for funding to run this project from May 2023 to September 2024 (and hopefully, beyond). The entire programme is being custom produced by disabled artists, directors, producers, puppet makers and designers to provide a fun, interactive and engaging way to help young families learning to share their lives with chronic illness and/or disability.
It's purpose will be to introduce audiences to positive coping strategies and the use of effective creative approaches to aid them with mindfulness, managing complex health and illness cycles, challenging stigma, ableism, zenophobia and discrimination, and ultimately improving participation opportunities through puppetry and its related art forms, with lots of learning resources and family friendly activity days/performances too!
INFLUENCE / 'AIR REALM' PROJECTS
Since 2016, our 'Influence' programme has consisted of seasonal projects - some funded by Arts Council England - which promote inclusion for emerging and professional creative artists and practitioners who are often house or bed bound by their complex or unpredictable health conditions. Since our first run of Broken Live, we have run 5 seasons, all initially online, but more recently also including some artistic forays into the real world too! Whenever we are able to fund and facilitate the inclusion of artists with specialist needs in our practical projects, we do!
Each season of Broken Live has to date generated its own body of work and we've spanned multiple creative skills and formats since 2016 - including; creative writing, gallery-worthy artwork and illustrations, voice work, poetry, script writing, live online zoom writing, shadow puppetry and set design sessions, character design and puppet making, online performance for small screens, creative mentoring and peer review sessions, a photo shoot, working with the Campaign for Disability Awareness to produce seminar and conference exhibition pieces and interactive disability awareness training for hospitals and the corporate sector, run numerous community events and M.E Awareness Days and even joined forces with local MPs & Councilors to create lasting change in our city!
We've helped countless emerging artists to access industry standard and world leading professional development opportunities by funding or co-funding their training - working in partnership with Stan Winston School of Character Arts, Bernd Ogrodnik's Academy of the Wooden Puppet, John Robert's Puppetcraft summer programmes, Aaron Blaise's online character design and illustration course and many, many more! We've given away or heavily subsidised annual subscriptions to every emerging artist joining the programme for over 7 years now, and we continue to offer many of them paid work now that they are trained up and confident enough to take on the challenges with our continued support.
During Covid lockdown, we were fortunate enough to be financially supported by Arts Council England again, and were able to commission 3 of our former Broken Live Emerging Artists to produce their very own work, and to work with us to create social media content, run a pilot podcast series and make their first ever puppetry films and shows! - You can see some of their work on our 'Emerging Artists' page in the 'Meet the Team' Section.
The only logical next step for the Broken Live cohort is to produce their first ever full scale show and creative learning provision...So, 'Cabinet of Curiosities' and 'The Chronic 5 Elements' workshop/seminar series will be heading into production next...just as soon as we've raised the required of funding, to ensure that everyone - no matter what their complex inclusion needs may be - can take part to their maximum potential.
TRANSFORM / 'FIRE REALM' PROJECTS
The 'Transform' part of our work has always been at the heart of what we believe in and acts like a kind of framework to help us try to achieve proactive, positive change around inclusion and attitudes towards disabilty in all settings. Whenever we interact with other companies, whether they fall within or far beyond the creative industries sector, or our magic little realm of puppetry theatre, we always strive to ensure that we learn from our connections to them, and that we give them the opportunity to learn from us too.
We know that there is still alot more work for us to do, because we have lost count of the number of events, venues, festivals and conferences we've been to that have fallen signifiantly short of our expectations around accessibilty and inclusion. We've all - without exception - experienced ableism or disability related discrimination regularly, and we want to be part of the positive efforts to help change that - not only for our team and our participants, but for everyone - INCLUDING all the people who run the events, venues, festivals and conferences (among other things!) that we so often struggle to access as artists with chronic illnesses, disabilities, neuro-divergence, mobility issues and the like.
We don't believe that simply complaining about the inequalities we face is helpful to anyone, so instead we aim to lead by example. We write Health and Wellbeing clauses openly and not in small print within all of our contracts, and we encourage anyone who partners with us to do that too. We provide accessibility visits, reviews and consultations to anyone who asks us to, to give them the 'inside track' on how we experience their provisions from a 'differently abled' perspective, and give advice on where improvements can be made. We work with the Equalities Working Group on our local council to help them make public events safer and more inclusive for people with disabilities, and we spend a lot of energy trying to make participation possible, practical and most of all enjoyable for alternately abled audiences of all ages.
We're slowly taking the work of our 'transform' programme to a brand new level over the next few years - By launching our very own industry-wide initiative: The Inclusive Puppetry Alliance [TIPA]. We'll release more details once we know if and how this will be funded, but in the meantime, you can think of it like an open invitation to the puppetry production sector and the creative industries we serve: Collaborate with us, and let's find inventive, practical, real world, hands on, logistically sound, financially feasible solutions - to as many accessibility challenges as we possibly can, TOGETHER!
Here are just a few of the amazing companies who have worked with us to help create lasting inclusive pupptery opportunities for our disabled artists so far!
