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Rachel Riggs

As Creative Director of Imaginary Leaps & Artistic Director of DNA Puppetry & Visual Theatre, Rachel Riggs is an experienced director, artist/performer, educator and producer of puppetry performances for all ages and abilities.

‘In addition to the historical research that informs her work, Rachel impresses by the breath of her artistic interpretation, which includes site-specific installations and animating the past through shadow-plays and film.’
Amanda Draper – Keeper of Fine Art, Harris Museum & Art Gallery

Previous work includes:
  • • 2011
    Award-winning Artist for Fremantle Festival Parade 2011 with Samson Primary School
    Awesome Children’s Festival, Perth, WA – artist in residence for ’Creative Challenge’, Karratha & Imaginary Leaps sessions programme for early childhood tent.

    Creative Director Imaginary Leaps interactive theatre play specialist programme at the State Library of Western Australia and author of Good Practice Guide.

  • 2010
    Artist Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle
    Making large scale parade puppets for Kwinana Festival community parade with young people and community at Koorliny Arts Centre & Gilmore College.

    Creative Director for the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, WA 'Imaginary Leaps'
    Development of family engagement art programme with AGWA arts education team.

  • 2009
    Lead Artist for the Harris Museum & Art Gallery, Preston, UK
    installation of puppets & props from DNA puppetry & visual theatre co. for ‘Enchanted Worlds' exhibition, research lecturer on 'Local Fairy Folklore’ & community Shadow Theatre programme.
    Lead Artist TATE, Liverpool, UK
    Lead artist for international shadow theatre project for 'The Fifth Floor' exhibition collaborating with artists from China and Everyman Youth Theatre for Liverpool City of Culture 2008.
  • 2006
    Lead Artist Selected Artist Nuffield Theatre, Lancaster University,UK
    'Making Money' bursary artist, 'Change of Heart' project exploring the heart as an emotional object, exploring artists creative process in installation & performance.

    Theatre Educator National Student Drama Festival, Scarborough, UK
    Training students in puppetry skills for the Puppet Centre, London

  • 2005
    Creative Partnerships, Salford- working with Crab Lane Primary reception class on achieving literacy objectives through creative play.
    Eureka! Museum for Children, Halifax - Training play enablers in puppetry technique.
    Watermark, Preston - Professional development sessions for artists and educators.
    STARS Blackpool - summer residency working with special needs groups.
    Puppets a Go Go! Festival Puppetry workshops

  • 2004
    Life Education – training for visiting school health workers
    Connexions – DNA worked with teenagers in Oxfordshire combining various puppetry & video techniques
    Arts in The Parks- Mask workshops with special needs schools in Preston
    Teacher training- Bethnal Green Children's Museum
    The Lyric Hammersmith -early years tissue play workshops
    Professional Development Training workshop 'Imaginary Leaps - transformational theatre' - Horse and Bamboo.
    Liverpool Museum – Workshops to accompany puppet exhibition
    Henshaw Society for the Blind, Manchester- musical puppets and object play residency
    Phoenix Youth Arts Bolton - building a giant processional puppet for arts week
  • 2003
    Total Theatre Talks 2003 - discussion on design and scenography. Click here to visit the Total Theatre page
    Specialist direction for 'The BFG' - Bolton Octagon (puppetry sequences)
    Puppetry Training for Bethnal Green Childrens Museum Gallery Educators.
    Assistant director 'Grim Tales' - Dukes Theatre, Lancaster
    Professional Development Training workshop 'The Animated Other' - Horse and Bamboo.
    Director 'The Enormous Turnip' - Dynamic New Animation
    Artistic Director - 'Puppet Up!' 1997 - 2003 Blackpool Festival of Puppetry and Visual Theatre.
  • 2002
    Artist at the Tate Britain, London, Teacher Librarian Training in Puppetry Techniques for the Young Cultural Creators Literacy Programme.
    Director with Bob Frith 'Skin Deep Circus' Arts Council Research and Development.
    Professional Development Training workshop 'Traditional Techniques to Contemporary Practice' - Horse and Bamboo, Rossendale. Puppetry Director for the Discover Childrens Centre, London - Storybuilders
    Director - 'Chicken Licken' touring shows including the National Theatre, London.
    Company Residency week at Bispham High School Arts College (Year 7) making Carnival Costumes for the Commonwealth Games Parade, Manchester.

    Puppet Centre Active Board member for 5 years.
    Director-'SRE:production' sex and relationship education through puppetry performance
    Director 'Sweetie Pie' - touring show.
    Theatre Centre One week residency at Carden School, Brighton, for production 'Violet and The Angel'
    Barbican Festival consultant to weekend of puppetry activities linked to Julie Taymor 'The King Stag'
    Portsmouth University lecture demonstration for post-grad drama students
    TATE education Two days of Training for Teachers Librarians at Tate Britain.

