Puppet regime

18th July 1997 at 01:00
One of the more traditional art forms undergoing something of a renaissance at the moment is puppetry, which has developed well beyond the Punch and Judy booth of yesteryear.

With hand puppets, string puppets, shadow puppets, life-sized, giant and even luminous puppets, it's a form of entertainment which still enthrals the younger (and not so young) audience, even in these days of complex computer games and other forms of electronic wizardry. The enduring appeal of puppetry can be measured by the fact that it's well represented among the children's shows on this year's Fringe.

The renowned Purves International Puppets, who have their own custom-built puppet theatre in Biggar, are mounting two shows at South Leith Parish Church Hall. The first, Pip and Panda's Magic Egg, is a "join in show'' for children up to seven, and the children are invited to bring their own pandas to meet the puppets after the show. The second, a musical production of Hans Christian Andersen's classic story, The Tinderbox, is aimed at family audiences of all ages, and boasts giant puppets which glow in the dark (both August 12-30).

The Netherbow Arts Centre's resident puppeteer, Ian Turbitt, is presenting an adaptation of Beatrix Potter's The Adventures of Peter Rabbit (August 11-30). The Netherbow is also home to Richard Medrington's Puppets, who are presenting A A Milne's Winnie the Pooh (August 7-30) and Sylvia Troon's Kenspeckle Puppets, whose original show, Rainbow Magic, is a colourful story of elves, ideal for three years and upwards (August 7-30).

John Peel Puppets promise participation and "very realistic puppets'' at the Southside Courtyard in Davie Street, where they are presenting Three Billigoats Gruff and Three Little Pigs. Usually a sell-out, the advice is to book early (August 11-23).

Storytelling is also a traditional art form much in vogue. There is a full programme of international storytelling at the Edinburgh Book Festival's Teepee in Charlotte Square Gardens (August 9-25), while C venue (St John's Hall at the West End) welcomes Bringwonder the Storyteller from New Zealand as "one of the greatest exponents of participation storytelling''. Bringwonder draws on the story heritage of the Pacific, the Native Americans and the Celts (August 6-16).

Theatrical productions of traditional fairytales are also much to the fore at the Fringe. C venue offers The Little Mermaid (August 6-30), Leicestershire Youth Arts has Grimm's Fairy Tales at St Ann's Community Centre (August 11-16), and Nottinghamshire Education Theatre Company is shouting Hans Up!, also at C venue. This Fringe First Award-winning youth company, integrating young people with special needs children, invites you to meet The Snow Queen and other favourite characters from Hans Christian Andersen (August 25-30).

Other classic children's stories being performed include The Happy Prince (Edinburgh Acting School at YMCA Ferry Road, August 11-16); The Wind in the Willows and Hiawatha at St Ann's Community Centre (August 11-16 and 18-23 respectively); and the Russian favourite Babushka and the Bear at the Famous Grouse House (August 8-17).

Among the new shows that are likely to pack them in are Dotty Quaver's Last Symphony, a musical play for all ages (Southside Courtyard, August 24-30), and Ferdi the Ferret, who entertains with his rodent chums at C venue (August 6-30). Tie up your trouser legs.

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