Thursday, 21 December 2017

Christmas lunch paid for by the Life Outside the Box puppets

With funds raised from the sales of puppet project books and puppet notebooks, the puppets brought some of the people involved in the project out for lunch. Unfortunately, not all members could make it.

Thank you all those who have funded our work through buying our books/notebook. They are still available! (click on the links above)

Puppet project members:
(from left clockwise) Corina, Ann, Margaret Ann, ... John,
...,  Paul, ..., Pat
(... are IWA staff )

We had a great time at Crew's Restaurant in Dungarvan, and were very well looked after.

I had not seem some of the members for a while, so it was lovely to catch up with them about their lives and hear the continued enthusiasm for the puppet project.

Ideas which came from the members for further use of the puppets.

  • Talks at schools?
  • Make more puppets?
  • Longer film?
  • Use of puppets in advertising?


I updated the members/makers where their film has been shown since we last met, and where the puppets have brought me personally. 
That the film has captured the imagination of researchers in the field of puppetry and disability worldwide, and from the public in general.

I also shared the new puppet design I am working on, which will make it easier to manipulate a puppet while seated in a wheelchair, and for those who have limited strength in their hands.

Proud, so proud of all who were part of this project. And hopeful their story is far from being finished!

From all of us at 'Life Outside the Box' we would like to wish you a wonderful year ahead, and thank you for your company along this amazing puppet adventure! X

desert was 'plate-licking'good!
and there is always a way to indulge in the

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Screening of 'Life Outside the Box' at Together! 2017 Disability Film Festival

Our film "Life Outside the Box" will be shown during the 

Screening will be during 

the Animate! programme, 

which runs from 2.45pm-3.15pm on Saturday 9 December 2017 

at the Old Town Hall, Stratford E15 4BQ, London, UK.

As part of the Together! 2017 Disability Film Festival. 
The UK’s only film festival bringing together films by and about disabled people from across impairment groups.
The majority of films will be London, UK or World Premieres.. 

The sixth annual Together! Disability History Month Festival, runs from the 17th November till 15th December. Showcasing the work of Disabled artists from East London, the UK and across the world. Unless specified all events are FREE, are open to everyone and are not ticketed: just turn up.
All festival details are on this website.

Note from organisers:  During the festival there will be links to the online versions, trailers or DVD sales site as applicable. This extends the Festival audience beyond the real-time audience. We then keep the programmes online so that programmers, curators, scholars and film fans are able to use our website as a portal to discover Disability Film in the Future. 

PS. The next TV appearance during the People's Angelus is on Friday 1st December at 6pm.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

'Life Outside the Box' in Puppet Place newsletter.

Puppet Place in Bristol recently did an interview with Corina Duyn, facilitator of the project. 

It looks at her creative background, life with illness/disability and how all this lead to the

Life Outside the Box project and furhter puppet making adventures.

Abstract from the article related to Life Outside the Box
"You have been very prolific as an artist in many mediums, painting & drawing, sculpture, writing and poetry, doll making and even weaving. How important are puppets to your work at the moment?
Very much so. Following on from the 6 months of work I did on the ‘Life Outside The Box’ project with the Irish Wheelchair Association, I was invited to speak at the ‘Broken Puppet’ Symposium on Puppets, Disability and Health at UCC in Cork. Our video has now been shown on Irish national TV and at the Disability Film Festival ‘Picture This’ in Canada.   Attending the symposium was like stepping into a completely new world and yet when I entered it, and moved about with open eyes and ears, I realised I had been part of this amazing, creative, fun, healing, and astonishing place for pretty much all my life.
The engagement of people with disabilities with puppets, not only as a form of therapy, but as creators and artists in their own right is something that can be transformative. Listening to the stories and speakers at the event has only served to reinforce to me what a powerful, evocative and meaningful role puppets have played in peoples lives throughout the years and will continue to do so long into the future.
I have now returned to teaching puppet making, in small groups and by social media/email. Only for one and a half hours a week at the moment but what great fun it is. I am improving my ability to set my own limits to what I can do and enjoying finding ways to enable my students to work on their own puppets in my studio, or in their own homes. The healing effect of teaching puppet making is not something that might bring about a miraculous recovery from my illness, although one would be very welcome however it came about, but it is bringing a new energy into my life and who can say where that will lead.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Corina. Is it puppets, puppets, puppets all the way now?
Absolutely. My return to teaching puppet making and the experience of the symposium and discussions around disability and health has created an energy and enthusiasm that will take me onto the next stage of my journey."
two puppets facing each other. Reflection puppets by Corina Duyn
"Reflections" Puppets- project in progress.

