Visual storytelling and arts festival draws to a close in Edinburgh

The festival, now in its 17th year, showcases animated films, puppeteering and physical theatre from across Europe.

Edinburgh’s Manipulate visual arts and storytelling festival draws to a close

A festival celebrating visual storytelling is drawing to a close in Edinburgh this weekend.

The Edinburgh-based Manipulate Festival is in its 17th year and showcases performance work and animated films from across Europe.

Highlights of the event included Pickled Republic, an existential piece about pickles, comedy-horror puppet piece The House and La Conquete, an object theatre show exploring the legacy of colonialism.

Artistic director Dawn Taylor said: “All of the performance work is driven forward by images you see on stage, rather than the words you hear.

“It taps into that rich tradition across Europe; the languages matter less than the images and ideas we are sharing.

“There is something in these art forms that everyone can love, whether you like dance, circus puppetry or physical theatre, or any kind of animated film.

“It’s incredible for breaking down barriers of communication and introducing new ways of thinking and seeing the world.”

The festival has hosted 11 performance works and screened over 40 films from across 22 countries during the festival since it launched on February 1.

Ruxy Cantir on stage during her performance of STV News

Ruxy Cantir is a regular performer at the annual festival and brought her one-woman show Pickled Republic to the stage this year.

It features various pickling vegetables stuck in a jar – all played by Ruxy – stuck in a jar and follows their search and need for purpose.

Ruxy said: “It’s fair to say that the show is outrageous and quite riotous.

“It’s grounded in absurdity and the theatre of the absurd, so at first I was a bit worried that it would be a bit too outrageous for folk.

“But having toured throughout Scotland with the show and performed it many times, at this point I was very pleased to see how audiences are responding to it,which is just kind of very welcoming and just embracing the joy and the silliness of it.”

Contemporary circus artist Callum Donald launched the festival alongside puppeteer Ella Mackay and a giant cat puppet.

He has worked across Europe and the UK.

He said: “It’s been really interesting collaborating with another art form. It’s been rly rewarding to work with a puppeteer.

Circus performer, Callum Donald and puppeteer Ella Mackay.STV News

“There’s an interesting dynamic with a puppet. It comes to life the longer you know it.

“We went into the creation room as two people and left as two people and a giant cat, who was a great colleague.”

Multi-award-winning contemporary circus company Ockham’s Razor presents the Scottish Premiere of Tess – a new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles that combines circus and physical theatre.

Alex Harvey, co-artistic director of Ockham’s Razor said: “It’s hard to find a place for these hybrid cross art form pieces that don’t fit comfortably as dance or circus or straight theatre on their own.

“So festivals like Manipulate give a platform for audiences who are interested in something different, something involving an evolution of an art form.

“It’s amazing to have that platform and for these audiences to get to view this exciting new work that’s being made.”

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