Backstage at Aura’s Odyssey – Lee Threadgold & Dawn Dyson-Threadgold

Listen to the interview here.

LEE THREADGOLD & DAWN DYSON-THREADGOLD – Animated Objects Theatre Company

Animated Objects have been making community work with large scale puppets for nearly 20 years. Over the last ten years we’ve worked directly with more than 50,000 people, ranging from toddlers to participants who are 105 years old. 

The creation of Aura is part of a larger scale project we’ve been running called The Odyssey, An Epic Adventure on the Yorkshire Coast. The reason we wanted to make a five metre tall puppet is that when we looked at the work of Homer, who wrote the Odyssey, there was a real lack of perspective from the point of view of the civilian population. There was Troy, this gigantic city under siege, and we hear about gods and goddesses and heroines and heroes. But what about the ordinary people living there? That’s true of more modern works too. When you watch a film like Star Wars or The Avengers you don’t hear about the person whose house was flattened by Thor while he was saving the city. So we created a character that represented them – Aura – a young teenager living in this city in the middle of an epic conflict.

We allowed Aura’s story to develop itself. She was originally a displaced character who arrived by sea. But the central focus isn’t on Aura’s previous troubles, it’s more about the story of how she is welcomed and received by the communities she arrives in. Each different location gives her a different welcome. That’s the exciting thing about moving Aura to Crawley: she’s meeting a completely different group of people, different communities from dozens of different backgrounds. People connect with her in all sorts of different ways. Some may just be there for the spectacle, others may want to know about Aura’s past, others are interested from a technical or theatrical point of view. It’s a piece that encompasses all those aspects.

The reason we love these giant puppets is that it puts adults into a situation of feeling like children again, and they create a sense of wonder in audiences of all ages. There’s something primal about it. They suspend disbelief. To see a giant puppet on a street you walk down everyday of your life is really special. People get really moved by it. We often find that when people are with Aura, although we get questions about how she’s made, most of the time people want to tell us how they feel.


Lee is the Artistic Director of Animated Objects Theatre Company. Aura will be in Crawley from 11 – 14 August as part of Aura’s Odyssey. You can find out more here.

Interview by Tim Bano