29 July 2005

Tall Horse on tour

In 1826, the Pasha of Egypt put a whole new slant on the notion of gift giving, ordering a giraffe be captured in Sudan and brought to France’s King Charles X. Duly snared, the giraffe and her abductor set off on the long journey, during which they develop a powerful bond. It’s a story so fantastic that it has to be true—and most of it is.
An intra-African collaboration between South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company and the Sogolon Puppet Troupe of Mali, Tall Horse is vibrant and evocative theater, drawing on the story’s complex political, social, and cultural implications. The production turns the historical tables to show the African “discovery” of Europe, examining both the past and present state of African-European relations. Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa, in collaboration with the Sogolon Puppet Troupe of Mali, dancer and choreographer Koffi Kôkô of Benin, New York-based playwright Khephra Burns and South African director Marthinus Basson are mounting TALL HORSE.

Its playing throughout the US in August-September and also forms part of the Next Wave 2005 Festival - BAM Harvey Theater in New York Oct 4—8 at 7:30pm, Oct 9 at 3pm. See you there?

28 July 2005

Fuzzy Math?

He banned puppetry during his re-inauguration campaign! He has become that very same puppet he banned. Thanks to Naomi, I got drawn, once again, to at Atom Films, who have some great animation on their site! Check out Fuzzy Math and the other interesting stuff! You have to register, but it's free and worth it...
Note: Just a reminder that Saturday night is our Puppetry Film and TV students' screening, here at Sydney Film School. For more info, ping me!

27 July 2005

The Journey

My adventure begins in four weeks... it's all about a lecture tour of the United States, Europe, Israel and then a back to Africa for a bit of summer, before returning home. My first stop is Chicago, then New York, where the work begins. There I will be meeting up with my cameraperson to start shooting the final interviews for my documentary 'Looking for a Monster' in New Jersey, West Palm Beach, Florida and Toronto. Then the lecture tour starts at the University of North Michigan, New York and Boston, before flying to London for workshops in Statford in early October. After that I'll be speaking at a UNIMA (UK) function, about 'Puppetry and Politics' in London, on 11 October, followed by workshops at the Vienna International School and the Mistelbach Puppetry Festival in Austria. Then the workshops and lectures continue in Poland, Israel ...! Check the article on 'International Roaming'. I will keep you updated from all these exciting spots, where I'll report back on my progress and the puppetry taking place in these places. So stay tuned.... !

26 July 2005

Melbourne's Puppet Palavar

Melbourne's finest adult puppetry smorgasbord, Pure Puppet Palaver, starts tomorrow night for a stimulating night of variety downstairs at Dantés in Fitzroy. This new production is bigger, weirder and even further beyond your wildest puppet dreams! It's on at 9pm on Wednesday July 27th to Saturday July 30th at Dantés, downstairs, Cnr Napier and Gertrude Streets, Fitzroy BOOK NOW! 03-9816 8693 or Media enquiries to Philip Millar at Puppetvision: 0438 744 547

25 July 2005

Brand New Address

As you will no doubt notice, our blog title has changed to reflect our brand new web address: www.puppetrynews.com We will also have a new puppetry film screening blog site up soon, so watch this space!
This week sees the final performances of the 'Puppetry for Film and Television' students, at SydneyFilm School, on Saturday night 30 July at 8pm. If you keen to attend, contact me for details! On Thursday 11 August at 7pm, is our Puppet Erotica night here, where we will be screening 'hot' puppet sex and hopefully a live cabaret from Melbourne will be performing.. isssh! Let me know if you're keen to come!

There are still a few places left for our Two-day Puppetry Experience at the Sydney Community College which starts this Sunday 31 July and continues on Sunday 7 August. The course explores: The world of inanimate objects - Performance techniques - Giving life to paper and objects - Discovering the world of the puppet - Creating a small miracle on stage - How lighting and sound can amplify a performance! Few places left, so book online NOW!

24 July 2005

Great Scott

Just a quick note to PuppetVision and all those interested in building television puppets. Andrew posted 'punto patterns' on his great blog on Friday and also previously mentioned reticulated foam or Scott foam, as it's called in the States. But, here in Sydney, even though it's locally manufactured, it's becoming more and more expensive. It is great to work with though and comes in blue, yellow, green and red. Its normally used in airconditioners for filteration and can also be used in combination with softer foam for flexible movement in joints, which offeres less resistance to movement. It's quite eay to play with the foam and create your own puppet patterns. We give our students a basic pattern and work with them in developing new and innovative characters from this. Problem is always the time restrictions though! (The Muppets used this technique too!) As was mentioned, reticulated foam does take dye very well and gives strong colours. The puppet can also be sprayed with paint, which also extends the life of the character when the dye begins to fade. However most of my students cover their foam puppet in a stretch fabric, which makes a great skin!

