Performers across the world come to Edinburgh for visual arts festival

Exclusive pop-up acts and a livestreamed performance between Scotland and Argentina are on offer at the festival.

Performers across the world come to Edinburgh for MANIPULATE arts festival Amy Sinead Photography

Large-scale illuminated hand puppets and a livestreamed performance between Scotland and Argentina are among the offerings at Edinburgh’s MANIPULATE arts festival.

The event, running from February 2 to 12, is an international celebration of visual theatre and animated film.

The festival, now in its 16th edition, will take over Scotland’s capital with a range of events including a live micro-cinema featuring over 2000 miniature animals and an aerial work inspired by lobster fishing.

It is also the first time the festival has run in full since before the Covid lockdown.

The programme offers performances on the themes of migration, resilience in human spirit, memory and the world’s changing climate.

The festival includes the world premier of Arthropoda by Paper Doll Militia / MANIPULTE Festival 2023Kate George

Many of the performances are finally reaching the Edinburgh stage after being rescheduled from 2021 and 2022 as a result of the pandemic.

MANIPULATE Festival 2023 will open with a roaming performance on the streets of Edinburgh, created by Fergus Dunnet and Ronan McMahom.

‘The Dab Hands’ are large-scale illuminated puppets specially commissioned by festival organisers to usher in the 2023 festival and welcome all those they come to pass.

Following this will be an Opening Night Party in celebration of the first full festival in three years, offering exclusive pop-up performances, music and sneak peeks into highlights across the festival, and a visit from specially commissioned giant illuminated puppets for all to enjoy. 

Dawn Taylor, Artistic Director and CEO of Puppet Animation Scotland, says: “We are thrilled that 2023 will see the return of a full MANIPULATE Festival programme for the first time in three years. By expanding across Edinburgh into new venues, the city streets and online, we can reach and connect with new audiences and spark new conversations.

“We are looking forward to celebrating the sheer magic that puppetry, visual theatre and animation can offer during these challenging times; a spark of hope and light that MANIPULATE has come to represent in the dark of the Scottish winter.

“With a more varied palette of artforms than ever, and featuring work which is playful, bold, interrogative and joyful from a dynamic group of visually-driven artists, 2023 promises to be one of our most ambitious programmes to date. We can’t wait to share it with you!”

Jaine Lumsden, Creative Scotland’s Theatre Officer, says: “MANIPULATE is all about bringing together Scottish and international visual theatre and animation of the highest quality and artistic ambition. The Festival plays a central role in the physical performance sector and we’re so glad to be behind its return to full programming next year.”

The full programme can be found here.

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