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WELCOME TO 2020 We’re not quite sure how it’s 2020 already, but coinciding with this intensely satisfying date, DPS is entering its second decade, and we’re thrilled to be able to share with you what we have in the works for the coming year. 2020 sees more DPS productions than any previous year. We’re kicking off with the return of two old favourites, Laser Beak Man and The Riddle of Washpool Gully, before turning our sights to the creation of Ishmael, a reimagining of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, premiering in co-production with Brisbane Festival and QPAC before transferring to the Sydney Opera House later in the year. Once again we’re also offering a suite of core workshops alongside more intensive residency programs, all of which have been updated to fit within the evolving curriculum and are now available across Queensland and New South Wales. All of our engagement activities can be tailored to suit a wide range of study areas, forms, and interests — we’d love to hear what you’re looking for, and work with you to craft a bespoke experience for your students or community. Behind the scenes, we’re continuing work with our international collaborators and partners as we look to the future, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming Jen Livingstone to the DPS fold who will be working as Creative Producer across a range of new outdoor activation works. We can’t wait to kick things off, and hope that we get the chance to collaborate with you in the near future. Nick, David, Helen and Jen.

Image by Justin Harrison

ISHMAEL by David Morton

Herman Melville’s classic, Moby Dick, is reimagined for a new millennium. On the resource depleted Earth of a not so distant future, a young climate refugee named Ishmael is given the chance to build a new life, provided she can survive a voyage to the outer solar system aboard the MV Pequod under the command of the obsessive Captain Ahab. A contemporary space saga, Ishmael recasts Earth’s no-longer-vast oceans with the immensity of space, and the endless possibilities and terrors it might hold. Taking the form of a live film, the production weaves miniature sets, puppetry, performers and an original score to bring the story to life.

4 – 19 September Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Brisbane Festival

8 – 14 December Sydney Opera House

For Schools

Suitable for: Year 8 to 12 students Subject Areas: Drama, English, Film, Television & New Media and Media Arts Forms & Styles: Contemporary and Hybrid Performance, Contemporary Puppetry, Multimedia and Cinematic Theatre, Transformation of a Classic Text

A Dead Puppet Society, Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Brisbane Festival production Image design by Jacob Brewer. Photo by Maren Searle.


by David Morton, Nicholas Paine, Tim Sharp and Sam Cromack Power City was once the most beautiful city in the world – clean, pure, perfect – and local hero Laser Beak Man worked hard to keep it that way. Drawing energy from the underground Magna Crystals that power the city, his beak-shot lasers turn bad things to good. But now the city isn’t what it used to be, and Laser Beak Man is thoroughly over it. That is until his estranged childhood friends Peter Bartman and Evil Emily return to steal the Magna Crystals. Robbed of his super powers, Laser Beak Man has one last chance to reinvent Power City and save his oldest buddies before they destroy everything. Nominated for four Helpmann Awards (2018), Laser Beak Man is jampacked with Tim Sharp’s trademark visual puns and featuring live music composed and performed by Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music. The world of Laser Beak Man is brought to life in puppet form in this stunning visual theatre work loaded with cutting edge digital imagery and spectacular free-flying AirOrbs.

8 – 12 January

Sydney Festival and Sydney Opera House

16 – 18 January HOTA Gold Coast

A Dead Puppet Society, Brisbane Festival and La Boite production in association with PowerArts. Image by Dean Hanson


Far beyond the outskirts of the big city, near a tiny town that nearly everyone forgot, lay a dry creek bed of no special significance. Once upon a time it was called Washpool Gully. But the world had moved on from insignificant things, and no one had time for dry creek beds. Except in Washpool Gully something was stirring. Shaken by the rumble of engines and the darkening of the sky, something long asleep had decided to wake up. Combining old-fashioned storytelling with contemporary puppetry and miniature sets, The Riddle of Washpool Gully is a reimagined tale of Australian mythology about incredible creatures that might still live in the uncharted corners of our vast country.

8 – 13 July

Brisbane Powerhouse

A Terrapin production in association with Dead Puppet Society. Image design by Sean Dowling. Photo by Peter Mathew.

WORKSHOPS Introduction to Puppetry

60 – 120mins | Primary/Secondary Classroom Connections: Contemporary Performance, Storytelling, Devising and Working as an Ensemble This workshop demystifies the versatile and incredible art form of puppetry and arms participants with the basic skills to create characters and devise visual stories. In a series of exercises, focussing on the fundamental manipulation skills of focus, breath and gravity, participants will gain a grounding in DPS’ iconic puppetry work through: • • • • •

The crafting and use of paper, object, and laser cut training puppets An understanding of Visual Theatre Techniques and Conventions An introduction to puppet manipulation skills The opportunity to devise small scale visual theatre performances A focus on movement and shape to create visual symbol & meaning.


