Buxton Puppet Festival 2003
In 2003, Buxton hosted the inaugral Buxton Puppet Festival. It was organised by the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild and funded by Arts Council England and Japan 21. Funny Wonders, the Guild and the Buxton Opera House formed a partnership which established the festival as an integral part of the international summer festivals which has made Buxton a major arts festival town.
On the recommendation of Peter Charlton of the Guild, we invited Nori Sawa, a Japanese puppet master, to perform in the first Buxton Puppet Festival. Doug picked him up at Manchester Airport:
"I was expecting a national treasure to emerge with all the minimal movement and understated gravitas of a character from a 'Noh' play. Instead he arrived with a hop, skip and a jump towing luggage that had clearly been adapted to turn into something else. By the time we got to the car we felt like old friends. Conversation flowed so copiously that I got completely lost on the way home. Nori clearly thought this was the best joke ever."
The festival began with an opening ceremony attended by Glynis Kirk, the then Mayor of the High Peak and Tom Levitt, the then MP for the High Peak and a parade of puppets created by pupils from Buxton Community School who had joined with Funny Wonders in puppet-making workshops leading up to the festival.