Celebrating the life and work of festival founder

Chris Agnew recording for Only Smarties Have the Answer in her airing cupboard in Flagg in 2006.
Chris Agnew recording for Only Smarties Have the Answer in her airing cupboard in Flagg in 2006.

At the Paupers Pit this Saturday, Buxton Puppet Festival 2013 and the Green Man Gallery will screen a special performance of Only Smarties Have the Answer, by Aidan Shingler and the Antidotes.

This week is also the last chance to see the exhibition Fun and Wonder in the window of the Green Man Gallery – the exhibition ends on Saturday.

The film, by Chris Smart, and the exhibition are part of Funny Wonders’ and Green Man Gallery’s celebration of the life and work of one of Buxton’s artistic movers and shakers, Chris Agnew, who died in 2012.

Chris was a puppeteer and co-founder of both Funny Wonders and the Buxton Puppet Festival

In Only Smarties Have the Answer, artist Aidan Shingler tells stories from his own and others’ experiences of ‘psychiatric hospitality’. Combining wit and pathos, his accounts are illustrated in a series of puppet sketches in the knockabout style of Punch and Judy.

The live show toured in Derbyshire and Greater Manchester from 2006 to 2008 to great acclaim.

The main characters in the sketches are Aidan, fellow patient Judy, Nurse Bedlam, and ‘the doyen of dementia, bain of the barmy, Professor Oedipus Punch’.

A powerful example of how puppetry can deal with serious issues, the show is a shocking indictment of a system that does not always appear to operate in the best interests of those whom it claims to treat.

The puppets were made by Chris Agnew, and operated by Chris and by Langley Brown. Voices were by Aidan, Chris, Langley, Doug Agnew, and Kayleigh McDonald.

The shadow puppetry scenes were by Doug, and the sound effects were by Laurie Agnew.

Direction was by Aidan, with additional direction by Sorrel Thomas and Nenagh Watson.

Proceeds from the event will be shared between Ashgate Hospice, Funny Wonders, the Green Man Gallery, and Aidan Shingler’s Star Disc project to create a Star Disc arena in each of the English regions; see www.stardiscenterprise.co.uk.

The screening of Only Smarties Have the Answer will take place on July 27 at 7.30pm, at the Paupers Pit in the Old Hall Hotel, Buxton.

For tickets, priced £4, contact the Buxton Opera House Box Office on 0845 127 2190 or visit www.buxtonoperahouse.org.uk.