Taking the pulse of Australian puppetry

Puppetry has featured prominently in recent mainstage productions including Storm Boy and King Kong, but how healthy is the sector really?

Dead Puppet Society’s The Harbinger (image via Facebook)

From the gargantuan stars of Global Creatures’ King Kong – Live on Stage and Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, to smaller but no less essential elements of stage shows such as the touring production War Horse, the STC/Barking Gecko co-production Storm Boy, and the Arena/MTC co-pro Marlin, puppetry has been taking an increasingly prominent role on Australian stages in recent years – but does incorporating puppetry into more traditional theatre dilute the art form, or is it a sign of the puppetry’s increasing sophistication?

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts