Spare Parts Puppet Theatre keeps Splat! in the family


Splat! writer Sally Richardson and performer Yvan Karlsson. Picture: Jon Hewson d455677
Splat! writer Sally Richardson and performer Yvan Karlsson. Picture: Jon Hewson d455677

SPARE Parts Puppet Theatre has played a big role in theatre maker Sally Richardson’s family.

She wrote her show Splat! for the puppetry company, where it premiered in 2007 featuring the father of her three children, dancer Stefan Karlsson.

Now their 19-year-old son Yvan Karlsson will perform in the work when it has a return season for the school holidays.

“Artistic director Philip Mitchell offered him (Yvan) the show and I actually didn’t know he was doing it until much later,” Richardson said.

“It’s funny because Yvan obviously saw it a lot when he was little and my boys very much inspired the show.

“But he’d seen it so many times, he used to sit in rehearsal with his Nintendo because he said he was over it; we certainly never imagined that some years later Yvan would be on the same stage performing in it.”

Yvan, who graduated from John College Curtin of the Arts, was selected last year for Spare Parts’ FirstHand emergent puppetry training program and will be joined in Splat! by fellow dancer Imanuel Dado and Bec Bradley.

“Yvan and Imanuel, who is also new to the show, are both from a dance background and have just brought so much exciting physicality,” she said.

“They’re young guys and their moves are a little bit more funky and cool. They have that youthful enthusiasm that’s infectious.”

The 50-minute, fast-paced production was created for ages three years and older and mixes puppetry with black theatre, circus, animation and paper play.

“It sounds really basic but it’s about how a square, triangle and circle get on with each other,” Richardson said.

“The square is red, the triangle is yellow and the circle is blue. It looks at mood and personality and about how to make friends.

“But it’s also about learning to play through activity; painting and drawing and the idea of blending colour to mix and match, and reminding people you can turn a piece of paper into a whole universe.

“I also wanted to create a show where kids could make a lot of noise, so it’s all non-verbal to music.”

Richardson said her central aim had been to make a show reflecting our need to be treated as individuals.

“All three of my children are very different and it amazes me when people make all sorts of generalisations,” she said.

“Particularly in times like ours, it’s so important to understand empathy and acceptance about people who might be different.

“Stereotypes are damaging whichever way you look at them, but to try and make a show that would appeal to both boys and girls was the real aim, and I think we’ve done that.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre – Splat!

Where: 1 Short Street, Fremantle

When: July 2 to 16

Tickets: www.sppt.asn.au