Russian Birds and Toy Forests

The beautiful Russian clockwork tin bird manufactured in a St Petersburg toy factory and that I acquired long ago, finally got a starring role in the stage production of Hansel & Gretel. The clever mechanism produces a song from bellows hidden within, but on stage the birdsong is provided by Matthew Kaner’s evocative score and the players of the Goldfield Ensemble. In this segment of film with camerawork by Pete Telfer that’s projected onto the set during performances, the forest is conjured by turned wooden trees from Forge Creative. They were produced as a special order for me by the company, with no polish so that our designer Phil Cooper could paint them a distressed bone-white.  Both in the sections of film and live on stage with the puppets, the trees became one with the sets built from vintage wooden building-blocks that make up the worlds the children create from the contents of their toy-box. And although the puppet, building-blocks and trees are all relatively small, stage cameras live-stream all the action to a large screen above the players.


Hansel & Gretel was commissioned and produced by Goldfield Productions. With music by Matthew Kaner, words by the poet Simon Armitage and directed by me, it has toured through England for the last six months. Just one performance remains to be given, at Letchworth on Nov 4th. Tickets may be purchased:



Above: photograph by Di Ford.


Above: photograph by Still Moving Media

4 thoughts on “Russian Birds and Toy Forests

  1. So sad to have missed it, but looking forward to listening with you to radio 3 on 22nd December, we will gather round the fire with mince pies and mulled wine, what a treat that will be….xxL

  2. Well, as someone who was lucky enough to have been emotionally touched while in the audience for Hansel & Gretel at Canterbury on Sunday, (comments left in the Artlog’s ‘Barbican’ post) I can only say to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, if you have the chance to go… do.
    Love etc…
    B xxx

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