With no strings attached

Japanese techniques bring new life to a one-man puppet show of Pinocchio

In his one-man puppet show Pinocchio, Steve Tiplady plays the character of Geppetto, the toy-maker, as well as operating the table-top puppets. Tiplady, who has been the Little Angel Theatre's artistic director since January, has performed the show around the world for 10 years, with his puppetry-based company, Indefinite Articles.

"I've done Pinocchio over 500 times since my first show," says Tiplady, a puppeteer for 15 years. One of his first-ever puppeteer jobs was on a production of The Three Billy Goats Gruff at the Puppet Barge, based in Little Venice, north London. Since then, his company has performed the adult puppet show Dust, a retelling of the Odyssey, last seen at the Lyric Hammersmith in January. He also toured an adult puppet version of Hamlet, performed entirely on his own body. "But each time I perform Pinocchio, it's always very different. I take my cue from the audience."

This is the first time, however, that Tiplady will perform Pinocchio at the Little Angel Theatre featuring new and improved puppets, all hand-carved by the top puppet-maker Peter O'Rourke. "When I started out, I made my own Pinocchio out of papier mâché and an electrical conduit," recalls Tiplady. "Now, I have well-made puppets with gorgeous unseen mechanisms. They have good head movements, too. Whereas before, I changed the angle of the puppet with a rod to the head - and you could see my hand - now I have a rod to the back."

People's perception of puppetry is always Punch & Judy, says Tiplady. "But the table-top puppetry that I do is taken from an old Japanese form called Bunraku, in which you do see the puppet operators. It gives me more flexibility."

Tiplady was originally an actor - he learnt puppeteering "as he went along", and it became a passion. "I found acting soul-destroying - there is little creative input allowed. But puppetry offered me total creative freedom. I could do everything myself - act, make the puppets, direct, produce and perform. I'm a total control freak really," he says. "But it is much more satisfying."

Tiplady has stayed true to the original story of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi, about the young puppet that longs to be a real boy. The script for his show, written by Louise Warren, who also wrote Little Angel's hit show Jabberwocky, does, however, take familiar scenes from the Disney film. "Sad as it is, people's perception of Pinocchio is the Disney film, not the original book." In the original, Pinocchio's nose does not grow, and Jiminy Cricket is dead within the first minute. "He is killed by Pinocchio and comes back as a ghost. But in the Disney film, he survives to the end, and sings lots of sentimental songs," says Tiplady. In his show, Jiminy Cricket is played by a clothes peg. "But so that the audience can associate the character with Disney's Cricket, we do play the first chords of 'When You Wish Upon a Star'..."

'Pinocchio', Little Angel Theatre, London N1 (020-7226 1787), Saturdays and Sundays 11am and 2pm, 14 August-19 September

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'