Manipulate Festival returns to Edinburgh in 2024

On February 1-11th 2024, Manipulate Festival will return to the cobbled streets of Edinburgh, bringing visually led works to some of the City’s most unique venues and spaces.

Founded in 1984, Manipulate Arts focus their work on art forms that breathe life into the inanimate and tell stories using primarily images rather than text. Using manipulation and play across art forms like puppetry, objects, digital imagery, the human body, circus, theatre, and more, Manipulate Festival seeks to explore the opportunities each form of artistry provides; to discover magic in the everyday; and to find common visual languages beyond the reach of words.

Manipulate Festival 2024 interrogates the many ways in which we relate to the world around us and explores visions of the future – what is in store for us globally and as individuals, our relationship to the climate that surrounds us, how technology can hinder and help us, and how we form our identity in relation to culture.

The festival is passionate about ensuring that the broadest possible range of people can access the festivals performances. Manipulate consistently strives to provide clear and accessible venues, in order for options to be maximised by the public.

As the work presented during Manipulate Festival is primarily visual, they are particularly committed to improving experiences of the festival for d/Deaf audiences. In 2024, the 17th edition of the festival will be presenting a range of work including performances from Deaf artists, live work with spoken text that is BSL interpreted, screened work with closed captioning and performance and installation work that is non-verbal.

Why are visually led performances so important for d/Deaf audiences?

  • Such performances play a pivotal role in creating an inclusive and immersive experience for d/Deaf audiences as they capitalize on the importance of visual communication and facial gestures. Indeed, traditional performances that rely on spoken language are very limiting for d/Deaf audiences who are unable to capture the emotions of dialogue.
  • Performances that integrate sign language offer a show where vocabulary is expressed through handshapes and facial gestures.
  • Manipulate Festival enables performances to be enjoyed by all, d/Deaf and hearing. The festival fosters inclusivity through a range of diverse communication methods and experiences. The performances allow for a multisensory journey that goes beyond the auditory realm.

Manipulate Arts Artistic Director and CEO Dawn Taylor said:

“The magical thing about the artforms at the heart of Manipulate Festival is their endless potential for innovation, and audiences can expect some exciting new approaches to puppetry and visual theatre this year unlike anything they’ve seen before. Our animation programme is the biggest it has ever been, creating a real moment of celebration for animation in Scotland. The range and calibre of presented artists, alongside the contributions of our artist associate programmers, have really worked to elevate this year’s programme.

Artists and creative organisations are struggling more than ever in this financial climate – but as ever our community of artists has responded to these challenges with ingenuity and creativity, making for a dynamic programme in the 40th anniversary year for Manipulate Arts”.


Theatre Officer at Creative Scotland, Jaine Lumsden stated:

 “Manipulate Festival is the home of animation, puppetry, and visual theatre in Scotland, showcasing the wide varieties and possibilities of such dynamic storytelling mediums.  Audiences and artists will be able to enjoy work of the highest quality and innovation from Scottish-based and international artists, discovering unique perspectives and initiatives. With a packed programme spread across the festival city of Edinburgh, it will be the perfect celebration of Manipulate Arts’ 40th anniversary year.”

Here is a list of just some of the many visual performances at Manipulate Festival 2024:

