Join us for a unique one-week puppetry and mask training intensive!

Animated Bodies
a Puppetry and Mask training intensive

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is offering a limited number of places for a unique one-week puppetry and mask training intensive, to be held 4 – 8 May 2020. The intensive will be jointly led by guest artist Ellis Pearson, and Spare Parts Associate Director Michael Barlow.

Participants will develop technical and expressive skills in puppetry and masked performance in an integrated workshop that explores the connections between art forms.

This is a rare opportunity to learn from experienced and passionate artists and develop skills that will translate across performance practice in many contexts.

Course content:

The Actor Vanishes: Discovering the embodied imagination with Ellis Pearson   

Through work with the neutral mask, larval masks and character masks, participants will discover how to free up the imagination by developing an expressive body. The somatic work leads to bolder experimentation and greater connection and playfulness between performers. This will extend to a more interesting relationship between the performer and object, creating a more magical relationship between performer and puppet. At all times, emphasis will be given to the importance of the relationship between the actor and the audience.

Puppets, objects and the spark of life with Michael Barlow

Puppetry opens up expressive possibilities in performance that no other art form can give. With puppets, objects and human bodies we can create new life on stage – and new ways of seeing for audiences. Participants will discover the principles of animation used in puppetry through skills training and exercises with puppets, objects and materials, matched with opportunities for experimentation and in-studio performance making. Performer/puppet relationships, vocal work for puppetry, object theatre, and simple puppet making will be explored.

How to Apply:

We are currently accepting expressions of interest from artists wanting to participate in the intensive. To express your interest in participating please send:

  • your current bio and/or CV (max 2 pages)
  • a cover letter (max one page) outlining key reasons for wanting to participate in the program

Applicants must be able to commit to attending the full intensive (details below).

Date: 4 – 8 May 2020
Times: 9am – 5pm, Mon–Fri
Venue: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short St Fremantle, Western Australia
Course Cost: $275 (including puppet-making materials)

Applications are now open, closing at midnight on Sunday 5 April 2020 and you will be notified of the outcome of their EOI by 10 April 2020. If you are applying from outside WA and need earlier notification to make travel plans, please contact us to discuss.

For more information or to submit applications, please contact:

Michael Barlow
Associate Director
asd@sppt.asn.au | 08 9335 5044

About the artists

Ellis Pearson

Ellis is a painter, a sculptor, a maker of theatre, a theatre director, an actor, a magician, a juggler, a mime, a musician, and now, a teacher of creativity. He combines his inventiveness with a crazy sense of humour to create works of art and theatre that appeal to audiences anywhere in the world.

Since the early 1990’s Ellis has worked as an independent actor, teacher and creator of theatre.  Before that, Ellis was part of several theatre companies. With his colleagues, he created many original works and they toured their unique brand of theatre all over the world:  North America, Europe, Africa and Scandinavia, and performing in festivals in South Korea, Singapore, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Ellis trained for 2 years at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. The Lecoq school is famous for teaching a physical approach to theatre making through movement, mime and mask work.

In his work in the movie industry, Ellis has won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ awards in the feature films “The Angel, the Bicycle and the Chinaman’s Finger” and “Paljas”.


Michael Barlow

Michael is a director, writer and puppeteer. He joined Spare Parts Puppet Theatre as a performer in 1992 to train with renowned puppeteer Noriko Nishimoto and in contemporary mime with Kriszta Bodonyi. Michael’s work reinterprets puppetry technique, mixing puppets, objects, projection and performers in an animated stage.

Since his appointment as Associate Director in 2007 he has directed The Little Prince, The Night Zoo, Miss Lily’s Fabulous Feather Boa, Moominpappa at Sea, Fox, Nobody Owns the Moon, Roald Dahl’s The Twits, Carnival of the Animals (with WA Symphony Orchestra) and The Trial and Life on Earth (with WAAPA). He adapted and created animation for the award-winning production of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, which opened the World Puppetry Festival in Charleville-Mezieres, France 2009.

He teaches puppetry for the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and within Spare Parts artist development programs, and acts as a puppet consultant on other artists’ productions.