Finger and Thumb Theatre Founded by Drew Colby


By merging traditional hand shadow techniques with modern technology, the Finger and Thumb Theatre created a visually engaging mode of storytelling. Founded by Drew Colby, a brilliant hand puppeteer, he created fourteen different shows that toured extensively across the UK as well as internationally. For several years this was the official site for the Finger and Thumb Theatre.
Content is from the site's 2013-2016 archived pages as well as other sources.

Drew Colby is an extraordinary hand shadowgrapher. To learn more about this talented artist, as well as upcoming performances, go to his current website at http://www.shadowgraphy.co.uk/.

Finger and Thumb Theatre
23a Pathfield Road
London, SW16 5NZ

 

...theatre at your fingertips

Welcome to Finger and Thumb Theatre! We are a puppet theatre company specialising in the use of hand shadow puppets to create beautiful visual theatre for all ages. We perform at parties, in schools, and in theatres - as long as the space is reasonably dark! In addition to small and large scale productions we provide workshops around the skills of hand shadow puppetry.

"I just wanted to thank you for your excellent performance.
I heard many parents and teachers comment on the
spellbinding quality. You really have a unique talent!”

– Kevin Ross, Teacher, Selwood Middle School, Frome

 "Next up was Finger and Thumb Theatre. Bringing us back to the good old days, this was shadow puppetry at its best. Using only one pair of hands, the performers created birds, wolves, rabbits, turtles, a camel, a very spry crab, and even a pair of talking heads - much to the delighted amazement of the crowd. Regressing to your six year-old self was mandatory, and the audience couldn’t help but clap their hands with delight after each animal left the scene." - Chelsey Stuyt, Bristol Theatre Review

 



Drew Colby Hand Shadowgrapher
Short clips of some of Drew's routines accompanied by the laughter of the audience at Dulwich Picture Gallery in June 2014.

 

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...theatre at your fingertips

Finger and Thumb Theatre began life in 2002 as Objects Dart, a puppet company founded by Drew Colby to explore the use of object theatre in conjunction with traditional puppet forms. From 2002 Drew created fourteen different shows, evolving a style of object puppetry that was described by audience members as “instant puppetry”. Drew performed extensively across the UK and internationally in Turkey, Kenya, Uganda, Canada and South Africa. In 2010 Drew began to focus on hand shadow puppetry – and it was time for a new name for the company that best captured the special magic of Drew's theatre of fingers and thumbs – enter Finger and Thumb Theatre!

Finger and Thumb Theatre create visual shows for family and adult audiences using different combinations of hand shadows, video technology, live and recorded music, storytelling and songs.

Finger and Thumb Theatre has exciting plans for the second year of its commission with Junction in Goole, Yorkshire - "The Carnival of the Animals"! The aim of the commission is to develop a new family theatre piece to receive its world premier at Junction in September 2016. The project will involve a number of new animals, animations and some specially composed music to be played alongside the well known classical score.

 

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Finger and Thumb Theatre have six productions suited to different performance environments :-

"Small Fables" is suitable for school and venue performances;

"Shadow Tails" is a performance for schools and parties - a flexible format to suit different spaces, themes and timings;

"Circus Bear" - funded by the Arts Council, this production is suitable for venues and large school performances;

"Cabaret" - a 12 - 30 minute long cabaret piece for adult audiences;

"The Highwayman" - a 12 minute performance based on the poem by Alfred Noyes;

"The Ugly Duckling" - a 50 minute performance based on the well-loved tale by Hans Christian Andersen.

and -

"The Carnival of the Animals" - the new commission for 2016. Full details to be revealed shortly...

“Thank you for coming in to our school last week! We really really really absolutely loved your performance. I personally really enjoyed the way you used your hands as puppets.” – Charlie

 



Drew Colby My Shadow
A gentle journey through fabulous shadow lands with two amazing shadow hands. Specially commissioned by Junction, Goole.
Join Drew Colby - a man who can create almost anything with his hand shadows – for a journey through exotic shadow lands with two amazing shadow hands. With shadow crabs that creep from the sea, a hula-hooping shadow monkey and a shadow man riding across the desert on a troublesome camel, you’ll be amazed by these enchanting shadow creations.

