Puppet designer Jonny Dixon talks Arabian Nights

Our puppet designer Jonny Dixon is no stranger to Iris, having worked alongside Arabian Nights set designer Amber Scarlett last year on the Offie-nominated Hansel & Gretel and the Witch Baba Yaga. But now as he prepares to bring Sharazad’s stories to life in puppet form at Hoxton Hall, he sets out his vision for them here…

I was really excited to be asked to make the masks and puppets for Iris’s Arabian Nights. I love stories…the more weird and wonderful the better!

For the past 25 years I’ve been working as a theatre performer, mask & puppet maker and Illustrator and storytelling is the thread that runs through all of these. I was a hugely inspired by the wonderful Henson-made Storyteller TV series from the 80s (featuring the late and brilliant John Hurt) and aim to bring a similarly playful, quirky, magical and wondrous mix to the Arabian Nights tales.

It’s brilliant material to work with. I’m aiming to generate a rich visual language by giving each tale I’m working on a different visual storytelling style…different sizes and styles of puppetry, half masks, full masks, shadow work, even the palace itself will have it’s own ‘character’ and energy.

The ensemble should have lots of really cool stuff to play with and to bring to life! I’m in the process of building a 100ft houseboat from scratch and this will be my studio for the Arabian Nights making… it’s a great and quirky place to work and living on water does something brilliant to the creative mind! With over 50 different characters to create I better get a move on!

Keep an eye on our blog for more from Jonny and the rest of the Arabian Nights team. And join them at Hoxton Hall this September to see what they create! Get your tickets from Hoxton’s website now.