Further reading about Corina Duyn's current "Reflections" puppet project:

Thank you for visiting, and please do let us know what your thoughts, and any questions.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Puppets are getting around the globe

Some exciting 'Life Outside the Box' puppet news.

After the presentation at the "Broken Puppet: A symposium on Puppetry Disability and Health in early August, Corina was contacted by several of the other speakers and others involved in puppetry.

  • From Chile "... It was wonderful to be at the symposium and get to know your work. I'll show the film and the book in my Puppets and Therapy diploma course." Andrea Markovits Diplomado Muñeco y Terapia 2017 at Muñecoterapia Chile 
  • From Germany:  " I think your booklet Life outside the box will find interest from my colleagues. Antje WegenerTherapeutische Figurenspielerin, DGTP e.V. And organiser of the Symposium of therapeutic puppetry in Germany 2018
  • Australia: Puppetry News shared the story about the Symposium and the Project on Facebook and on other social media pages too... like Persphone Sextou's Twitter page, and on the UNIMA (Official worldwide puppetry organisation) pages.
  • UK: The Festival of Puppetry in Bristol, running from 1-10th of September, has offered to highlight the project on social media during the festival. It was too late to have our film added to their schedule
Photo by Aisling Doyle of Life Outside the Box on Irish TV

  • And the specially edited version of the film was shown on Irish TV again on the People's Angelus and shared with people from all over the world. See youtube , or footage below. (sorry for slightly shaky film. I am not that steady on my legs, or holding my phone up)

Goodness knows where they'll turn up next!
Will keep you posted, a
nd Thank You so much for stopping by

PS: The Full film ( 4 minutes) can be viewed HERE

Friday, 18 August 2017

Puppets in the life of arts facilitator Corina Duyn

This post was first published on Corina Duyn's Blog, on the 13th August 2017, and shares the personal story of puppets in the life of the 'Life Outside the Box' facilitator Corina Duyn.


Attending the Puppet Symposium  last week was like stepping into a completely new world. And yet when I entered it, and moved about with open eyes and ears, I realised I had been part of this amazing, creative, fun, healing, and astonishing place for pretty much all my life. 

I just did not know it...

photo of Persephone Sextou and puppet Johnny Dwyer having a private moment.  Corina Duyn is holding the puppet
Persephone Sextou and puppet Johnny Dwyer having a private moment.
 (I am allowed to witness this...)

Johnny's Ancestors

While writing my paper/ my presentation for the Symposium, I looked back at the dolls and puppets I created in my life. I made dolls clothes on an Singer hand sewing machine around the ages of 7, or 8. Made my first doll at the age of ten. Borrowed doll making books throughout my teens from the library, and bought my first book at the age of 16. My first ever puppet, a clown, was created from this book. I still use the puppet body design in today's classes! Nearly 40 years on...

Fantasy Folk

Moving to Ireland saw the start of my Fantasy Folk Artist Dolls and Puppets. I had my work in shops, and has solo exhibitions. I work on Private and corporate commissions. Including the Waterford Crystal one, I wrote about a while back. A puppet/animated related work was that of Ballycardool  by Jimmy Marukami. I also taught puppet making with two young art students from Finland, and in a group home, in the months before illness changed my life in 1998.