 

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FINGER AND THUMB THEATRE –THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM

Our shows and workshops are designed to support teachers and educators in their teaching of the national curriculum –and offer opportunities to link to elements of various modules in a creative way. 
We've worked in schools and nurseries for over 10 years, and both of our performers/ practitioners have significant experience of working with children, including children with special needs.
Below is a list of just some of the elements of the national curriculum that teachers have linked to performances and workshops.  The list is not exhaustive –in discussion with teachers and educators we can plan workshops that support your school's teaching in other areas as well.
 
KEY STAGE 1 AND KEY STAGE 2 SCIENCE

Our shows and workshops offer many opportunities to link with all 4 units of this subject.  Seeing how we make our shadows and designing their own puppets, children are supported to ask “what will happen if” or “why does this happen” -and to try out techniques themselves to explore the results. 
We demonstrate how our shadows are made, the materials we use, and the different effecteach material produces. Our workprovides an excellent link to “Light and Sound” in unit SC4. 

KEY STAGE 1 AND KEY STAGE 2 DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY

Our workshops offer many opportunities for lessons and links to all elements of the design and
technology curriculum.   We support pupils to design and perform with simple puppets.  Through the design process, they explore size, shape, and thecharacteristics of the material used, as well as how shadow and shapeinteract –using “measure, mark, and cut” when making their shadow puppets.  By using the puppets, the children see the results of their work and have the opportunity to explore how they can change the shape of the shadow by changing the positioning of their puppet.  
 
KEY STAGE 1 AND KEY STAGE 2 ART AND DESIGN

As with elements from the design and technology modules in the national curriculum, during our workshops children explore the characteristics of the materials they are using, trying their own designs, and creating designs that they may choose to adapt or change as part of the creative process. 

OTHER ELEMENTS OF THE NATIONAL CURRICULUM

Our shows and workshops provide many opportunities to cross reference other elements of the
curriculum, particularly English (EN1) and Mathematics (MA3). 
Though our work can form very direct links to the national curriculum, it can also be used in
creative ways to support almost any other lesson or theme a class is exploring –including stories, ideas, and relationship themes (friendship, etc.).  We believe that the use of puppetry in the classroom is a powerful tool to help children learn and explore creatively and imaginatively.

 

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Read these two newspaper articles about Finger and Thumb's performances in India
Decaan Herald 5th February 2015

Times of India 7th February 2015

Nature brought alive by shadowplay

Sharad Kohli | TNN | Feb 7, 2015
GURGAON: Puppetry is among the oldest of performing arts, going back many centuries. But that doesn't make it any less relevant today. And as a way of telling stories, there are very few art forms more enchanting to the eye.

At the Ishara International Puppet Festival - which got under way on February 3, and goes on until February 11 - Drew Colby mesmerized all with a performance of effortless skill and beautiful simplicity. The Englishman's 'Small Fables' was directed and produced by the Finger and Thumb Theatre (UK).

Colby's love of puppetry began when he was a boy of five, and he brought a child's sensibility to 'Small Fables', that ability - so rare in adults - to empathise with children. Colby is a practitioner of the 'finger and thumb' style of puppetry, one who plays with shadows. To be more precise, he's a 'shadowgrapher'.

'Small Fables' was suffused with natural imagery, a pleasing counterpoint to the anti-ecology of the 21st century. But these 45 minutes of sheer joy, of man embracing nature, never felt moralizing. In fact, by gently poking fun at humanity's quirks, Colby quietly but effectively brought out the futility of antagonizing Mother Nature.

It may look simple but there's plenty of technique involved here, and it relies a lot (as Colby admitted) on "muscle memory". But this affable shadowgrapher brought it off with brio and a sense of fun that the audience - both adults and kids - easily picked up on.

Remember how as girls and boys we'd 'shadow' animals on walls? It was probably one of the few occasions when darkness held no fears for us.

He 'shadowed' cats and dogs, rabbits and birds (perched and in flight) - and even a bear, elephant and monkey. There was a rather psychedelic passage in there, when Colby's hand gestures revealed to us the drama and strange splendour of the ocean, a gorgeous stretch accompanied by spacey lights and music. 

It was utterly convincing stuff. And if the best art is a profound questioning of life, an immersive encounter with the world around us, then 'Small Fables' qualifies as art. In one word, it was a delight.

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In May 2014 Drew created a short hand shadow sequence for the BBC sitcom "Not going out". The episode aired on BBC1 in October 2014.

