a new play by Louisa Ashton


Wed 5 - Mon 31 August, 3.20pm

(no show Tue 18)

Pleasance Courtyard, 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ

(Pleasance Above)

Tickets: £6 - £11

Box office: pleasance.co.uk / 0131 556 6550


PREVIEWS: London (11 & 12 July) & Buxton (23 - 25 July) - see below.

Press enquiries: Joanna Hawkins, joannamhawkins@gmail.com / 07910 920 207


A visually stunning exploration of loss and a teenager’s imagination, using large-scale puppetry, UV lighting design, and a live electronic soundscape.


Following the national acclaimed successes Killing Roger and The Girl With No Heart, Sparkle and Dark return with their new play I AM BEAST - a visual extravaganza exploring of the power of grief and childish imagination. What happens when the wildest parts of our imagination take control? Yearning for escape, teenager Ellie journeys through a flickering world of bewitching strangers and comic book superheroes. But as the walls of her new world begin to crumble, she must finally face the truth behind her fantasies.


Sparkle and Dark use innovative Bunraku puppetry and UV lighting to create an immersive world on stage. They continue to push boundaries of puppetry, developing a large scale, mechanised puppet cast in fibreglass that gives striking dynamism to the piece. The wonderful imagination of youth is captured through a stage that shifts between the real-life bedroom of a young girl, to a fantastical comic book world, making use of UV effects to transform the set in an instant. An original electronic soundscape is performed live on stage with a drum machine, synth and a bass guitar.


www.sparkleanddark.com / @SparkleandDark / facebook.com/SparkleandDark



With I AM BEAST, Sparkle and Dark continue their partnership with the Wellcome Trust, touching on themes of grief and adolescent mental health through innovative theatrical stylings. It is rare for teenagers to be diagnosed with mental health conditions, as the mind of a child is in such constant flux. Working with neuroscientist Jasmin Kroll, the company have explored how the edges of clinical diagnoses can blur with the idea of an active, childhood imagination where alternative worlds are often created as coping mechanisms. As Dr Kroll states: “Labels are made not for those who are sick, but for those who are ‘well’ so that they know they’re not sick”. Questions arise, then, of how we can talk about children’s mental health, without fear of stigma or ‘othering’ a teenager at a crucial stage of their development.


Founded in 2009, Sparkle and Dark’s mission is to make heart-crunching, nail-biting, pant-wetting theatre made from stories that connect to the deeper and darker parts of the soul. Specialising in beautifully crafted puppetry, many of Sparkle and Dark’s characters have started their lives as blocks of wood or lumps of plasticine. Stories are the business, telling them the craft. The blood, the sweat, the tears, the amazing highs when something magic happens on stage. This is what we live for, for without stories then what are we? This will be Sparkle and Dark’s fourth production, and third year at Edinburgh Festival Fringe following the successes of Killing Roger (Underbelly 2013) and The Girl with No Heart (Bedlam 2012).



Louisa Ashton is Co-Artistic Director and founding member of Sparkle and Dark. Her previous scripts include the award-winning The Clock Master and 5 star epic hit The Girl With No Heart, both of which have toured the UK. Louisa has puppeteered in all of Sparkle and Dark's work, and is also an associate artist of Flabbergast Theatre.  Credits include We're Going on a Bear Hunt (Little Angel Theatre), Boris & Sergey (Flabbergast Theatre), The Magician's Daughter (Little Angel Theatre) and The Mintzers online series filmed at Ealing Studios.



Shelley Knowles-Dixon is Co-Artistic Director and founding member of Sparkle and Dark. She has directed the acclaimed productions The Girl With No Heart, Killing Roger and I AM BEAST for the company. Shelley is also a puppet maker and designer and has designed and built all of Sparkle and Dark's puppets. She uses sculpting and casting techniques to form the expressive faces that her puppets are best known for.



Lawrence Illsley is the Musical Director of Sparkle and Dark. Lawrence is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, he has written and performed the score for the acclaimed productions of The Clockmaster, The Girl With No Heart and Killing Roger, all of which toured nationally. He began his career as a songwriter and is also a prize winning poet and writer. He wrote the short story that became Killing Roger and he has published two books, the epic poem Astra and Sebastian and a history the ceramicists Troika, Troika 63-83.


PREVIEWS         LONDON (Preview): Pleasance Islington Main House

  July 11/12, 730pm, Running time 60 mins

  Tickets: £5

  Address: Carpenters Mews, North Road, London, N7 9EF

  Box office: pleasance.co.uk / 020 7609 1800


  BUXTON (Preview): Pavilion Arts Centre

  July 23/24/25, 9pm, Running time 60 mins

  Tickets: £8 - £9

  Address: St John's Road, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6BE

  Box office: undergroundvenues.co.uk / 02081 440 070

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