Puppet Power

During this work at the group home with teenagers, I realised the Power of Puppets. I think there were about 6 youngsters in the group. All Very Eager to work with me. We had made the heads of the puppets and had started on the hands. One young lad of about 13 had made a clown's head. Gorgeous. Funny. Just like himself. But when he made the hands, they were closed fists.
Powerful stuff.

I still feel bad for leaving these youngsters without finishing their puppet. I was too ill to even sit up, not to mind teach. 19 years later I still want to work with them. They probably have kids of their own by now, but if they read this, please get in touch.

Moving on

Puppets made their return in a big way when I started to facilitate the Life Outside the Box Puppet project with fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) in 2015. This project catapulted me into the Puppet Power World, and into that of the Puppet Symposium. I just didn't see it coming! 

Yes, I know I was invited to talk about the project. And yes, I was a little scared to say my bit amongst researchers, and speakers from all over the world. People who are involved with puppetry for years, and know what they are talking about.
As it turned out, I also know what I am talking about. 
know the journey I made from childhood in dolls and puppets, from being an artist, witnessing the powerful ways puppets can explore challenges in our lives. I have seen it. I have lived it. 
I just didn't realize that what I have been doing in my work, especially working with others with disabilities, while living with disability myself, represents a unique experience. 

Puppetry and disability

One of the first speakers Moira Jenkins, a lawyer, puppeteer, and lecturer, talked about the UN Convention of the rights of a person with disabilities - Which by the way is still not ratified by the Irish government - to be involved in the arts. More than just participation. We have every right to be respected as the originator and creator of our own work. (Article 30(2)  Including puppetry. 
Arts as a practice, not therapy.

I was nodding like a lunatic at so much what Moira was saying. Especially when it came to those horrible terms like 'service user' which I was labeled when a member of the IWA... Also when it came to context providers not just content providers. I created the context with my project, and so did my fellow members! Proud of that.

Puppets as story tellers 

Over the two days I filled my head with images, and words, and stories, and opportunities. Some I listened to at the symposium, others via Skype while lying on my hotel bed. Thank you Emma for providing this option for me. 

I was in awe with the presentation by Andrea Markovits from Chile, who talked about the puppets and traumatic memory project. Exploring the  pain felt by the public of the past regime in Chile, the families of the disappeared, the tortured. Silent puppets. Beautiful puppets. Powerful stories.

There were speakers from Japan, UK, Brazil, Germany, Finland, Portugal, Ireland, and Costa Rica (I think).
Subjects were: Well being, Disability, Hospital and care settings, and mental health. But even within these there was such a variety of subjects.

The speakers were either researchers in the field of puppetry, for example Persephone Sextou's 'Theatre for one' with children in hospitals, to Caroline Astell-Burt who teaches at the London school of puppetry. Antje Wegener who uses puppets with kids dealing with trauma. Or puppeteers with their own story to tell. (See all names here).  I loved how Oscar Goldszmidt worked with youngster with cerebral palsy, and enabled them to manipulate puppets...

The talks that touched me most were the ones where puppets transformed the lives of their makers. Most of the time by surprise. Puppets made Emma Fisher come out as disabled. A bit like coming out as LGBT. It informed her thesis about puppets and disability, which was initially about others with disability. For some the puppets they created supported them during mental health challenges. For example Kate James-Moore, and Aaron Jean Crombe. I think it was Joni-Rae Carrack, who said 'Puppets can be both objects and subjects',  in her talk about anxiety. Kate said that 'puppetry saved her life'.

The whole experience left me filled with images, and thoughts, and questions of where to go from here? It feels like there is no going back now. No going back into my box!

black and white photo of corina duyn lifting her puppet out of the box at the Puppet symposium
To me this photo says it all:
Puppet Johnny Dwyer and myself 

stepping into life...

© Photo by Nik Palmer  of Noisy Oyster
More photos by Nik see HERE

What next?

