A brief history of the company
FaultyOptic broke down the British audience's concept of puppetry by producing an entertaining mixture of non-verbal drama, surreal imagery, mechanical theatre and animated objects and figures. The Company was founded in 1987 by Liz Walker and Gavin Glover. Back then they combined their experience of working with puppets at the Little Angel Marionette Theatre, London, their interest in 3D film animation (Jan Svankmejer, Quay Brothers) automata (Paul Spooner), mechanical and scrap sculpture (Tinguely) and mime to produce a bizarre puppet theatre for adults.
FaultyOptic created worlds unique to the puppet characters which inhabit them. The strange tales that unfold and the atmosphere of dislocated reality has often been described as Beckettian, Pythonesque or similar to the French cult film 'Delicatessen' and David Lynch's 'Eraserhead'.
Increasingly FaultyOptic explored the use of live-feed video projection, simple film animation and pre-recorded video. This enabled them to use different mediums eg water and small intricate backgrounds and environments which could be projected large (see 'Bubbly Beds', 'Tunnel Vision' in 'shows') and to use sequences of action which would be impossible in live theatre, eg burning boats and slow-motion running into oblivion. (see 'Over the Edge' in 'other', 'Tunnel Vision')
The audiences for the work of FaultyOptic increased steadily over the years. The Company often performed to packed houses. Their work was popular with the general public, art, drama and film students and was often accessible to those who have little experience of live theatre because of its strong visual nature and humour.
Categorised as 'puppetry for adults' this term is not exclusive, and, although containing gory details and oblique happenings, their shows have been enjoyed by many children accompanying their families and by audiences of 'young people' in Britain and abroad.
FaultyOptic toured extensively abroad and have presented their shows in most Western European countries as well as Canada, America and Indonesia. Most of the shows had few or no words which is ideal for an international audience. Foreign audiences see the work as being typically British - eccentric and often shocking imagery mixed with a dark, ironic but warm humour.
FaultyOptic always remained a small unit, working closely with two or three others when creating and performing shows. These included musicians and composers (eg John Winfield, Hugh Nankivell, Dominic Sales, Daniel Padden, Charles Webber) and automata makers (eg Martin Smith and Jim Bond see links page). This enabled the company to tour its remarkable shows consistently over a long period of time, constantly changing and improving them.
Although Liz Walker and Gavin Glover are working apart now their future aspirations still include more experimentation with film, video and animation, exploring other ways of performing and staging puppets, and creating installations and site specific pieces.
My Pig Speaks Latin, Dolly Death’s Cabinet (1988)Three pieces based on the themes of power, greed, religion and obsession. 'Very different, very good. " Time Out. Toured Britain and Europe.
Snuffhouse Dustlouse (1990) Based on the theme of isolation, it studied a character's withdrawal from the world and final revelation. "We're transfixed by magic. " The Guardian, "Terrifiant et magnifique!" Le Monde. Toured world wide until 2006.
Darwin’s Dead Herring (1993) Based on the theme of evolution and Creation. 'Part entertainment, partnightmare and the sort of piece which makes you want to go back a second time. " Huddersfield Examiner, '.....une heure quinze de voyage dans un castelet suspendu dans le cosmos. ' Liberation. Toured Britain and Europe.
Shot at the Troff (1996) A trilogy based on the futility of competition, a romp in a flooded basement and a disturbing tale of consequence. Featured highly acclaimed live video projected underwater marionettes. Toured Britain and Europe. '..a classic of modern puppet and object theatre 'Animations magazine. Entre hilarite, stupefaction, malaise et frisson. Du grand art, vraiment. Ouest-Franc
Bubbly Beds (1996) The 28 minute underwater video section originally performed in the Shot at the Troff trilogy was taken out and toured in it’s own right to France and to New York in 1998.
Tunnelvision (1998) Based on imprisonment and freedom. It includes zeppelin dreams, frustrated tea parties and a video-projected miniature ghost-train ride. It toured around England and France until 2006.
'...brilliantly eccentric.... ' The Guardian
Soiled (2002) A twisted love story, clumsey clowning routines and a trip to Hades, toured the UK and Europe until 2008.
Wax Inspector (2003) Collaboration with musician/composer Hugh Nankivell for Opera North 1st Resonace Festival
Licked (2004) Collaboration with musician/composer Dominic Sales and writer Edward Carey for Opera North 2nd Resonace Festival
HorseHead (2005) Hospital hauntings, sound machines and a clown with a bayonet. Music by Daniel Padden and written by Edward Carey.
Dead Wedding(2007) Commissioned by OperaNorth and Manchester International Festival. Collaboration with Mira Calix
FishClayPerspex(2009) by Liz Walker
Flogging a DEAD horse (2011) by Gavin Glover