Eight models of orange squid legs, supported by puppeteers, in front of a crowd and a building.

Citizen Squid

A participatory big puppet spectacle about compassion, displacement and transition

Meet: Citizen Squid

A giant squid has been abandoned on the high street – but how did it get there – and what will we do with it?

A project about compassion towards others and ourselves – when we fear the barbarians at the gate, do we focus too much energy on finding someone to blame and risk missing the bigger picture?

Drifting boats and roaming tentacles trying to find their heart and a way home.

Learning and Engagement

Citizen Squid received funding from Wandsworth Grant Fund and Arts Council England – Grants for the Arts to conduct a community engagement project in Wandsworth and a second stage development and national tour.

As part of this show, we offered optional workshops and an in-depth community engagement programme where participants investigated displacement, transition and compassion through creative practice. Participants became citizens of the project and we facilitated a complete re-imagining of the work, including designing and building bespoke puppets and learning high-quality performance skills and techniques.

Past Performances

Citizen Squid has toured extensively, appearing at Lyric Hammersmith, Watford Palace, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival, Birmingham Hippodrome, Streets of Battle, Hull Fair, Ramsgate Festival and Pumphouse Gallery.

What’s Next for Citizen Squid?

Squid has disappeared back into the ocean…

  • “Mesmerising performance.”
  • “Enjoyed the surreal nature of Citizen Squid.”
  • “Fascinating, enjoyable, good to participate in, children enjoyed them. Also, adults enjoyed the performances.”
  • “This one was fun, creative, imaginative and engrossing.”
  • “Good to see a piece of street theatre where the passers-by were stopped in their tracks, and young spectators from 5 to 50 years old were totally engaged.”

Cast and Creatives

Artistic Director: Ivan Thorley
Designer, Lead Puppet Maker, Devisor: Caroline Bowman
Co-Devisors and Performers: Priya Mistry, Iskandar Sharazuddin, Ivan Thorley, Laura Cubitt, Sam Clark, Tom Wilton, Abigail Matthews, Jeremy Hancock, Roman Stefanski, Andrew London, Jamie Ducan, Peyvand Sadeghian, Rebecca O’Brien, Ben Thompson, Mikey Brett.
Puppet Makers: Christopher Kelly, Ruth Herbert, Jen Cardno, Alison Alexander, Miriam Hammond, Katie from Warhorse, Charlotte Quartermaine, Roman Stefanski, Ivan Thorley.
Puppet Maker Interns: Rosa Douglas, Eddie Bayemi, Jessie McGuire, Lucy Paskell, George Chaffey, Pip Herbst, Elaine Morris.
Sound and Music: Daniel Kempson, Rae Howell, Klaus Bru, Seb Silas.
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre Producer: Peter Holland
Consultant Producers: Stephanie Hay and Kate Anderson
Video Documentation: Zia Trench

Find out more about Our People

Commissioned by the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre and Watford Palace Theatre. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Further developed with support from Wandsworth Grants Fund and ENABLE Leisure and Culture.

Special thanks to Greenwich and Docklands International Festival, Latitude Festival, Blind Summit Theatre, Stephanie Hay, Artem, Significant Object, Kate Anderson, Nick Barnes, Cornish Tiger, November Films, RCSSD, Byrony Kimmings, Nathan Curry, NT Warhorse, Hornsey Town Hall (HTH) and Southlands Arts Centre.

Puppets with Guts has been funded by Wandsworth Council’s Grant Fund to deliver a new physical theatre and puppet engagement programme called Kids Create. Through working with Enable Leisure and Culture’s Arts Team, The Pump House Gallery, The Rose Community Centre, The Yvonne Carr Children’s Centre, Carey Gardens, Patmore Estate, St George Primary, Griffin Primary and Heathbrook Primary all in Wandsworth, we have had a fantastic response. Puppets with GUTS is part of Wandsworth Fringe Festival which is funded by Wandsworth Council and delivered by Enable Leisure and Culture on behalf of Wandsworth Council.