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Marisa Latimer after the symposium. She told me about her travels with puppets. Through college, working with puppeteers, stories from Japan. Expanding on the world I kind of knew existed.
Listening to her, I remembered the exact location of a puppet theatre in the city of Haarlem, where I lived 8 years before moving to Ireland. I always wanted to go in. I never did. 
I also remembered a very vivid dream of a kind of underground puppet theatre/museum. I remembered that I had copied puppet making books from the library over 20 years ago. How I have one business card with a puppet sitting by a pile of books, for at least 19 years.
That I was part of the puppet festival during a doll making week in France the year I got ill. 

I had communications with Kate, Aaron, Emma and Perspehone. And a meeting with Moira. Which has led to the invitation to give guest lectures at CIT, and a collaboration about Disability Rights and Puppetry. And other future possibilities for my work...
It is all hugely exciting. 
I am aware my body might not (yet) be as excited as my head, but I am certainly going to take small steps into this world which has been presented to me. Loud and Clear.
I hear you!!

Puppets have been part of my life. A hidden part of my life. Deep in my psyche.
They, and me, are ready to come out and play!!

To finish this amazing week, I learned that The life outside the box project was also mentioned in a Journal..., see link below.
The puppet making classes are going well, and I have already four more students lined up.
And I am now a member of the Irish UNIMA (International Union of Puppets, a non-governmental organisation affiliated to UNESCO)


group photo of speakers and puppets at Puppet Symposium UCC, cork
Most of the speakers and visiting puppets at the symposium.
Mad bunch!

Further reading and links

Friday, 11 August 2017

Attending the Puppet Symposium - an account in images

A visual account of the Puppet Symposium at UCC, Cork, last week
Corina Duyn taking puppet Johnny Dwyer out of the box, photo by Nik Palmer
Johnny being taken out of his box
by Corina and Pascale
photo © Nik Palmer of "Noisy Oyster"
Persephone Sextouand Corina Duyn's puppet Johnny Dwyer
Persphone Sextou with Johnny Dwyer
Love at first sight

More photos by Nik Palmer see HERE

Other photos of the speakers at the symposium see UNIMA facebook page

Johnny, taking it all in

Corina Duyn, seated in wheelchair giving her presentation at the puppet symposium UCC
Corina Duyn giving her presentation at the Symposium
images from UNIMA research committee  Facebook page

Corina Duyn, seated in wheelchair giving her presentation at the puppet symposium UCC
Corina Duyn giving her presentation at the Symposium
images from UNIMA research committee  Facebook page
puppets attending the puppet symposium UCC
Puppet gathering at the Symposium.
images from UNIMA research committee  Facebook page

Group photos of speakers and their puppets at the puppet symposium UCC
Most of the speakers and puppets at the Puppet Symposium.
images from UNIMA research committee  Facebook page

Film screening at the puppet festival

Monday, 7 August 2017

Puppets created and performed by people with disabilities

The Life Outside the Box Puppet Project was mentioned in the
'Puppetry as reinforcement or rupture of cultural perceptions of the disabled body.' 
A paper written by Laura Purcell-Gates & Emma Fisher. 
Published in 
Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance. 
Published online: 26 Jun 2017.

To link to this article: 

This article proposes puppetry as a practice uniquely situated to intervene in ideological constructions of the disabled body both onstage and off. Examining our current and recent practice-based research that uses puppetry to intervene in cultural perceptions of disability, we put forth a provocation, asking readers to consider the ways in which puppetry practices can be deployed to enable performances by disabled puppeteers as well as in ways that engage with cultural constructions of disability. We suggest that puppets, as bodies that are materially constructed, can both reinforce and rupture such constructions. 

page 364 (2nd page - 2nd paragraph in the online document):

