Hello! We're Nod at the Fox, an emerging puppetry theatre company
based in Cambridgeshire.
We create ambitious shows where the puppets, lighting, storytelling and action are all in the control of the performers onstage. Give us any old room with some thick curtains and we'll reveal a magical universe that you never knew was lurking there!
Hello hello. I’m Eden. AKA “that guy with the smoking fox”. I often find it hard to talk about myself. There’s an awful lot of pressure, isn’t there? First impressions and all. Basically, I make theatre and I thoroughly enjoy miserably rainy days, puppetry and dancing in any acceptable space (although it usually occurs in the bathroom or on a stage).
Hey! I'm Sam. I love stories, it's a fundamental part of me. I
don't think there's a better way of getting someone to feel or think
something than to cleverly weave it into characters, narrative and
plot twists! I'm a big fan of juggling, fantasy novels, trampolining,
coding and learning about anything that gets my brain churning.
Definitely categorically 100% based on true events; through music, absurd soulful metaphors and chain smoking puppets, Eden tells the emotional and tragic tale of an exponentially unfortunate fox… Burning Tails is a one-man tragicomedy piece following a series of heartbreaking events within a fox's romantic life, which takes him on a deep downward spiral. This crazed puppeteer clearly has a fragmented relationship with love.
Using puppetry, household lamps and a highly dramatic over-score, Eden blends truth and fantasy to create a textured visceral style. Don’t be fooled by the cuddly toys. If you thought this was going to be a children’s show… You thought wrong.
“Genius suicidal squirrel puppet show” - Sh!t Theatre
Now available for touring. Requires very minimal technical support from venues.
Tiffany is twisting and turning and her mind won’t stop whirring, she just can’t fall asleep! As a fairy tale enthusiast she knows that the only thing that keeps people awake is a PEA hidden underneath her bed. Join Tiffany as she adventures down through the mattress worlds, helping the bed folk that she meets along her adventure. But look out Tiffany, the further down you go the closer you get to the monster that lives under the bed!
PEA is a fantastical family puppetry show for children five and over. The show is filled with mischievous characters, imaginative lighting, enchanting soundscapes and one big epic adventure!
The show is currently in the midst of creation, and will be available for theatre and community space touring in 2020.
Upcoming preview performances:
2pm on Saturday the 27th of April: Saint Andrews Centre, Histon.
2pm on Sunday the 5th of May: Meldreth Village Hall.
Nod at the Fox continues to run workshops for theatre students around the Cambridge area. We explore many forms of puppetry: one person, ensemble, junk puppetry, puppetry construction, shadow puppetry, storytelling and devising with puppets.
Day 1: 21/1/19
This was the first ever rehearsal day of PEA and in fact the first ever rehearsal day for Nod at the Fox. I’m not gonna lie to you it was very fun! We brought in a metric ton of bits and bobs. Anything we thought we might want to play around with, lights, juggling balls, half built puppets.
First things first, as is always the best thing to do when beginning creation progress for a new devised show, we performed it (an improved version of course). Got some atmospheric music and lighting going and settle down the imaginary audience of kids (they were incredibly well behaved). and we did a highly… interesting one and a half hour version of PEA.
It’s like a devised family puppetry shows version of a read through; although, with a couple more random moments covered in a sheet of paper pretending to be a distressed shepherd.
Day 2: 22/1/19
Making a puppetry show with only two people has been forcing us to find quick fixes and cheat ways to create certain images. For example, above is a cardboard cutout of Tiffany instead of the puppet, to create a clear image of her reading whilst we briefly recite the original story of the Princess and the Pea.
There are always times in the rehearsal day where you slightly descend into madness. If you can exploit these times with creativity, then you’re laughing. Today concluded with recording some strange noises for a tiny cardboard finger puppet show. Devised theatre makers might be able to relate to this, and they might not. I don’t really know what’s normal anymore.
