Halloween 2018

Thurtinkle Halloween 2018

DNA Puppeteers Rachel Riggs and Adam Bennnett had a great, ghoulish time at our SHAC artist  annual community celebration. Keeping to the traditional pagan roots of ‘Our Hallows Eve’ and recycling decorations from the local refuse tip, SHAC artists and DNA Puppetry aim to build the community celebration with parades, giant puppets and installations in the future.

Adam Thurtinkle Halloween shac

Over the weeks before Halloween, families were invited to participate in after school ‘Weird Wednesday’ creative workshops to make costumes, magic wands, lanterns and shadow puppets. Making fabulous creations for the scariest night of the year with artists Lynda Moylan, Cerrie Beech and Rachel Riggs

Hundreds of people came trick or treating, to watch Thurtinkle storytelling by the fire, the childrens shadow play and fire show.

For more information about SHAC – www.shacfreo.com

Recent blog post about DNA puppetry at SHAC here

Thank you to photographers and all who participated x


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Tissue Play !

Recently I returned to Como childrens centre in Perth, Western Australia to meet new children and run a series of workshops on ‘Tissue Play’. I was artist in residence here a few years ago and had a weekly opportunity to facilitate child led creative play, engaging with many themes, including ‘Cloud Child’, nature play and much story telling.

Having the opportunity to regularly research and develop early years engagement with themes, objects and materials, is a joy! And new ideas and investigations are always inspiring from the childrens experiential learning journeys.

‘ Using Tissue play and puppetry’ is a book produced by earlyartsuk, outlining the Tissue Play techniques from Imaginary Leaps, for early years educators.

Ideal for all young children but particularly for those first language is not English, or for whom expressing their thoughts and ideas through words presents a huge barrier, this fun teaching pack hugely encourages children’s speaking and listening skills. It can have a massive impact on all areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), and helps build a keen self-awareness and awareness of others.

using tissue paper&puppetry cover

This inspiring resource can be purchased at








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Creating a Puppet Diva!

Wanda diva sings

ToyBox band at Fremantle Street Theatre festival, Western Australia 2018

Ive always wanted to make a simple ‘muppet’ lip sync style puppet to use for singing live and street theatre walkabouts. I love to sing and happiest to have the puppet project the song.

Wanda toybox diva

‘Wanda’ took me a week to make, a few hours a day, creating her from what i had in my craft resources – foam, pipe lagging, polystyrene ball head.

She can wear a varity of wigs, depending on which diva she is based on, for example Karen Carpenter, Dusty Springfield, the possibilities are endless! Her 70’s vintage dress can also be restyled or removed, so she can wear all kinds of retro, funky clothes.

Wand mermaid puppet

Wanda as mermaid for Stretch Festival parade, Mandurah, WA 2018

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DNA Puppetry at SHAC – Sustainable Housing for Artists Collective

SHAC CC Dec 1st (5).JPG

DNA puppetry/Imaginary Leaps has a new home at SHAC in Fremantle, Western Australia! Since moving in last year, we are really happy to be in a unique, world class facility for artists to live and work in a supportive co operative. As well as a studio and storage in our homes, we have community studios for performances and exhibitions, and will be officially launching a whole programme of workshops and performances in the near future!

SHAC CC Dec 1st (6).JPG

Cloud Child has been a big success for families with young children in our local community and DNA is building a programme of regular childrens theatre in the future! as well as an annual Halloween celebration and much more!

SHAC CC Dec 1st (33).JPG

Playing outside with family enrichment and engagement

access house open (10)

SHAC studio upstairs for artist exhibitions

SHAC’s unique native gardens and eco friendly environment

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Melbourne puppetry masterclass

puppetry training image

On Sunday March 18th 2018, Adam Bennett of DNA Puppetry and Visual Theatre conducted a day long masterclass on puppetry manipulation and performance technique.

The venue was Siteworks in Brunswick, a newly opened facility which offers a great set of spaces for a variety of activities. The workshop took place in an open, light and airy space which gave everybody plenty of room to move, create and perform.

Sarah Kriegler of Lemony S and Caitlin Dullard of La Mama Theatre supported the visit of Adam, who flew over from Perth, and helped to find the participants for the day.

puppetry class melbourne

The workshop looked at the physical flexibility and relaxation of the puppeteer, the concentration and focus required and some hand and body training and technique. Lemony S had some practice puppets and with these the participants spent some time on eyeline, focus, thought and impulse, bringing the puppet to life, the puppet’s physicality and the illusion of the laws of physics i.e. when to obey them and when to break them.

puppetry class melbourne

Later the workshop focussed on quick and easy techniques to train in multi-operator puppetry (sometime known as ‘Bunraku’ technique) where three puppeteers work together to bring a fully articulated figure to life. This gives participants the opportunity to look at some issues around puppet manipulation in detail, separately. For example, the legs and feet must always be providing the illusion of maintaining the centre of balance, and the head must always be clearly signalling intention and focus.

multi-operator puppetry

Adam will be conducting further training in puppetry in Perth later in 2018 at the Blue Room Theatre in Perth and at SHAC in Fremantle.


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Cloud Child flys into Fremantle!


