Giant leap in puppetry popularity

Former FirstHand artist Chloe Flockart (right) with Ruth Battle in the play Farm.
Former FirstHand artist Chloe Flockart (right) with Ruth Battle in the play Farm.

The Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is taking advantage of this surge in popularity, last week announcing a new partnership with the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, which will see the school offer a new puppetry and visual theatre unit as part of the Bachelor of Performing Arts degree.

WAAPA course co-ordinator Frances Barbe said it was an exciting time to incorporate puppetry into the training of performing arts students.

‘Puppetry is a great training tool to sensitise performers to the full potential of objects in performance and to develop the visual intelligence of our performance-makers,’ she said.

‘Through their work with Spare Parts, our students will become more visual storytellers who understand the power of the image and metaphor in performance as well as the power of the word. We are so lucky to have a company like Spare Parts here on our doorstep.’

Spare Parts has also announced Humphrey Bower, Yvan Karlsson and Sam Longley as the 2015 members of FirstHand, a program that supports emerging artists to develop puppetry skills.

Former FirstHand artists include Chloe Flockart and Bec Bradley, both nominated in the 2015 Performing Arts Awards, and St John Cowcher, who is on an international tour with The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer.

Spare Parts artistic director Philip Mitchell said he was happy to see puppetry becoming more popular.

‘FirstHand continues to grow year by year, attracting interest from around the country and overseas,’ he said.

‘As a company we’ve been committed to the development of the art form and to training artists interested in the art form since our beginnings in 1981.

‘Programs such as FirstHand, as well as workshops and masterclass presentations, the mentoring of mid-career puppetry artists and now for tertiary students through our partnership with WAAPA are so important to us.’