Day 3: 23/1/19
I’ve never actually made a proper puppet before. Actually, I think I might have made one at school once out of yogurt pots but I’m not going to lie it wasn’t very good all. But here you go, my first ever puppet in the flesh, white gaffer-tape flesh that is. It’s… well... its okay, but that’s fine at this point.
Whenever you’re embarking on a creative project which combines many forms of art such as music, writing, acting, puppetry, circus, holograms, magic, avian choreography (not all of these will be in PEA), you’re going to come across some challenges that you just can’t do yourself. That’s where partners and associates come in extremely handy. As you develop as an artist it is also really important to build your artistic network around you. We’ve got some really exciting designers lined up to try and turn the PEA scratch puppets into highly imaginative characters. I can’t wait to see what Tiffany here ends up like!
Day 4: 24/1/19
Heard of a play in a day? Well we’re making a show in a week. It’s not as catchy which is a shame. It’s day 4, and we’re performing a scratch of 'PEA.' in 5 days time. Setting yourself this kind of pressure is very useful if you want to create a lot of content very quickly. However, even though we came into day 1 with the narrative already very fleshed out, we’ve still set ourselves quite a challenge here. Hence why hours have to be put in beyond the rehearsal room. Whether its improving our puppets, developing the sound design or writing script - that invested time becomes vital.
We made a load of random props today, with whatever was easily available. It’s tempting to add making a certain prop on to the long list of things to do - but we just thought, nip it in the bud, let’s make it now. Without this attitude, nothing will get done (especially not before the scratch next week!). For example earlier Sam quickly made some prototype bed-bugs, in the picture above. Bosch. Done. That was easy. We spent this morning recording their voices on Garageband and laughing an awful lot listening back to them after raising the pitch. You kind of had to be there for that one I guess.
Day 5: 25/1/19
Well that was the end of our rehearsal week at Cambridge Junction and guess what... the show isn’t finished. Though it nearly is so we’re not too worried. The main thing that we aim to do is maximise the use of a rehearsal room/space. As an emerging company it can be really hard to find good affordable rehearsal space, so when you do you gotta use it to its full potential. That predominantly means if there is something you can do outside of a rehearsal space, don’t do it inside the rehearsal space or at least try not too (in our case: sound editing, prop making and line learning).
Rehearsal weeks disappear faster than rabbits in hats, as proven by this week. But we’re able to edit our sound and make our props this weekend before our showing next week, so hopefully all will be ready for our scratch.
Day 1: 4/2/19
I am writing this from the swanky Traverse Theatre foyer, having just watched our first Manipulate event “Testroom”, a mix of 4 very contracting works-in-progress which we gave feedback on ourselves. We made our trek to Scotland yesterday. We’re staying in Dunfermline and the image above if the lovely view from the train to Edinburgh. And in 10 minutes we’re about to watch Wunderkammer which looks pretty epic - so my time is very limited....
WOW. I’ve never seen marionette puppetry like that before. Incredible. Bizarre and hilarious. Beautifully detailed and delicate. And to top it off, tomorrow we start a 3 day workshop (“Things on Strings”) with the company from Germany: Figurentheater Tübingen. Couldn't have had a better introduction to their style. I mean look at this picture. Pumped.
Day 2: 5/2/19
Today was our first full day of Manipulate Festival. We started off with the first day of the ‘Things on Strings’ workshop run by Figurentheater Tuebingen, responsible for the magical marionette puppet show Wunderkammer. The workshop was very interestring (pun intended). It turns out that the fundamental marionette is a pendulum, so that’s where we spent the morning. You’d be surprised how much drama you can get out of an apple on a string.
Our favourite part of the day was building our own marionette puppet. If you’ve never built one before, it’s surprisingly possible. Just need a feather, nuts, string and a glue gun. From this you can create a little creatures that’s able to swim through the air, explore the world around them and bahh like a sheep which Eden was very proud of for some reason.