... Disability arts practices in Ireland that engage with puppetry include both theatrical and therapeutic practices. Theatrical engagements include explorations of how disability might be differently enacted in society, such as artist and writer Corina Duyns collaboration with fellow members of the Irish Wheelchair Association to create a puppetry community arts piece titled Life Outside the Box which premiered in 2016, with puppets created and performed by people with disabilities to explore the idea that people with disabilities can gain freedom by stepping outside of societys disability box.1  Therapeutic practices include the development of artistic skills in people with disabilities, such as the Arts in Dis- ability workshops of Dublin-based Artastic, a street spectacle, entertainment and arts education organisation, in which adults and children with disabilities construct and puppeteer direct-manipulation puppets.2 Countering the isolation of children in hospitals, including children with disabilities, and enabling creative conversations that connect them to the wider community was the core aim of Helium ArtsPuppet Portal Project in 20092010.3 

  1. Life Outside the Box website with link to book and DVD:
  2. Website with images from Artastic arts in disability workshops:
  3. Helium ArtsPuppet Portal Project website: 

    Link to this article: 

    Laura Purcell-Gates & Emma Fisher (2017) Puppetry as reinforcement or rupture of cultural perceptions of the disabled body, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22:3, 363-372, DOI: 10.1080/13569783.2017.1329652

    RiDE: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance is a refereed journal aimed at those who are interested in applying performance practices to cultural engagement, educational innovation and social change. It provides an international forum for research into drama and theatre conducted in community, educational, developmental and therapeutic contexts. ... read more 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The Broken Puppet: A Symposium on Puppetry, Disability, and Health

Corina Duyn, facilitator of the Life Outside the Box Puppetry project 
has been invited to give a talk about her experience of making puppets 
throughout her life and during illness, 
as well as sharing the empowering aspects she encountered 
during the creation of puppets with her fellow members of the 
Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA),
 at the upcoming international symposium 

The Broken Puppet: A Symposium on Puppetry, 

Disability, and Health

1st and 2nd of August 

at UCC, Cork, Ireland 

Connolly Complex (adjacent to the Granary Theatre) on Western Road, 
directly across from the River Lee Hotel. 
Rooms ConnA and ConnS4 will be signposted on either side of the building. 

Click HERE to register/book tickets

The Life Outside the Box film will be screened 
on 1st August during the Puppet festival in Cork
on the ground floor of the Village Hall.

Johnny Dwyer is ready to travel to Cork!!

Details from eventbrite
"The UNIMA Research Commission in collaboration with Cork Puppetry Festival, University College Cork, and Mary Immaculate College, is delighted to announce a two-day symposium exploring the ways puppetry intersects with disability and health. Academics and practice-based researchers will present papers, provocations, and presentations of practice-based research.
The emergence of a disability culture is difficult but tremendously liberating. Such a culture enables us to recognize the pressure to pretend to be normal for the oppressive and impossible- to -achieve hurdle which it is. Most importantly, this culture challenges our own prejudices about ourselves, as well as those of the non-disabled culture.”- Jenny Morris

The object offers itself to the individual as an extension of his being in the surrounding universe, and augmented affirmation of his total existence.” - Roger Daniel Bensky"

image: Research practice based on "Pupa" by Emma Fisher.
Ceramic puppet made in collaboration with Sheila Stone. Photo Emma Mac.
Registration for the event, held on the 1st and 2nd of August at UCC, Cork, can be done HERE

Schedule of speakers rom the UNIMA website:

