BLind SumMiT

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Frequently asked questions



Here are some questions that we often get asked. If you have any questions not included here - please feel free to email us on and someone from Blind Summit team will answer your questions.


What is most important for you in your work?

Mark Down: The relation between puppet and the puppeteer - Puppetry is about our relationship with 'things' - the inanimate world. This relationship is powerful - such as our relationship with money, cars, success, God. Puppetry explores the power in that relationship. For this reason we see no reason for puppeteers to be invisible, in fact we see the power of puppetry in its clear artifice. The undisguised imitation of 'realness' is a metaphor for our unrequited love affair with all things not living.


What is the inspiration for your shows?

Mark Down: We are inspired by everything and anything, music, a script, a book, a funny voice, someone we are working with (everyone we're working with hopefully!).. Anything can be a starting point for a bigger show.


Blind Summit puppeteers show facial expressions representing what those of the puppet would be. Is it a specific choice/technique/direction, or does it happen naturally?

Mark Down: It is not about forcing an expression onto the puppet but realising the puppeteer's performance. It comes naturally I think but often needs permission. It is not restricted to the head puppeteer.


Do you think that the perception of puppetry as children's entertainment is changing?

Mark Down: I hope so! I am not sure - there still aren't that many people doing it in the UK. In the rest of the world adult puppetry is more common though.


What do you think needs to change for adult puppetry to become further recognised as a theatrical art form?

Mark Down: I think we need charismatic, sexy performers who will work as hard and with the same commitment as great dancers, actors, singers. In the final analysis we go to shows to see the performances and most puppetry is not good enough to attract really big mainstream audiences and knock them out. This is because most puppeteers are maker/puppeteer and that really means they are makers. But no one will pay to watch them make.


Within your own practice of Bunraku puppetry, are you conscious of the Japanese cultural traditions from which the puppet originated from when you produce your work?

Mark Down: Sort of. We do it differently - we hold the head with our writing hand not with our left hand which is traditional. Our puppets walk on the ground or on a table - Bunraku puppets are in the air. We improvise while Bunraku is more stylised and choreographed. Our puppeteers speak. The biggest difference is probably that in Bunraku the chanter at the side of the stage drives the story and does all the voices - in our shows the puppets drive the action and plau roles directly. I think in Bunraku the chanters also were the real celebrities and Bunraku was the 'video'. I don't think there is a contemporary western equivalent of this narration style.


What's the biggest challenge in producing puppetry?

Stephanie Hay: The cost! Having come from a more traditional theatre background, I had never thought about the cost implications ow working with puppets - each puppet character takes three performers, and so a three person show actually has nine performers on the show! Combined with the making of the puppet(which needs costumes as well as the performers!), puppetry needs a whole different budget model.



Do your Bunraku puppetry techniques stem from the traditional style or have you adapted/ developed a style that fits your own performance needs?


Mark Down: There are similiarities - the three man operation, the way we hold the puppet, the visible puppeteers, the grandeur of emotion. But mainly we worked it out our own way. We use the term Bunraku more to try and contextualise our work for audiences than for our working practise. It helps for audiences to have a word and a tradition to hand the work on. Mainly we have worked out a style that fitted the puppets' needs and our taste.


What is your opinion of the part that puppetry can play in live theatre?'

Mark Down: Puppetry deconstructs and exposes the workings of the theatre and puts on display theatre in its most essential form. The puppet, like the mask, is symbolic of theatre. If theatre imitates life, then puppetry imitates living people.


Do you think puppetry will continue to be high profile, or do you think it is merely a novelty? Will audiences continue to accept it?

Mark Down: I hope so! I think the future for puppetry in theatre in the UK could be very exciting. I think rather than be a novelty it could become normal and accepted as part of british theatre - just as circus skills and physical theatre have. As long as people keep improving the standards of performance and direction and design then I think we haven't seen yet the full range of what puppet theatre can achieve.


Where does the name "Blind Summit" come from?

Mark Down: Signs on the A68 to Edinburgh!








Blind Summit Theatre
Unit 10, Grenville Workshops, 2a Grenville Road, London, N19 4EH
020 7272 9020 -