90 – 180mins | Secondary Classroom Connections: Contemporary Performance, Devising, Working as an Ensemble and Working with Stagecraft Using the DPS Prototyping Method, participants will learn the basics behind designing their own puppet character, and using readily available materials to exquisite effect, before working together to explore the principles of puppet manipulation to bring their character to life through a series of visual theatre devising exercises. Using text or image as stimulus students will: • Create a character design with a consideration of form and symbol in visual design • Construct animated puppet skeletons • Form an understanding of different joint & hinge styles • Experiment with simple Puppet Mechanisms

Visual Theatre Processes and Storytelling 90mins to multi-day | Secondary and up Classroom Connections: Contemporary and Hybrid Performance, Contemporary Puppetry, Multimedia and Cinematic Theatre, Storytelling

Spanning the breadth of all forms and technology used in the creation of performance, visual theatre is where we find ourselves most at home. DPS crafts heightened audience experiences through the use of Puppetry, Animation, Light, Sound and Performance. We engage the imagination, tell the impossible stories and balance illusion with real connection to character and narrative. This workshop will give participants the opportunity to explore the theatre-making tools used by DPS, and work through a process of scripting, devising and rehearsing short Visual Theatre performances. Participants will engage in: • Conceptual and storyboarding exercises • Design and construct props & puppets using readily available materials • Devise content in groups, considering light, scale, music, shape & form • Discuss constructive feedback • Polish & present rehearsed performances

RESIDENCIES In addition to one-off workshops, DPS artists often work with schools, theatre programs, and community groups on longer, more intensive projects. If you have a unit of work, theatre project, play or musical where a longer form collaboration would suit, we’d love to talk about how we can help. With ten years of experience directing and facilitating residencies that run across a week or multiple school terms, we can tailor a process that provides a deeply insightful experience, whether this be through devising a new work, designing and building custom puppets, or rehearsing and presenting an existing text using visual methods. Past residencies have included: • Theatre Residency Week Facilitation (Queensland Theatre) • Puppet Design and Direction (The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe, Kings Christian College) • Workshops & Community Performances (Horn Island & Thursday Island State Schools) • Mini School Artist in Residence (Mount Isa School of the Air) • Artist in Residence (Centre for Artistic Development, Redcliffe State High School) • Puppetry Training (Starlight Children’s Foundation)

TESTIMONIALS “Our school has employed travelling artists for more than 20 years. DPS was the most engaging, responsive, fun and professional of them all. Initially I was attracted to them because of their wonderful name but now I would engage with them because of what they deliver, outstanding. They will work with you to deliver a wonderful experience for your school community.” TIM MOES, MOUNT ISA SCHOOL OF THE AIR

“King’s Christian College is delighted and privileged to partner continually with DPS, and we whole-heartedly testify to the wealth of talent, passion and professionalism that their entire team brings to any and every endeavour they pursue.” CHRISTINE HARM, KINGS CHRISTIAN COLLEGE (GOLD COAST)

“St Luke’s Drama and Art Department had a most engaging and creative workshop with DPS. Their full day workshop introduced our artistic team and a group of students to the beautiful artform making and operating puppets. DPS artists are exceptional teachers and they bring much joy and experience to the workshop. I highly recommend DPS. Wonderful innovative artist and educators!” DELIA HUGHES, ST LUKE’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL (SYDNEY)

ISHMAEL: This project is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland. LASER BEAK MAN: This project has been assisted by the Australian government through the Department of Communication and the Arts’ Catalyst—Australian Arts and Culture Fund. Developed as part of New Victory LabWorks at The New Victory Theater in New York City. Originally Commissioned by Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. This project is supported by Creative Sparks, a joint initiative of Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, and assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. Funding support for this project has been provided by The Jim Henson Foundation. THE RIDDLE OF WASHPOOL GULLY: Terrapin is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and through Arts Tasmania by the Minister for the Arts. Special thanks to: Annette Box for being our Education Consultant!

PUPPETS FOR PURCHASE For the first time in five years, DPS are proud to once again offer laser cut training puppets for purchase. Designed by our core team, and fabricated using methods identical to those used in our productions, these neutral, wooden puppets have been specifically designed to break down the technical barriers that often face teachers and arts workers wanting to use puppets in their programs. Crafted with flexible joints, and easily repairable in the event of a break, these puppets can be provided pre-finished by our artists, or can be assembled by your students/artists as a part of a workshop or residency. Prices start at $350 + GST, with significant discounts available for larger orders, or when purchased alongside our workshops.

Image by Barb Lowing

Profile for Dead Puppet Society

Dead Puppet Society 2020  

Dead Puppet Society 2020