    Artist in Residence for the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith working with local schools with Shadow theatre inspired by the xmas production of 'Pinocchio'.
    Artist at the Tate Modern using puppetry to bring art alive for children, work inspired by the Louise Bourgeoise installation.
    Forum 28, Barrow artist in residence at Springboard an activity program run by Ashton Group contemporary theatre

  • Specialist Puppetry Workshops for Life Education Drugs Education Centre
  • Artist at the Tate Gallery, London, on 'Constructing Identities' & 'Visual Paths to Literacy'
  • Spec Needs Puppetry Workshop Leader for The Little Angel Theatre
  • Co-ordinator and facilitator of professional development workshops in puppetry for the Edinburgh Puppet and Animation Festival, British Festival Of Visual Theatre, and the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith.
  • Puppets & Poems -Two week residency at St Mary's and St Michael's RC school, London, working with nursery and reception classes on puppetry and visual theatre
  • Artistic Director - Puppet Up!97& 99 Blackpool Festival of Puppetry.
    Education Programme co-ordinator - Puppet Up!97& 99
  • Puppeteer on 'Dr Xargle' TV series for HTV. Straight and reverse scan lip-sync. to pre-recorded soundtrack. Director - Andrew Gosling.
  • Designer/Director of 'I, Object' BAC youth theatre performance.
  • Puppeteer in 'The Kitchen of Life' at BAC 'Time Out Critics Choice'.
  • Blow Down project for Holly Street Public Arts, Hackney.
  • Puppet making workshops for Phoenix Festival & Virgin 96.
  • International Mime Festival workshop with Stephen Mottram.
  • Puppeteer in 'Hotch Potch House' - BBC TV Education
  • Workshop leader for 'Sticking With the Rainforest' Kazzum Arts Project to create rainforest pilot project for school residencies. Drayton Park school.
  • Attended Shadows of the Past, Indian shadow puppetry and dance masterclass with Mrinalini Sarabhai, Norwich Puppet Theatre.

  • 1995
  • Project leader for the Puppet Centre's 'Shadow Me'- special needs puppetry performance project linking schools.
  • Puppet Designer/Maker for 'Tom Thumb and the Dragon' youth theatre project and 'The Adventures of Tom Thumb' for St George's Theatre, Luton.
  • Designer/Maker of life-size puppet for Theatre Workshop, Manchester.
  • 'Technique Meets Fantasy' string puppetry masterclass with Albrecht Roser, Amsterdam Summer University.
  • Puppeteer in 'Muppet Treasure Island' - Jim Henson Productions. Director - Brian Henson.
  • Carnival project at Parliament Hill school. Workshop leader for Kazzum Arts.
  • Puppeteer in 'Tiny & Crew' - The Children's Channel TV. Director - Amelia Johnson.
  • Puppeteer in 'The Picture Stick' special needs show for Caught in the Act T.I.E.
  • Workshop leader for Bermondsey Village SE1 community performance project.
  • Puppeteer with PuppetCraft in 'Sir Fool's Quest' by Adrian Mitchell - National tour. Director - John Roberts.
  • Certificate in woodcarving marionettes at the Little Angel Theatre.
  • Puppeteer/designer in The Cabinet of Hearts, performed at DNA Cabaret - London, Glastonbury Festival, Charleville World Puppetry Festival & LUTKE '95 festival-Slovenia.
  • Puppetry & Mask Workshops - Homerton Teacher Training College, Cambridge & North London University.
  • Assistant Puppeteer for 'Mortimer & Arabella' and 'Artrageous' - BBC TV.
  • 'Where The Wild Things Are' - Maskmaking and Performance with Special Needs children for European project, - Manor Park School, London.
    1993 - 1994
  • Puppeteer with Movingstage Marionette Company in 'All He Fears', by Howard Barker - National Tour
  • Puppeteer for 'Three Billy Goats Gruff' - Children's Rod Puppet Show.
  • Puppeteer and Stage Manager with The Little Angel Marionette Theatre in "Odessa and the Magic Goat", by John Agard - National Tour. Director - Christopher Leith

  • Advanced Diploma in Puppetry - The Central School of Speech and Drama, London. TV Puppetry Workshop with Francis Wright & Richard Coombs. Group Production with Faulty Optic.
  • Commedia dell'arte mask making - Florence, Italy.
  • Stage Manager - Open Zip Theatre Company, Manchester.
  • Chaos Arts - Freelance creative artist leading workshops in Puppetry, Mask Making, Mosaic and Performance Arts in mainstream and spec. needs schools.
  • 'A Piece Of Cake' Mosaic Project - Co Ordinator of 10 spec. needs and mainstream schools, creating a giant mosaic. Presented at Manchester Festival
  • Puppeteer and Stage Manager for "The SuperTed Magic Show" - National tour. Designed, built and performed puppet sequence for show.
  • Certificate in Practical Theatre Arts (Distinction) - The Arden Drama Centre, Manchester.
  • Youth theatre worker for Contact Theatre, Manchester.
  • 'The Dinner Party' - 10 Special Needs Schools Project in Visual and Performance Arts.
  • Certificate in Community and Recreational Arts (Commendation) - Manchester Polytechnic.
  • Trainee Puppeteer with Doo Cot Theatre of Objects and Figures.
All text and images © Dynamic New Animation 2002