23 July 2005

Prophet or Puppeteer?

In the early 16th century, one man is said to have predicted much of the events occuring in the world today. His name was Michel de Nostradamus. Was he a prophet or just a puppeteer? Did he in fact predict the future or just manipulate history by foretelling the world it's approximate finality? Nostradamus prophisied many of the events happening today! What prompted me to look at this now? Today many people were murdered by bombers in Sharem El Sheik, Egypt. Then the terrible bomb attacks in London over the past weeks by .. 'the man in the blue turban from East', which he refers to. Is this just me or does it start to ring bells?

On a brighter note, before it all ends, there are still some places left for my two-day puppetry workshop at Sydney Community College, starting next weekend. It's your last chance to book, so do so TODAY. Click here!

22 July 2005

Avenue Who?

Being so isolated on this island of Oz, it's not until recently that I actually heard anything about Avenue Q! Avenue who? That's a show, that's been running on Broadway for the past few years - that's in the United States! Where? Well, from what I can gather (one of my favourite students lent me the CD last night), it takes the concept of Sesame Street to a new level. So it becomes an adult experience .. but with puppets? Yes! Well, there's Rick Lyon (the one on the right in the pic) who I haven't seen since Jim Henson's TV puppetry class in France in 1987, who tells me that they also open soon in Las Vegas. So now I want to see this exotic puppet musical when I hit New York in September. Anyone wanna join me? Oh well, "it sucks to be me"!

21 July 2005

A Family Affair : Puppeteer Wanted!

Opportunity for emerging designer theatre crafts worker to work in collaboration with designer Katja Handt on the creation of hand puppets for A Family Affair being performed at Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre in Sydney, Australia : August 5th - 21st 2005. Looking for a keen person to design and build puppets that could also perform in the show.
If you are interested in a challanging opportunity to work with a professional team in finding effective and evocative solutions within our time frame, then contact: Production Manager
Jane Grimley 0423-382816

Puppetry for Film and Television in 2006

Puppetry for Film and Television Courses at Sydney Film School in 2006 are now open for enrolements. Students will now have the option of enroling for the puppetry component alone or choosing a combination together with all elements of film and television. We are also adding an advanced course for television production. For further information, contact me!

19 July 2005

Latest Puppetry Events

There are quite a few events lined up here at Sydney Film School in the next few weeks. Wanna hear more? Our next film screening-cabaret evening will be on Thursday 11 August at 7 pm at Sydney Film School, 82 Cope Street (corner Philip Street) Redfern-Waterloo. The theme is Puppet Erotica’. So pop along for a fun-filled evening of puppet ego, which will include both film and live cabaret! This will be my last event in Sydney this year as I’m off on an international lecture tour for 4 months, starting in the United States in late-August.

Our 2005 ‘Puppetry for Film and Television’ students will screen their short film pieces at Sydney Film School on Saturday 30 July at 8pm sharp. If you are interested in sharing this experience with them, then email me!

There are only a few places left for our Two-day Puppetry Experience at the Sydney Community College which takes place on Sunday 31 July and Sunday 7 August. The course will explore: The world of inanimate objects - Performance techniques - Giving life to paper and objects - Discovering the world of the puppet - Creating a small miracle on stage - How lighting and sound can amplify a performance! Few places left, so book online NOW!

Theatre LOTE Fantastique production of Der Schock is a bilingual (German-English) play for NSW school students based on the freaky book of rhymes, 'Der Struwwelpeter' by Heinrich Hoffmann. It will take place on Friday 22 July, 7.00pm at Stanmore - Camperdown Community Hall. For more information, contact David.

Puppeteers Wanted in Australia

Camp Quality is a non-profit organisation that is committed to bringing hope and happiness to every child living with cancer. Camp Quality has a new fun therapy puppet program and is looking for 2 casual puppet operators. Giggle is a remote controlled robot puppet that is designed to roll around kids oncology wards and interact with the children. They are looking for a dedicated operator in Sydney by end October and Melbourne by January 2006. The positions are casual initially, approx 25 hours per month, but will doubtless increase as Giggle gets more invitations. Please email Paulene for further details!