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The first quarter of 2014 included 45 performances, 14 workshops and 2 days of filming. The company opened two international theatre / puppet festivals (in Chile and India) and gave performances of Small Fables, Circus Bear, Shadow Tails and The Highwayman in venues and schools around the UK. Below is a composite video of all of the companies / performances involved in Fitich9 in Chile.

 

In the last week of February Drew gave five performances in the three Indian cities of Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh to a total audience of over 2500 people! The performances were part of the 12th Ishara International Puppet Festival - here is an article from Time out Delhi with a write up about the show and the festival. Ishara appropriately means "gesture".

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Here is the advert for Nintendo SUPER MARIO 3D WORLD for which Drew designed and performed hand shadow characters. Video here.

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You can see the Finger and Thumb lion running in this video by Gary Friedman productions. The video includes clips from many of the shows on at SUSPENSE 2013 in London. The lion (and the rest of the menagerie) appeared on the last night of the festival at the Puppet Grinder Cabaret to a riotous response. The video is here; the lion appears around 40 seconds in.

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In 2012 Drew created hand shadows in an advert for Lodotra. The advert was awarded the 2012 Bronze Clio Award for a pharmaceutical video. Detailed backstage footage of the shoot and interviews can be seen here.

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Here is a copy of the article about Drew in the Express and Star, August 2013.

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Here is a copy of the report by Smethwick Libraries on the three performances given in Sandwell during August.

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Here is the article about Drew's hand shadow workshop at the Puppet Centre Trust in London in January 2013 - Drew's Puppet Centre Workshop

Time Out, Delhi Article February 2014

 



TOUR DATES

 

MAY 2016
3rd - All Day - The Highwayman & Workshop, Blickfang Puppet Festival, Kassel, Germany
4th - All Day - The Highwayman & Workshop, Blickfang Puppet Festival, Kassel, Germany
6th - All Day - Workshop, Blickfang Puppet Festival, Haydau, Germany
7th @ 5PM - The Ugly Duckling, Blickfang Puppet Festival, Haydau, Germany
10th - 12th - Rehearsal and Development, Junction, Goole
14th @ 2.30PM - Small Fables, Private Party, London
22nd @ 10.30AM & 1.30PM - Small Fables, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
JUNE 2016
2nd @ 2PM - The Ugly Duckling, Harrow Arts Centre, London
20th - 22th - Rehearsal and Development, Junction, Goole
JULY 2016
4th @ 10.30AM - Small Fables, County Bridge Primary School, Walsall
6th @ 9.15AM & 10.45AM - The Carnival of the Animals, Preview, Dulwich Prep, London
7th - 8th - Rehearsal and Development, Junction, Goole
17th @ 3.30PM - The Ugly Duckling, Beverley Puppet Festival, Yorkshire
18th - The Carnival of the Animals, Preview, Junction, Goole
23rd @ 4PM  - The Carnival of the Animals, Midsummer Dreams Festival, Devon
23rd @ 5.15PM - Workshops, Midsummer Dreams Festival, Devon
26th - The Sefita Concert, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
28th @ 5PM The Carnival of the Animals, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
28th - The Sefita Concert, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
30th @ 10.30AM - The Carnival of the Animals, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
30th @ 12.30AM - The Carnival of the Animals, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
31st - Workshops, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
AUGUST 2016
1st & 2nd - Workshops, Holon International Puppet Theatre & Film Festival, Israel
25th - 28th - Shambala, Northamptonshire
SEPTEMBER 2016
3rd - 11th - Finger and Thumb on Holiday!
12th - 16th - Rehearsal and Development, Junction, Goole
17th - The Carnival of the Animals, Premiere, Junction, Goole
25th @ 2.30PM - The Ugly Duckling, The Civic Theatre, Barnsley
OCTOBER 2016
7th @ 9.45AM, 11AM & 1PM - The Ugly Duckling, Ecole Jacques Prévert, London
8th @ 11AM & 1PM - The Ugly Duckling, The Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith
NOVEMBER 2016
27th - TBC, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London



NOTE: When the domain registration for the Finger and Thumb Theatre expired the site disappeared from the WEB. The new owner of the domain greatly admires Drew Colby's work and wanted to keep some of the original content available for any visitors who inadvertantly ended up here while searching for Drew Colby. Pleaswe visit his current website for the most up to date information about this amazing artist. http://www.shadowgraphy.co.uk/.

 

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