WILL YOU JOIN
AND HELP US CREATE CHANGE FOR YOUR DISABLED PATRONS?
To find out more about how you can get involved BEFORE we go live, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
KINETICS / 'WATER REALM' PROJECTS
Our 'Kinetics' activities started with a project called 'Puppetry Access and Engineering' in 2018. It was funded by Arts Council England and was a second phase follow up to our 2016 R & D trips, through which we visited London, Bristol and Wales, in order to meet puppetry practitioners and venues to discuss our needs as a newly emerging touring company. Although we had been producing puppetry since 2010 and had formed Broken Puppet by 2012, we had yet to perform any shows outside of our region, and would struggle immensely even leaving our local area to see someone else's shows, or attend training or workshops - so we had never even considered that one day we might want to be able to tour ourselves...but the more community festivals and events we did, and the more and more connected we became with the puppetry world beyond our borders, the more we started to feel...left behind. left out. isolated and stifled. Stuck right here where we were - both literally and metaphorically. We thought we were not capable of taking our work farther afield, but we knew in our hearts that we wanted - and needed - to, so we set about investigating WHY.
WHY is it so much harder for us to travel, as a disabled team? WHAT can we do about this? HOW can we use our creative skills and abilities to reach higher, and engage with even more disabled artists and audiences? WHICH was is it to London, anyway? Can you get 2 mobility scooters, 3 people and a suitcase full of puppets on a train? on multiple trains? WHERE on earth will we be able to stay, that's got all the ridiculous facilities we might need to stay healthy while we're there? And HOW to we design and build puppets that we can still perform, even on a bad mobility day?...We had endless questions, with no answers. So, there was only one thing to do:
Research & Development! We decided to call this branch of our company activities 'Kinetics', because ultimately it was about creating - and sustaining - our kinetic energy. We needed to find ways to move - us and our creations - that were not going to harm us. We did some sums, and we soon figured out that to do anything of this scale required a lot more than we could ever afford on limited capacity for work and disability benefits, so we came up with a plan. We devised - and successfully, but painfully, completed - a 3 week residency in London, and then we bought some new collaborators we'd met up there, back down to work with us in Devon!
We set the very brilliant Jimmy Grimes and Andy Brunskill - of Brunskill and Grimes - a challenge; to help us figure out how to stage some puppetry performances around our mobility scooters and wheelchairs, AND to design it in such a way that it'd be lightweight and collapsible enough to travel. And that is more or less how our unique 'Scoot-about' puppetry style was born!
The next thing we started to explore was the potential use of Animatronics as an enabling technology for disabled puppeteers and performers, and to experiment with this, we reached out to Jon and Staci at Furrifingers - a company also based in Plymouth, not too far from us. We soon became friends and joined forces to partner up on the next phase of our 'Kinetics' project. After a couple of attempts we were able to secure further funding, to explore how to combine all our creative and technical skills, with the use of 3D printing and animatronics led by Jon Hodges, and with support from Staci Hodge on social media and filming, we enjoyed a fantastic collaborative season, developing designs and researching the integration of 'puppets POV' eye lens camera's and 3D Modelling to create what will eventually become our first ever 'seeing' puppet, and also our first ever entirely remotely operated live interactive one!
Unfortunately, some way into our second R and D season with Furrifingers, Covid hit, and threatened to derail everything. Our teams were forced into isolation, and shielding, and to survive, both companies had to shift focus to get through the turbulence of 2019-2021. As a result of us no longer being able to physically be in the same workshop, we 'went digital', and are now working towards integrating our unfinished animatronic puppet builds into our next funded productions, as part of our 'CHAOS/CREATIVE' programming for Summer 2023 on.
CREATIVE / 'CHAOS REALM' PROJECTS
2 brand new puppetry productions with integrated creative learning packages!
BROKEN LIVE GET CHAOTIC...
Our Artists Collective of Puppetry, Theatre, Film & Creative Writing Practitioners are set to collaborate Internationally again next season! And this year, it's not ALL about training...We're actually going to be leading our first ever co-production with the AWARD WINNING Creative Madness from South Africa!
Director Peter Court will be joining us to lead the SA based action, while in the UK we're expanding our team of puppetry pro's joining together Broken Live's most promising emerging artists, members of our South West Puppetry Connection zoom group and some of the team behind the recent create puppetry festival too!
CREATURES OF CHAOS
& THE QUEST OF 5 REALMS...
Our team have been developing the artistic potential of our original show 'Ephelant!' to introduce a brand new cast of 'chronic creatures' who will cause more than a bit of 'creatively productive chaos' wherever they roam! This show is written and produced by professional puppetry practitioners and creative enablers to help support children and families learning to live with chronic illness or disabilities.
TIPA LAUNCHES NEXT SPRING!...
The Inclusive Puppetry Alliance [TIPA] also launches - funding permitted - in Spring 2023, extending a unique invitation to the puppetry sector (and beyond); to work with our team and help us all to develop better approaches to inclusive practice and create even more widely accessible puppetry performances, productions, events, festival provisions and online offers, for everyone who struggles to access and enjoy them.