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Feet-uring... Elspeth Dale and Andrew Holt

My goodness, winter wanderers, you've stumbled across ANOTHER blog post!

I don't know if you've heard, but we're producing a little old winter show in partnership with The Dukes and supported by Arts Council England...

(It's The Snow Queen, jeez, where have you been?)

But before our snowy, shadowy, Christmas offering gets underway, we'd like to introduce you to the tree-mendous cast and crew that made it all possible, addressing hard-hitting questions such as 'if you had a superpower, what would it be?' and 'what's your star-sign?' Real gritty stuff.

Here, we have Company Director (and Creative Producer) Elspeth Dale and Andrew Holt Artistic Coordinator (and Workshop Facilitator). Over to you, lads!

Who are you - tell us a bit about yourself!

Elspeth: Hello there! I'm Elspeth and I am one of the founders and company directors at Three Left Feet. In my day to day role, I am the Creative Producer which essentially means I oversee our output from the ideas stage, all the way through to the completed project, and liaise with our lovely creative and professional network to make connections and get our work out there to audiences! I went to Lancaster Uni and studied Theatre and German for my Undergrad and Translation for my Masters... and then I just never left lovely Lancaster. I'm very much a jack of all trades in the company, with my fingers in many different pies - from organisation to lighting to costume making - you name it, I've probably done it.

Andrew: I'm Andrew. I'm Three Left Feet's Artistic Coordinator and Workshop Facilitator, which basically means that I help out wherever I can on upcoming projects, come up with projects of my own to work on and (hopefully one day once COVID has come to an end) run workshops for the community. On the side, I'm a big history and languages buff and an even bigger history of languages buff. My favourite periods are early medieval and latin American (thanks to my Spanish degree).

What do you do for 3LF's The Snow Queen and how would you describe your role(s)?

Elspeth: I am one of the lead artists and designers on The Snow Queen. Together with Andrew, we took Lara's wonderful script and decided on the aesthetic for the production. In the run up to filming, I designed and made all the puppets - this meant spending a lot of time cutting out individual limbs and baking them in the oven. Yes you read correctly - I used shrink plastic as my main material, because it is light, durable and versatile - don't say I don't think outside of the box (and unleash my inner child more regularly than is generally deemed appropriate)! During the recording and editing process, I have headed up the technical side of the vocal recordings, as well as being a lead puppeteer, and I also edited the footage into the final product! Alongside this, I'm in charge of venue liaison and all of those organisational titbits.

Andrew: On top of being the set designer for the puppetry, I'm also one of the lead puppeteers. This means I've spent the past few weeks making lots of scrap card in order to make the various scenes and settings for The Snow Queen as well as playing around with puppets to develop characteristics and movements to fit the voice actors. On top of that I also directed the actors during the voice-over recordings, which basically consisted of asking the actors to make lots of weird and wonderful noises into a microphone.

What's the reason you got involved with theatre?

Andrew: I first got involved in theatre when I was about 10 years old. Initially it was just to help develop my confidence as I was a very shy kid. And help my confidence it certainly did, with a few side-effects. Mostly that I'm now obsessed with theatre and haven't stopped since.

What is the best part of your job?

Elspeth: The best part of my job is being able to make the theatre that I'm excited about, and getting the chance to collaborate with a whole range of extremely talented artists and performers. I love planning ideas and imagining the creative possibilities for different productions, as well as getting hands on and crafting things for shows (particularly puppets, if you hadn't guessed), and my job lets me do both of those things - what more could you want?

Andrew: Being able to play to your heart's desire and get paid for it (most of the time).

What is your favourite show that you have seen?

Elspeth: I don't know if I could pick just one, but my favourites have always found innovative ways to weave puppetry into the production. The Grinning Man at Trafalgar Studios, Pinocchio at the National Theatre and The Wild Bride by Kneehigh Theatre Co. at the Lyric, Hammersmith are a few of my longstanding favourites. They've all weaved together every aspect that goes into making a magical performance in genuinely awe-inspiring ways.

What have you found rewarding in this production?

Andrew: Exploring a new medium in shadow puppetry. It's totally different to anything I've done before and it's absolutely magical. I can't wait to explore it further. It never ceases to amaze me when shadow puppets somehow manage to act like live people and not just inanimate objects being puppeted.

What's going to surprise people about this show?

Elspeth: That shadow puppetry isn't just making dogs and rabbits with your hands! Shadow puppets can be very intricate and emotive and are a really underutilised medium, in my opinion anyway. There is also something beautiful about the simplicity and very unashamed theatricality of shadow puppets, which I just adore and I think other people will love too.

Who should watch this show, and why?

Andrew: Absolutely everyone. Not only is it a fantastic story that is fantastically acted, the shadow puppetry brings that extra air of theatre magic that you simply don't get from standard live theatre. I firmly believe that new and veteran theatre goers will be utterly wowed by this show.

Without wild spoilers, tell us one of your favourite lines.

Elspeth: "Who is this crazed bird?" I shan't explain, you'll have to see for yourself.

What's your favourite thing about winter?

Elspeth: My favourite thing about winter is getting to wrap up warm in lots of woolly layers - oh and cold, crisp, sunny mornings. And sledging when it snows. Okay, I like a lot of things about winter.

Andrew: Honestly, the food and drink. My all time favourite has to be stollen with a side of gluhwein. Lots of sweet, warming food and drink.

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Elspeth: I love everything about Christmas, I firmly agree with Andy Williams, it IS the most wonderful time of the year. My favourite traditions are nothing unusual, but I love having all the decorations up, going to bed before midnight so you're not awake when Father Christmas comes, and opening my stocking with my family on Christmas morning - yes, I still demand a stocking from my parents. Yes, I am 24.

Quality Street, Roses, Heroes or Celebrations?

Andrew: Now that's a tough one. Though I think ultimately it has to be Celebrations. Even with the infamous Bounty.

What's your star-sign (and what's the most [star-sign] thing about you)?

Elspeth: I'm an Aries. And the most Aries thing about me is everything. Ask anyone. I'm also a Gryffindor. And an ENTJ. What can I say, I have a brand and I stick to it.

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

Andrew: Scrambled, on toast with some chopped chorizo.

Which Disney Princess are you most like, and why?

Elspeth: I'd like to consider myself a Belle or a Tiana. Or if we're going leading ladies, even an Esmerelda for that matter (according to Buzzfeed this is indeed the case, so that's pretty much a fact).

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Andrew: Teleportation, I'd be able to see the world in no time and save a lot of money on plane tickets whilst I'm at it.

Thanks pals!

Did Elspeth and Andrew's interview get you festive and theatre ready? Good! Keep an eye out for more information about The Snow Queen's online stream here!

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