Tuesday August 1st 2017
  • 12.30 Registration
  • 1.15 Welcome and introduction (Cariad Astles)
  • 1.35 Keynote: Dr Melissa Trimingham: Puppetry and autism
  • 2.25 Moira Jenkins: Puppetry as a human right: relational citizenship
  • 2.50 Andrea Markovits: Puppet therapy and traumatic memory in Chile post-dictatorship
  • 3.10 coffee
  • 3.30 Yasuko Senda: Heart-warming Smile Puppet Association
  • 3.55 Oscar Goldszmidt: Social inclusion through puppetry: a case study with cerebral palsy
  • 4.20 Caroline Astell-Burt: Closeness, touching and kinaesthesia
  • 4.45 Antje Wegener: Therapeutic puppetry in Germany
  • 5.05 Questions and discussion
Wednesday August 2nd
  • 9.00 Registration
  • 9.30 Keynote: Dr Persephone Sextou: Puppetry in hospitals, clinics and healthcare settings
Disability panel
  • 10.35 Emma Fisher: The Broken Puppet: puppetry and disability
  • 11.00 Corina Duyn: Life outside the box: puppetry, ME and disability
  • 11.25 Roberto Ferreira De Silva: puppetry with disabled participants
  • 11.45 Questions and discussion
Hospitals and care settings panel
  • 1.10 Riku Laakkonen: Performing objects in palliative care
  • 1.35 Matt Jennings: Acts of caring: puppetry in person-centred nursing
  • 2 Gibdel Wilson: Puppets talk, communities listen
  • 2.25 Poupak Azimpour: Listener dolls: a case study of women recovering from cancer
  • 2.45 Questions and discussion
  • 3.05 coffee
Mental health panel
  • 3.25 Marisa Latimer: Shadow puppetry and dramatherapy
  • 3.50 Kate James-Moore: Puppetry as a creative tool: struggle, control, power
  • 4.15 Joni-Rae Carrack: Objective and Subjective: puppetry and mental health
  • 4.40 Aaron Jean Crombé: Self-acceptance and puppetry
  • 5.05 Lesley Burton: final reflections
  • 5.30 Questions and discussion

Update 18th August:

Sunday, 11 June 2017

IWA puppets and their makers on RTE television

The puppets and their makers made it onto TV.

See the one minute video HERE 

The next screening is on 1st Spetember, 
and every 12 weeks after that.

Article in Dungarvan Observer
2nd June 2017
To read the article, please see Page 17 in
the online version of the Dungarvan Observer 

Few Notes:
  • Copy of article  by Margaret Ann Foley, who suggested we contact RTE about our project.
  • As not all the participants could be mentioned in the film, RTE named project facilitator Corina Duyn, and film maker Alan O'Callaghan, and the Irish Wheelchair Association.
  • The Bells were added by RTE as this is standard for inclusion in the People's Angelus.
  • The music is different from the music in the original film which can be viewed HERE  for RTE copyright reasons.
  • Thank you Roger Childs for including our project.
  • The film will be screened again, as it will be included in a rota.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

The People's Angelus

A few months ago, before the screening of the Life Outside the Box Puppetry Film in Canada and Dungarvan Cinema our IWA group was reflecting on where to show the short film next.
One of the suggestions from Margaret Ann Foley was to ask RTE (our national broadcaster) if they would like to show it on the People's Angelus ...

The one minute daily reflective Angelus broadcast on RTÉ One is one of Ireland's longest-running programmes, having been aired daily at 6.00pm since the inception of RTÉ television in 1962.
Ireland has changed enormously over that time and the nature of the broadcasts has changed with it. They are now changing again. Since October 2015 New commissioned films create a reflective space for all in the peak-time schedule… In addition to these commissioned professional films, RTÉ One has designated one slot per week, on Fridays at 6pm, as The People’s Angelus slot
More about the People's Angelus

And you know what.
I contacted RTE's Roger Childs, Senior Production Executive & Genre Head of Religious Programmes RTE. I emailed a little bit of information, and the film. I received a Very Enthusiastic response that same day.

A few months have passed, with several edits made and contracts and permission signed. And now...

one minute version 

So please tune in.

It will be included in a regular rota of People's Angelus submissions
every Friday, over the coming months. 
From this early start of the puppet project... dancing outside the Disability Box! and onto national television

Thank you all who were involved in this project.
Members and Staff at the IWA.
Alan O'Callaghan of The Bootleg studios.
Roger Childs at RTE.
And all who supported us along the way.

* I have also been asked to talk about the project at the upcoming The Broken Puppet:  A Symposium on Puppetry, Disability, and Health. At UCC in August

What a journey!