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Profile on: Ailie Cohen

Ailie Cohen of the Hoodwink puppet company tells us about how she began in puppetry and briefly talks us through her work so far.

Ailie's background in puppetry

Ailie Cohen Puppeteer; Photo: Esther Cohen

'I started puppeteering after being spotted by the Edinburgh Puppet Lab whilst involved in some "dadaesque" cabaret during Artistic Upstarts 1992.  This was way back when my enthusiasm for unpaid performance art/cabaret propelled me and Matt Rudkin (now performance lecturer in Brighton) to run around the stage in robot outfits with our hands up glove puppets shouting 'P*** about!'  The week after this momentous event we were being paid to perform Peter Pan – a more accessible work, using a lot of stuffed bears'.

Having trained in visual art and acting; Nottingham Polytechnic, Post Grad at VGIK – (State Institute for Theatre and Cinematography Moscow), puppetry seemed the ideal arena for combining skills. 'In performance I like to explore the relationship between character acted and character puppeteered. From this the visual aspects of my staging and design evolve'.

Ailie's reasons for her love of puppetry is clear: 'I can make my puppets do everything that I, as an actor cannot. The different worlds through which to travel and take an audience are therefore boundless. Puppet theatre is always an exercise in imagination'. Assembly Send Image; Photo: Esther Cohen

Ailie wrote, made and performed in her first show after years of working as an actor, puppeteer, musician and 'cutting various teeth' at Edinburgh’s infamous Bongo Club Cabaret.  The show was I Vant to be Alone and was made for an adult audience.  She then made ‘Rumpelstiltskin at the Fairytale Laundry’ which premiered at Assembly Theatre and has since toured Ireland, UK, Prague and Australia.

Current and future work

Hoodwink's Jazzmouse; Photo: Courtesy John Fardell

Jazz Mouse is Ailie's latest show. 

As Ailie explains, it 'continues to evolve and change as I learn more from the audiences it is presented to'. It is currently touring Scotland as part of the popular Scottish Puppet Animation Festival.

All of Ailie's work so far, has been performed solo.

Ailie's next project for young people will be Sleeping Beauty - Wake Up!! She is hoping to involve a writer, director and sonic artist as well as other performers.  The aim is to create a larger scale work where the audience are also incorporated into the design to create a kind of installation puppet theatre.

Jazz Mouse: See the tail of jazz mouse, a sophisticated French musician who has played with all the greats - a giant music stave where all the notes hang out, and meet a naughty note who won't stay in tune - all inside the piano of the most boring music teacher in the world. What is more important - getting all the notes right, or knowing how to have a good time playing music? And can Jazz Mouse help the pupil of the most boring music teacher in the world rediscover fun?

Jazz Mouse by Hoodwink is being performed as part of Scotland's Puppet Animation Festival

* Theme - Puppetry
* Focus on - Puppet Animation Festival
Related links
* The Puppet Lab
* The Bongo Club
* Puppet Animation Festival
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