Punch and Judy at The Scottish Mask and Puppet Centre

Policinelle by Ken Barnard

Masks, puppets, magic and performing objects are tools of transformation. They are a kind of seismograph of the consciousness that we have of ourselves and others. They are unique tools of empowerment and group collaboration; keys to cross-cultural and intercultural performance and the promotion of international peace, friendship and understanding.

During the past thirty years we have acted as a national centre of excellence and as a home for practitioners, artists, students,teachers and researchers and all those seeking that creative spark of freedom which lies deep inside every person. “Freedom Come All Ye”.

The creative nucleus of our Centre is its theatre, museum,education unit and related production and design workshops (marionette carving, mask studio, textile & design facilities, film & FX creature shop). Our approach is ‘hands on’ and our work and training initiatives are applied by ‘learning through doing’ from craft to performance.

We offer a regular programme of weekend shows, public workshops and children’s birthday parties. We also specialise in cultural animation projects, professional training, international residencies, touring exhibitions, mask work, publications and new book sales. We continue to learn and gather momentum from all our collaborations and partnerships.

The Centre functions as a building-based arts centre with its own studio theatre, library and multimedia room, display gallery, cafe, mask studio, puppet-making/carving workshops, office complex, car park and grounds.

SMPC currently offers two national touring exhibitions to museums and art galleries – The Magic of Masks and Puppets and Behind The Mask. The Centre has an ongoing Cultural Diversity Programme and hosts and promotes intercultural companies and exchanges from overseas as well as an education outreach programme to schools, community and voluntary organisations.  A summer masterclasses generally takes place in June , and an Annual Puppeteers Day is held in September. The Puppeteers in Scotland Weekend Programme hosts visiting companies on a weekly basis combined with birthday party workshops.

The Centre is core-funded through Glasgow Life by Glasgow City Council, with previous support from The Scottish Arts Council, The Carnegie UK Trust, The Hugh Fraser Foundation, the National Lottery and other private trusts and foundations.

Our philosophy is one of radical humanism. We think that the act of channelling life through the use of masks, puppets, magic and performing objects is a powerful antidote to the effects of globalisation that so often  reduce people to objects and that this makes them ideal tools to use against dehumanisation.

To sum up, we believe that the theatre of masks, puppets, magic and performing objects is embedded in the language of world theatre as a root rather than as a branch. The popular and avant-garde experiments associated with these art forms are  both traditional and innovative  and are rooted in the culture of the people.

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