Meet Fred A Two Foot High Puppet Who Fights Prejudice

Monday 08 May, 2017 Written by 
Meet Fred Meet Fred

Meet Fred, the two foot tall cloth puppet that fights prejudice every day. He just wants to be a regular guy, part of the real world, to get a job and meet a girl, but when threatened with losing his PLA (Puppetry Living Allowance), Fred’s life begins to spiral out of his control. Contains strong language and puppet nudity.

Hijinx and Inclusion Hijinx is an inclusive theatre company based in Cardiff, all their productions include learning disabled performers alongside performers without learning disability. To support their work, they have a network of Academies around Wales that train learning disabled performers in a variety of skills. The Company provides this training because it is virtually impossible for an actor with learning disability to access more traditional drama schools or universities.

When ready, students from their Academies join the Company on their  professional productions. This ensures that our work is always of the highest quality, with all artists starting a process on an equal footing. Meet Fred features three of our performers with learning disability, all of whom were heavily involved in the devising of the production. 

Blind Summit

Based in London, Blind Summit is recognised as one of the UK’s most exciting companies working with puppetry. They have had huge success with productions such as The Table and Citizen Puppet, and often work with companies such as Complicite and ENO. Hijinx came into contact with Blind Summit in April 2014 when we invited them to run a week’s training in puppetry for our Academy students in Cardiff. We were joined by three of their artists, including Artistic Director Mark Down, it was during this week that the seed for making an inclusive production with a puppet was sown. 

The Process

‘...As we explored the concept of creating an inclusive show with a puppet, the parallels between life for a puppet, and the learning-disabled artists that we work with quickly became apparent. Just as many of the people that we work with rely on support in order to live an independent life, so Fred relies on his three puppeteers simply to exist. The relationship of dependence and interdependence that exists between Fred and his puppeteers is the exact same situation that many people with learning disability and disability in general face in their everyday life. Inevitably during a devising process it is the people that you have in the room that ultimately influence in what direction a piece may go, and crucially what their experience is of the world at any given time. As we were making this show, many of our learning disabled performers were living through the current overhaul of the benefits system by our wonderful Tory government...’

‘...We began to explore how life would be for Fred if he also lived in this environment, what would happen if Fred is threatened with losing his Puppetry Living Allowance, what would Fred be without his puppeteers, would he even survive? Suddenly, instead of the whimsical, light puppet show we had envisaged, we had a serious political message on our hands, but one that could be presented with hilarity and made seem all the more ridiculous when seen through the eyes of our puppet hero Fred...’

Meet Fred 01

Image: Meet Fred

Following a successful run at Summerhall as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016, Meet Fred is touring extensively in 2017:

Sharp, funny and vastly entertaining”, Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

Meet Fred Tour Dates 2017

Date Venue
20 - 21 January Chapter, Cardiff
24 - 25 January Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath
27 January Neuadd Dwyfor, Pwllheli
28 January Galeri Caernarfon
01 February Halliwell Theatre, UWTSD *Closed Perf*
02 - 04 February Salisbury Playhouse
06 February Soar Centre, Penygraig
07 February The Electric Theatre, Guildford
08 February The Woodville Theatre, Gravesend
09 February The Spring, Havant
10 February Ashcroft Arts Centre
11 February Cornerstone, Didcot
21 February York Theatre Royal
22 – 25 February Back to Ours Festival, Hull
28 February South Street, Reading
01 - 05 March Little Angel Theatre, London
07 March Theatr Mwldan, Cardigan
08 March Newbury Corn Exchange
09 March Old Fire Station, Oxford
10 March Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester
14 March Artrix, Bromsgrove
15 March Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton
16 March Carriageworks Theatre, Leeds
17 March Junction, Goole
18 March Lichfield Garrick
21 March The New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
22 March IMPACT, Perivale
23 March Hertford Theatre
25 March Norwich Playhouse
29 March Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre, Taunton
31 March Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
01 April Hafren, Newtown
04 April Aberystwyth Arts Centre
05 – 07 April The Albany, Canada Water Culture Space
08 April Ffwrnes, Llanelli
26 April Queen's Hall Arts Centre, Hexham
27 April Square Chapel Centre for the Arts, Halifax
28 April The Grand Theatre Blackpool
02 May Mumford Theatre, Cambridge
03 May ARC Stockton
04 May Barnsley Civic
05 May Rosehill Theatre, Whitehaven
06 May Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
09 May mac birmingham
10 May Borough Theatre, Abergavenny
11 – 13 May Theatr Clwyd, Mold
19 - 21 May Brighton Fringe 

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