PERTH puppeteer Tim Watts is used to being bombarded with all the theatre-making decisions while working on his independent shows, including It’s Dark Outside and The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik.
It was these productions that sparked the attention of director Luke Kerridge when searching for creative minds to help him and Dan Giovannoni on Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories, their stage adaptation of Reinhardt Jung’s novel Bamberts Buch der verschollenen Geschichten.
Watts’ consultancy on puppetry during the creative development of the project, presented by Barking Gecko Theatre Company, soon turned into an invitation to perform too.
“It’s unusual for me to work in this more traditional way, where you have a whole lot of people each doing an individual job,” Watts said.
“Usually I’m in charge and have to do everything, which is really stressful.
“This is great because every day there are new people bringing in cool new props and toys, and I just get to focus on performing.”
Watts plays various characters and is the main puppeteer of Bambert, an impossibly small man who writes stories and lives a very secluded life away from the world.
He said the show had “a tender Pixar quality to it, with little injections of episodic fun” in Bambert’s stories.
“The stories do get darker and darker as the play goes on and you begin to understand the psyche of the writer,” Watts said.
“It’s a little like Pixar’s Up meets Jim Henson’s The Storyteller.
“There’s a real sentiment around the power of stories and what it means to write a story and send it out into the world.”
Although Watts is usually his puppet’s creator, Bambert was made a few years ago by puppet maker Hamish Fletcher.
“He’s a beautifully made puppet, very well thought-out and considered, and not a type of puppet I have every used before,” Watts said.
“He’s made to be a realistic-looking, tiny, old man with very fashionable pants, shirt, vest and glasses.
“There are mechanisms in the back with strings to operate the legs and little toggles to operate the hands and head.
“He is really adorable and whenever people see him there is that real moment of awe.”
Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories is recommended for ages eight years and older.
What: Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories
Where: Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA
When: April 8 to 23