Meet the master of puppets

Kentish Pip Wild Summer Sparkling Elderflower Cider
STRANGE BUT TRUE Silent Tide: The Adventures of Curious Ganz, Trinity Theatre, Saturday, 10.30am

The Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival happens every two years at venues across the town and is organised by Linda Lewis, who having worked for The Arts Council, the De La Warr Pavilion and Trinity Theatre’s youth group has always had a penchant for puppets.

So much so, she decided to launch Tunbridge Wells’ first celebratory event of them in 2015 to much critical acclaim. So what’s it all about?

“It’s a celebration of the art of puppetry in its many forms – object theatre, marionettes, shadow play and kites,” explains Linda.

“Our aim is to bring world-class puppetry to the local community and to make it accessible to everyone. For this year’s festival we’ve got an even bigger and more varied line-up of funny, touching and thought-provoking puppetry for all ages.

“From a 17ft walking, talking tree to a lovely mini tabletop show for an audience of just eight, there are ticketed and free shows, talks, an exhibition, workshops, and some amazing free street theatre.”

Linda adds that the ‘really exciting’ thing is that for the first time the festival has invited many international companies – many of whom haven’t performed in the UK before – to come along to perform over the weekend at different venues, which include Trinity Theatre, The Assembly Hall and The Forum. They include Cal y Canto and Javier Aranda from Spain, Ola Muchin from Poland, and Italy’s Di Filippo with their beautiful marionettes. There will also be free events taking place on The Pantiles and also at the Millennium Clock in the heart of the town.



As the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival only happens every other year, how does Linda manage to sustain interest in it within the community?

“Well, we’ve been busy with a successful outreach programme that has helped to keep the festival message alive in the town,” she says.

“In 2018, puppetry company Smoking Apples collaborated with the Tunbridge Wells Puppetry Festival and Age UK Tunbridge Wells to create the short film Shadow Play – a project using shadow puppetry to recall the memories of people living with dementia. The touching film will be shown at the festival on Saturday, October 12, at Trinity Theatre.

“Puppet theatre company Rust & Stardust also collaborated with us, Age UK Tunbridge Wells and St Barnabas’ Primary School on our Sea of Stories project. This intergenerational activity aims to reveal what the young and old can learn from each other through the sharing of stories and experiences. Both projects have been incredibly rewarding, and we hope to be doing more of the same in 2020.”

Can Linda sum up the Puppetry Festival experience in three words?

“Enjoyment. Amazement. Inspirational.”

To find out more, visit

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter