No strings for Jessica Harlond-Kenny in Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s Hachiko

Jessica Harlond-Kenny. Picture: Jon Hewson
Jessica Harlond-Kenny. Picture: Jon Hewson

EVERY child has picked up a cardboard box and turned it into a car or a castle.

Using paper, simplicity and plenty of imagination, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre production Hachiko will tickle young minds.

Telling the true story of a faithful dog and his master, it applies Japanese-inspired paper craft puppetry to bring its characters to life.

“This form of puppetry is not traditional,” puppeteer Jessica Harlond-Kenny said.

“Some people will come and may be confused and think there is no puppetry in this at all but there is – it’s very heavily loaded with puppetry but it’s not your strings and normal puppets.

“The biggest challenge is that it’s all paper so it rips – we’re gentle with it and there are a few little cheats, a few little tricks of the trade, where it looks as though it’s cardboard but some of the heavier ones actually aren’t.”

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Harlond-Kenny said she discovered puppetry while studying performance at ECU.

“I thought ‘I don’t really want to be a puppeteer but I’ll try and let’s see what happens’,” she said.

“I applied (for the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre course) and have never looked back. I love it – it’s an incredible art form.”

Harlond-Kenny last performed Hachiko three years ago and is thrilled to be back sharing the narrative of a faithful Akita who waits for his deceased master every day at a Tokyo train station for nine years.

“It does deal with a heavy topic but it’s a heavy topic that is important for children so they can have some sort of context to draw from,” she said.

“It’s an important story of loyalty, friendship and resilience – we don’t focus on darkness, we focus on the lightness of this work.”


What: Hachiko

When: April 8-22

Where: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short Street, Fremantle