In the evening we watched three shows with the highlight an incredible performance of Vu by Compagnie Sacékripa. The show has no music but even in silence we were transfixed by the adventures this one man went on simply sitting at the edge of a tiny table. It made me laugh it made me cry… with laughter. Basically it was just highly entertaining, hilarious exploration of objects. I loved every second and was sad to see him leave at the end.
Day 3: 6/2/19
Another wicked day. Things on Strings keeps on giving surprises. We’re quite close to the group now, which of course holds many a personality. Today we worked with sticks (amongst other things and materials), and explored all the variations of character you can have just by changing their walk. We also went into studio one of Dance Base Scotland just so we could rig strings into the ceiling and puppeteer from a considerable distance. We did this with paper individually and vast sheets as a group which was magical.
After today’s workshop we met up with Alex Bird from Tortoise in a Nutshell, another alumni from our Hills Road Sixth Form College. It was awesome to discuss both his and our work in a way that was very relatable to us at the stage we’re at as a company. Lovely guy.
This evening was saw Invisible Lands by Livsmedlet Theatre from Finland. A piece based on migration and the refugee crisis told through miniatures, bodies, and rich soundscapes. It was our cup of tea. And it was delicious.
More tomorrow. Need to sleep.
Day 4: 7/2/19
It was our last day of the Things on Strings workshop by by Figurentheater Tuebingen, it was time to make our first real five string marionette. It’s as fiddly as you would imagine especially as we were using dust sheets as the main material. I must say that I did not master this challenge but I loved it all the same. Eden and I have a weirdly logistical and mathematical minds (well weird maybe for the fringe theatre industry) so we found there was something wonderful about the pairing of art and creativity but then also mechanics, in the art of making marionettes.
After two hours of losing strings and trying desperately we all had little ghostly creatures stomping around the room. I spent ages trying to get mine to do certain things till I was told that there is no point trying to impose your will on the puppet. This may seem really strange when a puppet is fundamentally a character/being controlled by an actor. In truth you can’t make a puppet do something it can’t, instead you need to find what it can do and what it can do really well and integrate that into your shows. There’s no point in directing a whole scene, act or show before you cast it and bring in the actors. It’s the same with puppets, get them into the rehearsal room as early as possible because they’ll be a wonderful guide in creating, directing and devising
Day 5: 8/2/19
Our last day at Manipulate. I am now ill and have been in bed for most of the day, leaving Sam to venture into Edinburgh alone this morning. However I joined in time for tonight’s shows of course. First up: Beguiled by Invisible Thread. Two awesome small pieces put together. One with very fun guided audience interaction called Cat Mother, and the other with some hilarious slapstick. Next: Sleeping Beauty by Compagnie Akselere (France), a dark and charming fairy-tale telling of Collette’s life through object theatre and shadow puppetry. And finally: Transmographiles by Hopeful Monster, a wonderful and enchanting timeline of the animal kingdom’s evolution, shown by 6 human hands and human hand extensions (also in the form of tiny/huge human hand puppets). Their style was beautiful, playful and refreshing - and the company is composed of ex-Curious School of Puppetry students, which makes me very VERY excited to begin what looks like an incredible course in a couple of weeks time.
It’s safe to say this has been an epic visual arts festival which we highly recommend to anyone who wants delve a bit deeper into the puppetry world. You simply won’t regret it. Somehow over the course of this week, everytime we come back to the Traverse Theatre bar we’ve made more friends in one way or another that we can have a friendly chat to and discuss the performances of the day with. There really is a community of lovely people that Manipulate has built over its existence.
If you have any questions about our shows, workshops, performance dates, anything at all really, feel free to email either of us:
We also have a Facebook page
and a twitter acount here.
I think we even have an Instagram acount, is that right eden? I'm not sure how I'd link that on here. Its almost definitely called NodattheFox!
We'd love to hear from you, so get in contact any way you'd like!