It’s Shakespeare in Islington... but with strings attached

ONE of Shakespeare’s best-known plays is being put on the Islington stage – by a cast of puppets.

The Little Angel Theatre may be better known for children’s productions such as Fantastic Mr Fox but it is now moving into more highbrow territory – and putting on a production of The Tempest.

The Dagmar Passage puppet theatre claims that even children as young as seven will be able to understand the play – despite the fact that the man-made cast will be remaining faithful to the Shakespearean text.

Peter Glanville, artistic director of the Little Angel, who is directing the production, said: “The Tempest has got such huge dramatic moments and it’s got spirits and magical creatures, so we thought it would be ideal for puppets.

“It’s part of our drive to have puppetry for adults but it’s also about doing Shakespeare for children.

“We will be retaining the Shakespearean language but even if there are words the children don’t understand, the meaning will be very clear with the puppets. The Caliban puppet will be huge – a six-feet high dragon crossed with a frog. Ariel will be a small bird-like spirit. And we will have a boat that will fly in through the sky.”

The trimmed-down 75-minute play, which will feature some human actors, is being staged next spring by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Little Angel to celebrate the 50th anniversary of both the theatre and the RSC.

Most Read

It is not the first time the Little Angel has ventured into the realm of Shakespeare.

In 2004, the Little Angel and the RSC staged the Bard’s erotic love poem Venus and Adonis, in which the goddess of love attempts to seduce a beautiful youth.

Mr Glanville said: “People still talk about it as the best thing they have ever seen, so we have continued to work with the RSC.”

The Tempest will open at the refurbished Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon Avon on March 9, 2011, before transferring to the Little Angel on April 9.

Gregory Doran, chief associate director of the RSC, said: “I know a very special imagination will be applied to this most magical of plays and I can’t wait to see the results.”

The production is part of 12 months of birthday celebrations at the Little Angel next year. Special events planned include the second ever festival of adult puppetry, a community play featuring more than 100 locals, a Christmas production of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, and the establishment of the Little Angel Award for outstanding puppetry.