Dowtcha boy! Cork Puppet fest dedicated to pioneer

A pioneer of puppetry and visual street theatre in Ireland will be remembered as puppets take over Cork next month.

Dowtcha boy! Cork Puppet fest dedicated to pioneer

The 2016 Cork Puppetry Festival will be dedicated to the memory of Mick Lynch, an artist, musician, and co-founder of the city’s Dowtcha Puppets, who passed away last December.

Mr Lynch, the frontman of legendary new-wave band Stump, helped build Dowtcha Puppets from humble beginnings in 2002 into one of the country’s top visual spectacle and street theatre companies. The stunning creations have been St Patrick’s Day parade regulars in Cork and Dublin.

His Dowtcha Puppets co-founder and friend, Cliff Dolliver, recalled Mick’s immense story-telling, writing and musical talents, and his fresh approach to puppetry, and said it will be a bitter-sweet festival this year without him.

“But what was most valuable, I think, was Mick’s immaculate skills as a performer. I learned most of my trade from him. He was a hardworking, dedicated guy who was here whenever we needed him,” he said.

Mr Dolliver was speaking last night as details of Cork’s third puppetry festival were announced. To mark Mick’s contribution to the festival over the years, his work ‘The Ballad of Tin Can Annie’ will be performed, as will the beginnings of a new work based on his poem, ‘The Preacháin’.

More than 100 puppets and 20 acclaimed Irish and international puppeteers will perform special puppet shows for children and adults from August 7 to 14 at venues including Fitzgerald Park, the Granary Theatre, Crawford College of Art and Design, Triskel Arts Centre, Crane Lane Theatre, and the Village Hall.

Róisín Hartnett and Charlie and Tom Duff with Neptune at the launch of Cork Puppetry Festival in Fitzgerald Park.
Róisín Hartnett and Charlie and Tom Duff with Neptune at the launch of Cork Puppetry Festival in Fitzgerald Park.

The festival will kick off with a Puppet Picnic in Fitzgerald Park on August 7 where members of the Dowtcha Puppet team will teach picnic-goers how to make animal masks and costumes. Giant puppets will roam through the park while Punch and Judy shows take place.

Other shows during the week include Púca Puppets’ Tales of the Viking Gods shadow puppetry show; Dog and String Theatre present Tales from the Forest, an interactive and comical show for 4-10-year-olds, while Little Gem Puppets stage their interpretation of the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood for younger children.

Adults will also be catered for with leading puppeteers including Mr Dolliver, Sarah Fuller, Niamh Lawlor, and Carmel Balfe performing the Puppet Slam Cabaret — short pieces of theatre, comedy, and song in the Crane Lane Theatre.

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