  1. The House from Denmark’s Sofie Krog Theatre is a European puppetry classic, having racked up hundreds of performances over the last decade across the continent. A darkly hilarious piece of puppetry, this Scottish Premiere performance is set in the Warehouse Family Funeral Home after the death of their undertaker and features a revolving set with intricate lighting and sound, intrigue, mystery, and murder.
  1. Death’s impact can also be seen in Last Rites  by Ad Infinitum co-created with Manipulate Festival veteran Ramesh Meyyappan and directed by George Mann. This non-verbal performance – accessible to d/Deaf and hearing audiences – explores funeral rites in an intimate, final ceremony which unearths a rich tapestry of shared memories and a complex relationship between father and son.
  1. Plinth is led by celebrated Scottish theatre-maker and festival returner Al Seed, produced in partnership with Vanishing Point. Abstract and unearthly, Plinth is the wordless journey of a statue, shocked into life, descending into a warzone. Seed draws on the myth of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur as he explores the concept of the ‘hero’ versus ‘other’.
  1. Scottish artists and Manipulate Festival favourites Tortoise in a Nutshell present the much-awaited Ragnarok, originally programmed for Manipulate Festival 2020, and arriving now off the back of TIAN’s acclaimed run of Concerned Others at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2023. Questioning what happens at the end of an age, Ragnarok uses hand-crafted clay figures, an immersive soundtrack and performers to conjure up a multisensory world.
  1. Further exploring conflict and its lasting effects, Compagnie à explore the legacy of colonisation in today’s world in the UK Premiere of The Conquest (La Conquête). Using the body as a stage, this piece of object theatre explores the ideas of dual identities and universal history, with artists Dorothée Saysonbat and Sika Gblondoume using the body, mini figures, and a large sandbox.
  1. Multi-award-winning contemporary circus company Ockham’s Razor presents the Scottish Premiere of Tess – a bold new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. One actor joins six circus performers to blend the physical language of circus with the original text, creating a powerful retelling of the classic novel through a feminist lens to question privilege, class, consent, agency, and female desire.
  1. Play and fun continues to be a huge part of Manipulate Arts’ remit and is all the more important alongside exploring our fears. Ruxy Cantir’s critically acclaimed Pickled Republic & Pickle Party sees Ruxy welcome audiences into the pickle jar for an existential lament and chaotic search for meaning in a surreal cabaret with puppetry, mask, and pickled vegetables.
  1. France’s Compagnie Bakélite will present two Scottish Premieres. Love of Risk (L’Amour du Risqué) welcomes in Saturday 3 February – a hilarious farce involving a surreal ballet of increasingly disordered robot vacuum cleaners as they attempt to serve a man dinner by candle light. On Sunday 4 February, Invaders (Envahisseurs) finds a lurking threat of strange, gelatinous beings at the edge of the universe moving towards the earth in a piece of tabletop object manipulation.


Performances with BSL interpretation:



  • Opening Party will have BSL interpretation for speeches and performances (1st February at 6pm)
  • Deaf Film Club – We are planning a deaf film club in partnership with Deaf Action following our non-verbal shorts screenings on Saturday 10thof February. This will be a BSL interpreter supported event, offering a chance to meet and talk about film in Summerhall.

Subtitled Film:

Non-verbal performances at the festival:

  • Ruins– this performance also has woojer belts available which convert sound to vibrations.
  • L’Amour du Risque(Love of Risk- 3rd February at 3pm & 5pm)
  • Envahisseurs(Invaders- 4th February at 2pm & 5pm)
  • Plinth– (2nd February at 8pm and 3rd February at 8pm)

General information about Manipulate Festival:

  • Manipulate Festival presents the very best of Scottish and international animated film, puppetry, and visual theatre to audiences in Edinburgh and beyond. The festival aims to engage and challenge our audiences with high-quality visually led work which pushes boundaries, plays with form, and challenges perceptions.
  • By bringing together the very best puppetry, visual theatre, and animated film across the globe with work which has been developed in Scotland, Manipulate Festival aims to spark opportunities for artistic exchange and to offer their audience a diverse pallete of rich visually led work.
  • Since 2008, leading and award-winning companies, artist and film-makers from more than 35 countries across 5 continents have provided the vibrant, dynamic core of a festival that entertains, intrigues and inspires.

More information about Manipulate Arts:

  • The mission of Manipulate Arts is to champion, develop and present brilliant, animated film, puppetry and visual theatre in Scotland and internationally.
  • Founded in 1984, and formerly known as Puppet Animation Scotland, all of our work is focused around artforms which breathe life into the inanimate or tell stories using primarily images rather than text. Play and manipulation are at the heart of all the work that we champion and support – whether of puppets, objects, digital imagery, or of the human body. We believe that the common thread between these artforms lies in the opportunities they create to discover the latent magic in the everyday, to find common visual languages beyond the reach of words, and to enable play at all stages of our lives.
  • We promote and celebrate these art forms as valued art forms integral to Scotland’s rich and diverse cultural life. Since 2000 Scottish puppetry companies have presented their work to over 1,850,000 people throughout the UK.

More about Creative Scotland:

  • Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery.

You don’t want to miss out on what we know will be an amazing set of performances! Be sure to get your tickets soon.

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