18 July 2005

Happy Birthday Madiba

Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela. Today is Madiba's 87th bithday. He is celebrating it with his family in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa, which used to be the Transkei, where Mandela was born in 1918. The last time we heard from him was from the stage of the 'Live 8, the long walk to justice' concert in Johannesburg on 2 July. See the report here!

Other news I find quite exciting is the new video webcasts, involving puppets and animation, taking place recently. One of the most innovative is the Virgin Mobile web commercial being webcast from Canada. Another is The Abstractions - take a peek! (Thanks to PuppetVision Blog - see the other webcasts on here!)

15 July 2005


Over the past few days I have been editing video footage of my work with 'Puppets Against Aids' which I started in 1987, in South Africa, which soon spread internationally. It is so strange seeing footage of oneself, all those years ago, performing in urban and rural communities throughout Africa, Canada, Reunion, France, Australia and even up in the Eastern Arctic with the wonderful Innuit, high above the tree-line in northern Quebec. There was also a video of the huge grey puppets performing live at The Tribute to Freddy Mercury Aids Concert, which was simulcast in Johannesburg and London in 1992. Another through Botswana, right up in the beautiful Okavanga Delta, with our group taken on a makoro trip among the crocdiles and hippos after a performance. Soon I will arrive in the United States for the start of my lecture tour, armed with these fantastic films and a whole bunch of memories!

14 July 2005

Odds and Sods... sex and puppets

We are holding our Puppetry for Film and Television Workshop showcase of short performances, here at the Sydney Film School on Saturday 30 July at 20h00. If any of you are interested in attending, please email me for details!
Whoever thought of Big Brother - the UNCUT puppet version, where the housemates would run naked around the house, without embarressing themselves? I did! It would certainly be more interesting than what I saw the other night. Who watches this stuff? I believe puppets could do a better job and be less inhibited. Less ego! One could sculpture the bodies to perfection first, before they strip and the sex scenes would be rehearsed to show the ultimate... funny side?

And then there's American Idol. Help! It seems like The Muppets might have a similar idea? (Thanks to Andrew), I found this strange article about Kermit and Miss Piggy being the judges and auditioning new puppeteers. Count me out of this one!

12 July 2005

International Roaming?

An internationally roaming puppeteer, Yours Truely, is doing a lecture tour in the United States, Canada, and Europe, starting in late-August, for the next few months, giving presentations at universities , etc on the following topics:
1. Prison reform, and the role of puppetry therein
2. Use of puppetry in the global struggle against Aids
3. Intercultural Communication - Bridging communication gaps through puppetry
4. Puppetry and politics in South Africa – from Puppets Against Apartheid to Puppets for Democracy
5. Producing puppetry for film and television
6. Theory and use of puppetry for education, social change and entertainment.
I'm planning on being in the US-Canada in September, UK-Europe-Israel in October-November and finally South Africa in December. If you are interested in more information, please contact me!

9 July 2005

Marionettes make finalists in film competition!

The marionette film 'THUMP and JULIE' made the final ten out of more than two hundred films entered tonight in the 24-hour 'THE SHOOT OUT' film festival in Newcastle, Australia. Here are some more of the shots taken in the early hours of yesterday morning. The two human marionettes, played by Sally Byrne and Daniel Funnell made really great puppets. I went up with some of my wonderful puppetry students for a fantastic weekend of film-making. We will try get some video clips loaded up here soon!

Thump and Julie

Goodmorning folks! We are coming to you live from THE SHOOT OUT Film Festival in Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney. It's now 2-20am and the 24 hour non-stop film competition is on! The first film of the three we are shooting, Thump and Julie, is about a day in the life of a marionette, being performed, as you can see, by 'human' actors, trying as best they can to loose their ego and be the best marionette possible! The competition demands short films to be made with specific props and scenes in shot, but with no editing. It's almost three in the morning, so stay tuned and you'll be updated on the action in the morning, if we eventually get some sleep!

8 July 2005

Two-day puppetry workshop in Sydney

A two-day Puppetry for Theatre and Creativity Workshop is taking place on two consecutive Sundays, later this month. On 31 July and 7 August, we are running an exciting workshop at Sydney Community College.

The course will explore: The world of inanimate objects - Performance techniques - Giving life to paper and objects - Discovering the world of the puppet - Creating a small miracle on stage - How lighting and sound can amplify a performance!
Limited places available, but you can book online here!

