Charlotte Jarvis talks ‘Trinkets’ – her show for Nottingham Puppet Festival

Date published: 25 Jun 2021

Posted by: Joe Pick

Extract from Trinkets poster - illustration of a tricycle with boxes and cases on it

Charlotte Jarvis of Giddy Kipper Theatre is a performer, theatre maker, director and puppet maker. She is one of five young artists to receive a City Arts bursary supporting them to create a show for the Nottingham Puppet Festival.

Charlotte’s show Trinkets is dedicated to the bits and bobs found on dusty shelves, lofts, garages and forgotten Antique shops. Based around ideas of memories, make do and mend and reusing old things, the show encourages sharing personal stories from beloved trinkets and reusing old books, clothes and furniture.

A jumble of old items from charity shops
Items from ‘Trinkets’ – Charlotte’s Puppet Show

We spoke to Charlotte about the show, the support she has received from City Arts and her plans for the future. Read the interview below.

Hi Charlotte. Tell us about you show, and how it came about?

“I am and it’s my first solo commission so I’m excited and nervous for the final performance! ‘Trinkets’ started when I was browsing an antique shop (one of my favourite pass times). I stumbled across a beautiful red tricycle and immediately thought of a thousand things I could do with it. With a bit of savings, I decided to take the plunge and bought it. With a sketchbook full of scribbles and chatting to family and friends about my ideas the general consensus was that ‘Trinkets’ sounded the most intriguing. I sat on the ideas for a long while until I saw City Arts call out for new ideas then bish, bash, bosh I got the funding!

‘Trinkets’ is a love letter from me to all things old, being a big lover of storytelling whenever I would come across objects older than myself I can’t help but wonder what they have seen, heard, experienced and lost. In this show I wanted to bring these stories to life and bring new life to old things. I think that intergenerational relationships are so important, having wonderful Grandparents that shared countless stories from their lifetime inspired me from a young age till this very day. I hope that this show is enjoyed by grandchildren and grandparents alike, bringing them together after a pretty lonely year.”

Floral fabrics and scarves
Items from ‘Trinkets’ – Charlotte’s Puppet Show

Why did you choose puppetry to tell this story?

“From day one I’ve always been infatuated by puppets; Rosie and Jim, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street and Bagpuss to only name a few! Theres something about puppets that captures audiences that performers can’t. Puppets, I think, are the bridge between the audience’s world and the performers, it’s so much easier for people to project their emotions and experiences onto a puppet and audiences are more willing to interact and play with a fuzzy felted frog!

Puppets bring a different energy to a performance, they can break the laws of physics, be transported to distant shores or resemble objects you meet on the day-to-day. As an avid clown I always like to make sure that fun and play is at the heart of what I do, I tend to find when I have a puppet by my side, audiences are more willing to join in with the silliness.”

You were awarded a bursary from City Arts to develop this show. How has this helped you?

“Massively! I really couldn’t have created this show without the wonderful help from City Arts. Being a show based around second hand things, the bursary has allowed me to scour charity shops, car boots and antique shops for the perfect materials (without a massive price attached!) The bursary has funded the creation of the set, puppets and story of the show, with lovely chats with City Arts giving me advice on build, admin and getting it programmed at other festivals.”

What are your top tips for people starting out on their creative journey?

“If you have an idea, stay with it. Even if you don’t get funding keep it locked away somewhere, Trinkets has been floating around in my atmosphere for over a year before the opportunity came with City Arts. Creating theatre is a slow-burn so enjoy creating the fire and take the time to make sure you’re not getting burnt out to quickly! With Creatives emerging from the Covid crisis tired and worn we’ve got to be mindful of how we look after ourselves, 12 hours + days is only going to get the work done, it’s not going to get it done well.

A pile of leather suitcases
Items from ‘Trinkets’ – Charlotte’s Puppet Show

Another Tip I’d give to new theatre makers is; learn everything there is to know about theatre. Don’t just stick to the making and performing, learn how to create set and costumes. Learn how to market and budget the creation of a show. Learn how to write your own risk assessments and how to do your own tech. Learn how to write applications for funding pots and how to manage money. Even if you then don’t go on to use these skills in your career you’ll definitely appreciate the work people do behind the scenes a lot more as without all of these factors the show cannot go on”

What are your plans for the future?

“I’d love to get Trinkets programmed at other festivals and events so the puppets can go out and meet as many new people as they can. There might be some new puppets for the show in the pipeline that I can switch in and out but at the moment I’m planning on contacting other festivals to hopefully get programmed (So keep everything crossed for me).

There are a few more puppet shows that I have floating around that I’d love to bring to life one day but I’ll have to wait for the right time and right funding pot to come along to help me develop them further. My plan for the future is to keep creating work that’s fun for everyone as the great Charlie Chaplin once said ‘A day without laughter is a day wasted.’”

Find out more about Charlotte’s work