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Archive for puppets

Dispatch by Barking Spider Visual Theatre

Terrible Comfort heartily encourages you to go see this show:

“From nothingness we come, by nothingness we are sustained, to nothingness we return.”
Hindu philosophy

Dispatch is contemporary visual and puppet theatre at its most delightful. Beautifully created and performed by Penelope Bartlau from Barking Spider Visual Theatre, Dispatch is enthralling, ethereal and timeless.

A fascinating visual and theatrical poem, Dispatch follows puppet character ‘Sorrel’, a young girl who journeys alone in a leaky boat, arriving at “the Middle place“, a nowhere-land island in the middle of an ocean.

Writer/Director: Penelope Bartlau
Performers: Penelope Bartlau& Justine Warner
Dramaturge: GillyMcInnes
AV Design: Edward Dowling
Lighting Design: Damien MacLean
Sound Design: Angie Grant
Puppet Design: Annie Forbes
Set Design & Build: Tim Denton & Danielle Goronszy
Producer: Laura Milke Garner

Tue 2 Feb 10 to Sun 7 Feb 10 at Fourtyfivedownstairs
times: Nightly at 8pm
ticket price: $25 Full
$20 concession
(03) 9662 9966
book online


Space is all around you. Change it.

It’s very easy to get caught up thinking this is a puppet project. Or a theatre project. Or an installation project.
Infact, any number of labels glitter like the promises of false prophets, tempting us to forget the original intention of Terrible Comfort.

I guess, when you’re working on a particular thing, you get focused on the details and mechanic of it’s form and your world can reduce down to the rules of engagement specific to the form.

Rules are the problem you see.

What you gotta remember is that the rules of each game are set up to give boundaries for that individual instance of creative activity. They’re also not supposed to be the first thing you do. Rules of spacial engagement have to evolve as the project forms. Organically crawling swamp thing like out of the problem solving of the process, as the project finds its ultimate expression this time around.

Contrarily, whatever rules you set up within the context of the particular project have their own complicated structural sets and rythms that demand that new rules evolve as the project develops and are infact broken occaisionally, subverted constantly and exceptions made when rythm and melody demand it.

And the whole thing gets started again when you start on a new thing.

So we come out of Everything Will Be Okay (with a remount planned for next year) and i’m thinking, okay, puppets. And that starts to inform my thinking about the next project. We’re paring the remount with an all new work you see, for those who saw the fringe show, they get to see something new too – plus 38 minutes seems acceptable during a festival but it’s not cool if you’ve dragged yourself out at night just to see this show…

And i’m distracted by the idea that this new show needs to be a puppet show – and already there are rules from without being imposed, externally to the process.

So that’s a thing that i’ve learned and i need to keep learning. Tell the story. Aproach the space. Let the peice tell you what it’s rules are. Keep your big fat mouth shut.

And in the mean time we’ve got some fun transformations happening out in the world. Space isn’t just a theatre or a gallery. Infact, it’s barely a theatre or a gallery at all. There’s way more space out there that isn’t a theatre or a gallery than is.

So, keep an eye out for space that’s subverted by something. We’re posting pictures of our development phases. The first one’s called Do Shoes Hanging From a Telephone Wire Really Mean There’s Drugs Nearby (and How Do You Know Which House To Go to If They Do?)

I dig it.

Terrible comfort is transforming space.

You too can be space that is transformed by terrible comfort. Check out our brand new RedBubble page and our terrible comfort t-shirt. Be transformed.



Only two shows left of the two week run.

And during our first week, what we were doing but planning the next one. Sheesh. But I think it’s gunna be interesting.

So I’m currently embarking on what you could call a pre-project, creating one of every type of puppet we can think of, to learn how they move and figure out what kind of stories they’d be most useful for. Plus, we’re using only what we have around the house, which is fun and cheap.

Bunraku type puppet out of toilet rolls, check.
Rod puppet out of dowel, felt and an old pillow case, check.

We’ve got a number of foam mouth puppets and finger puppets kicking around, so next is a simple hand puppet I think. Weirdly enough I’m not sure I’ve ever created what surely must be one of the most common puppets to make before. To make it interesting, I’ll make a paper mache head for it, something else I’ve never done.

Love it!



So we’re halfway through the run of the show and we’re learning a lot as we go. We’ve found that we’ve inadvertently rediscovered a number of old types of puppetry that arn’t used so much anymore.

So, here is the official list of the types of puppets and puppetry used in the show:

Mainly it’s Tabletop Puppetry (where the puppets are all small and the stage is a, you guessed it, table top. In fact, our stage is an heirloom card table) with a little Toy Puppetry mixed in.

The puppets themselves are Marottes (static shapes on rods) mixed with Object manipulation puppetry
and then there are a couple of examples of Caricature puppets (where they look like specific people (well, Kevin Rudd wouldn’t take our calls)), Mouth puppets (the guys that can open and close their mouths) and Finger puppets. Then, for added affect, there’s fire, glitter, bubbles and desk lamps. This show, it’s got it all!

Theatrical spectacular, in miniature puppet form.

And damn pretty to boot.


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