Space Hippo

21 06 2022

Space Hippo 

Assembly George Square

August 4 -29, 10.20am

Earth is dying. We can't do anything to stop it. Our only hope is to launch a hippo into space. Along the way she will encounter new worlds, strange alien creatures and end up at the centre of an intergalactic war. 

Hilarious, weird and epic science fiction from Japan, experienced through award-winning cinematic shadow puppetry. The performers project over two hundred handmade puppets onto a large screen to create a live analogue motion picture before your very eyes. 

Gareth K Vile: What is it about puppetry that encourages you to use it to make performance?

 Daniel Wishes, writer, Mochinosha Puppet Co.: My partner Seri and I both enjoy making visual theatre and telling stories. However, neither of us like to be in the spotlight. We’re a bit shy.  Puppetry allows us to bring many characters to life without putting the focus on ourselves. We enjoy the process of crafting the puppets and discovering new ways to use them. It feels like we can make entire worlds using only paper and a craft knife. We also love talking in silly voices.

Do you see your work in any kind of tradition, or are there artists that you would call peers (or have influenced you)?

Our style of shadow puppetry doesn’t follow a tradition but was heavily influenced by Indonesian shadow puppetry, western style shadow puppetry and Japanese magic lantern shows. We are also very influenced by comic books and movies. I think that taking inspiration from so many different sources is part of what makes our style of shadow puppetry unique. We are very big fans of puppetry. We watch as many shows as we can, and are always excited to meet other puppeteers and learn about their work.

What kind of response do you get from audiences for the puppets?

The word we hear a lot is “charming.” There is just something about puppetry that is incredibly charming. Perhaps it’s because audiences are used to seeing very realistic CGI creatures being brought to life in Hollywood movies. We’re just waving around bits of paper, glued to sticks. 

The audience uses their imagination to believe that the puppets are real. They’re contributing as much to the show as we are. Whenever we have time after a show, we lay out a few dozen puppets across the stage so that audience members can come see them up close and ask us questions. One of my favourite comments ever was from a woman in the audience who looked carefully at one of the puppets and then said “How dare you! You made me cry over a piece of paper.”

After seeing our show, children, and occasionally adults, will go home and make their own shadow puppets. They send us pictures. It’s an amazing feeling to know that we could inspire someone.