Puffin receives Creative Scotland funding

Independent Arts Projects is pleased as punch to announce that we’ve been awarded £50,000 from Creative Scotland to research, develop and tour PUFFIN a new work for children aged 7+, telling the story of a displaced girl and her friendship with a puffin.

PUFFIN is by SNAP ELASTIC (Eszter Marsalkó, Alice Mary Cooper and Claire Willoughby) and will tour small-scale venues, arts centres and libraries across Scotland in late autumn 2018.  

A girl’s life is uprooted when she finds out that her family are moving to the other side of the world.  She meets and befriends a puffin and it is through this friendship that we explore how we deal with change (including migration and climate change).

“When we marvel at that blue marble in all its delicacy and frailty, and resolve to save the planet, we cast ourselves in a very specific role. That role is of a parent, the parent of the earth. But the opposite is the case. It is we humans who are fragile and vulnerable and the earth that is hearty and powerful, and holds us in its hands.“ (Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything)

Puffin will explore how we deal with change and face our fears.  Snap Elastic, formed of three migrant women artist-collaborators who have all come to call Scotland home, has envisaged a three-dimensional young girl as the central character, a child with agency. Puffin will ask questions about how we see the role of young people in our society, relations between children and adults and convey a central theme about the strength of human relationships and the core values of friendship and community.

Using object and costume manipulation, clowning, movement, and live music, Snap Elastic will create a rich and engaging story that connects with its audience and allows audience members to connect with each other.

The production aims for audiences to:

  • Feel warmed by the story and shared experience;
  • Be brimming with questions and conversation starters specifically about puffins, climate change, risk and the nature of the relationship between the puffin and the girl;
  • Feel inspired by seeing something beautiful and thought provoking;
  • Think about their place in the world, and their responsibility toward protecting it- and species that don’t have a voice.

Having shared the story of the girl and the puffin we aim for the audience to make the conversation about climate change an integral part of our everyday lives and to talk about our fears associated with change in general, where they come from, and how we can overcome them.

The Puffin first flew to our attention while Alice Mary Cooper was working at the Scottish Seabird Centre performing shows about seabirds for young people. The Centre’s mascot is a puffin and Alice noticed how quickly and excitedly young people went toward it- there is something infectiously happy and inherently funny about puffins, the ‘clowns of the sea’.

However, whilst perhaps perceived as joyous birds, puffins are facing a serious threat to their survival due to climate change. Due to warming seas, their food source is travelling further and further north, pushing them extreme distances to fish, away from their homes. This fragile and likeable creature facing real problems due to human induced global warming, seemed like the perfect character to help engage children and young people in discussion about and, ultimately, hopefully, action on climate change.

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