7 July 2005

Shock and Horror

Today I spent the whole day editing a 'Puppets Against Apartheid' street performance video, from South Africa in the eighties, to use on my lecture tour of the United States and Canada in September. I returned home tonight to the devastating news of the explosions. At least four bombs were detonated this morning on tubes and buses in London.

World leaders are speaking out once again on the first day of the G8 talks. But what can we, as ordinary individuals do, to defend our values, our lives and our loved ones? We must stand up for our rights! Stay tuned to the news for regular updates on the BBC website. My condolensces to all involved and their families.

Techniques Today

After the workshop last night, I decided to check out a few other puppetry technical sites and reveal those to aspiring puppeteers out there. One interesting puppetry - animation forum lists many varied topics with plenty construction techniques, so check out StopMotionAnimation.

For those who don't yet know the Puppetry Home Page, there's a hefty section on puppet design and construction. For paper mache recipes, there are a few available. I think the best one is still Canadian Ronnie Burkett's receipe. Check it out!

6 July 2005

International Contributions?

If you are reading these daily blogs and are interested in contributing with some NEWS AND VIEWS of your own, please send them for inclusion in our Puppetry News. I'm also interested in the reports of people, from anywhere in the world, or beyond, who have seen an extraordinary piece of live theatre, film or television, which supports puppetry of any kind. This is an open blog for news and views, so please email me your thoughts, opinions and sightings!

5 July 2005

Tassie's Terrapin off to Denmark

Every day, more and more Australian puppeteers are seen entering the international arena! Tasmanian puppet company, Terrapin Theatre, are heading off to Denmark in honour of a classic storyteller. The celebrated company will be presenting their latest school production, The Storyteller’s Shadow to Danish audiences in August and September this year. The production, written by world renowned puppeteer, Richard Bradshaw OAM and directed by Anne Forbes, incorporates several of Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen's most beloved stories – The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, The Shirt Collar and The Princess and the Pea. The performance mixes traditional and 21st century puppetry styles and techniques, such as shadow puppets, paper cut outs, projections and sound-scaping.

4 July 2005

We want to be puppeteers, or do we?

Our puppetry dabate continues! The Australian puppetry world will never be the same again. If you recall, it all began with an article 'Who wants to be a puppeteer?' in Arts Hub, posted by Naomi Guss on 20 June. On the same day, I responded and posted my response here!

Today Melbourne puppeteers, Peter Wilson and Gilly McInnes, teaching in the Postgraduate Diploma in Puppetry at the Victorian College in Melbourne, posted their response on Arts Hub 'We want to be puppeteers!' According to them, puppetry is gaining recognition in Australia; and there is no doubt that the art form here is flourishing.

Click here for the article, in which Peter and Gilly offer their perspective on the industry; discuss
the increasing opportunities for work; Australia’s global role; the increasing quality of work being produced here; as well as talk about the need for education programs to further develop our skills and national tradition.This is one of the most exciting times in the history of puppetry in Australia – we are in the midst of a solidifying critical mass of artists producing, making, writing, applying for funding, studying, performing and attending puppet theatre in Australia.

The healthy debate continues and only proves, once more, that we are certainly living in interesting times and although the available funding in Australia may be at an all-time low, the interest and stimulation in the art, is indeed very strong! Let the puppet provocation continue... la lutta continua!

2 July 2005


Tune in, switch on, cause today's the day! 'Live 8, the long walk to justice' concerts are happening in your city or on your television today!
"Aid really works" says Bob Geldorf, the global organiser and super star. "Poverty is not natural. It is man made and can be overcome by the actions of human beings" adds Madiba (Nelson Mandela).
I remember so clearly the day Nelson Mandela walked out of prison in Cape Town in 1990 and how South Africans could walk tall together for the first time! Let's do the same as a united global villiage. Let's all do our part. So tune in and walk the talk today!

1 July 2005

Puppet Porn and the Workshop

Puppet Erotica is the theme of our next Sydney Film School Puppet Film Screening - date to be revealed soon! What we are looking for is live puppetry performance or videos of performances that cover the World of Puppet Erotica. If you are in possession of puppet porn, please contact me!

On a different note, it is confirmed that our
Two-Day Puppetry Workshop will be held on Sundays 31 July and 7 August at the Sydney Community College. LIMITED PLACES - BOOK NOW!
The course will explore:
Discovering the world of inanimate objects
Learn simple performance techniques
Giving life to paper and objects
Discovering the world of the puppet
Creating a small miracle on stage
Learning how lighting and sound can amplify a simple performance
If you are interested in enrolling for this course, you can book online here!