On the Couch with Ailie Cohen

Arts Review On the Couch Ailie CohenWho is Ailie Cohen?
A puppeteer, designer, illustrator and maker based in Edinburgh Scotland. I’ve been making my own shows since 2000 and love the fact that puppet theatre or visual theatre often involves more than one creative discipline; performing, writing, designing, and making. It is the design and visual storytelling that really excites me together with working collaboratively. One of my biggest breakthroughs was admitting to myself that I couldn’t do everything myself! So began my collaboration with Lewis Hetherington, Alasdair Satchel and Niroshini Thambar among others.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Activate my sense of humour button more often and take more time off.

Who inspires you and why?
A lot of the time I am inspired by those closest to me, friends and colleagues from all kinds of professions. People and their stories are endlessly fascinating no matter how big or small. Scotland is also full of amazing artists, writers and musicians. I am very fortunate to know and work collaboratively with some of them. It is a very generous and supportive community. Inspiration also comes from noticing small things in the day today and generally getting time to stare out of windows, or climb hills, immersion into all that nature has to offer to see beyond ones own familiar horizons.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Right now I’d find homes for all the refugees currently being refused entry to countries all across Europe.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
A place called Lochinver in the North of Scotland. It is breathtakingly beautiful and remote.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take then to, and why?
Arthur’s Seat – the big hill overlooking the whole of Edinburgh. You get a fantastic view of the whole city … or in August, a night out during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival because anything can happen and it probably will.

What are you currently reading?
The Dirty Dust by Mairtin O Caidhain. Originally written in Irish Gaelic – whose books and short stories have not long been translated into English.

What are you currently listening to?
A band called Fun Adults – there’s family connections to the band and I’m pleased to say they are really, really good!

Happiness is?
Making small steps to find out who you really are and experiencing the joy of how that fits/makes occasional sense with everything else. Also finding out, being with and making the things you love happen.

What does the future hold for you?
We have a lot of touring coming up early next year in Montreal, India and China. I’ll be making a couple of puppets too for another company in Scotland, helping Puppetstate Theatre Company with their new show based on a Tolkein short story, collaborating with Starcatchers and Branar Theatre Company from Galway on The Shape of Things and beginning to play and think about what is brewing next. This requires some staring out of the window time.

Ailie Cohen is a puppeteer, performer, illustrator, designer and puppetry director based in Edinburgh Scotland. She originally thought she would go to art college … then got sidetracked, did a live art degree, went to Moscow to study acting, played violin for a street theatre troupe that busked and starved its way round Europe, and was introduced to the world of puppetry.

Ailie has gone on to work as a performer, designer and maker for among others, National Theatre of Scotland, Leicester Haymarket, Grid Iron, TAG, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Festival Theatre Studio, Wee Stories, The Citizens and Vanishing Point. Her own shows include I Vant to be Alone, Rumpelstiltskin at the Fairytale Laundry, Jazz Mouse, and The New Not New.

Ailie began to collaborate with Lewis Hetherington in 2011 and created Cloud Man and in 2014, The Secret Life of Suitcases. Cloud Man was selected to appear as part of the Made in Scotland Showcase 2011 and is still touring throughout Asia with a Chinese production launching in 2015. The Secret Life of Suitcases is also traveling internationally to Chicago and Australia in 2015 and was nominated for a CATS award 2014 and will appear at the Made In Scotland Showcase 2015.

Presented by Monkey Baa, The Secret Life of Suitcases is currently playing at the Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre until 2 October 2015. For more information, visit: www.monkeybaa.com.au for details.

Image: Ailie Cohen with friend (supplied)