In Nov/Dec 2017, DNA Puppetry/Imaginary Leaps gratefully recieved funding from the City of Fremantle, Western Australia to tour their internationally acclaimed Cloud Child interactive puppetry and play to early years settings in the local area .

CC shows SHAC Dec 2nd (12)

Cloud Child explores the bond between parent and child in a touching and delightful way. An interactive theatre performance for young children and their families. With a child-centred approach, the elemental nature of clouds stimulates the imagination and emotional expressive development of early years (under sixes).

Cloud Child Little Peoples Pl (16)

Cloud Child is a highly visual, non-verbal show all about belonging and love.

O'Connor Play & Learn (4)

Every child is given opportunities to participate with their own little fluffy cloud to nurture, animate and sculpt into whatever they imagine.

SHAC CC Dec 1st (30)

The children have an immersive theatre experience with

  • A cloud cloth to crawl under and games
  • Cloud shaped cushions
  • A basket of white cloth with different sensory textures.
  • Originally composed music by Verbal Vigilante
  • Storytelling, improvised with children’s ideas and responses.

DNA Puppetry/Imaginary Leaps presented the interactive performance in early years settings and also in their new home base, living and working at SHAC – Sustainable Housing for artists and creatives, White Gum Valley, for 10 performances.

SHAC CC Dec 1st (5)

DNA founder member and director Adam Bennett, reprised his puppeteer/performer role, expertly manipulating Cloud Child with a new member to the DNA team, circus performer and clown, Lynda Moylan. Adam and Lynda have both trained with Reg Bolton’s Suitcase Circus, so it was a joy to see their complicity working together. Artistic Director Rachel Riggs reworked and produced Cloud Child, bringing in the performers innate clowning skills for this version.

O'Connor Play & Learn (7)

Lynda Moylan is a graduate of Theatre/ Media Communications degree in Bathurst N.S.W. For over 25 years she has worked with Circus, Theatres, and Festivals in Australia, Scotland, England, Spain, Italy, Amsterdam and USA. Lynda now lives in WA  working with Suitcase Circus, Western Australian Circus Festival and WA Circus School and Southern Edge Arts in Albany.

CC rehearsal shac

Cloud Child performed at –

Foundation Early Learning Centre

Cloud Child FELC (12)

First Steps Early Learning Centre


O’Connor Play and Learn

O'Connor Play & Learn (12)

Fremantle Early Learning and Development Centre

O'Connor Play & Learn (9)

International Early Learning Centre

Cloud Child IELC (6)

Little Peoples Place

Cloud Child Little Peoples Pl (17)

Feedback included –

‘Such a beautiful show, even the littlest babies’ attention was captured’ – Jessica Stevens, Fremantle Early Learning & Development Centre

‘The kindy friends loved every minute! That was fabulous! The underlying emotions really captured the children’ – Laura Calabrese, – First Steps Early Learning Centre, Hilton

‘Awesome show! Very interactive and the children were all very interested’ – Robin – Educator, O’Connor Play & Learn

‘Inclusive and goes with the childrens ideas, involves them and lets them lead’ – Beck – Educator, O’Connor Play & Learn

‘The children loved it! Even the babies focused on it’ – Kate Seery – Director, International Early Learning Centre, Beaconsfield

‘Really captivating, they loved it! It was nice and child led’ – Avalon O’Dowd – Director -Little People’s Place, O’Connor

For up to date information – follow Cloud Child on Facebook

DNA/Imaginary Leaps will be touring with another early years show in April 2018 and creating a new work later in the year!

Thanks to SHAC for our new home! and all who supported and participated  x

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DNA puppetry at Glastonbury 2017


DNA had a fabulous rain free Glastonbury this year in the Kidzfield! With a great crew performing in the theatre tent, walkabout and workshops, we had a packed programme for 4 days of creative chaos.

Glastonbury 2017 (125)

Steve Tiplady and Sally Brown from Indefinite Articles made a special collaboration with DNA soundmaker Rebecca Riggs Bennett with the show ‘Clay Time’ for the childrens theatre tent, performing alongside Basil Brush and CBBC. This was an improvised performance, taking the childrens story ideas and animating them in clay.

Glastonbury 2017 (112)

Sarah Nickson and the workshop team ran 4hr make and do sessions everyday, creating   totem poles with recycled bottles.

Glastonbury 2017 (48)

These grew into an installation the walkabout puppets performed around and children interacted with.

Rachel Riggs, Rebecca Riggs Bennett and Steve Tiplady performed walkabout with the much loved Rainbow Cat, Baby and Paul McCartney lookalike scally puppet!

Glastonbury 2017 (75)

We had a great time dancing with the samba band, chatting with children and families, lots of fun!

Rachel also performed with her marionettes and met a few budding puppeteers in the making. People were fascinated with the puppets, all ages….

Glastonbury 2017 (143)

Thanks as always to Tony Cordy and the Kidzfield team…..roll on 2019!

Glastonbury 2017 (73)

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Puppet making Workshops at Fairbridge Festival 2017

Wonderful puppets were made by the children of Fairbridge this year, recycling and making simple rod puppets for play and story telling…

Lots of imagination and lots of play with the ‘angry girlfriend’ and the ‘sad boyfriend’ puppets, amongst many other characters, thanks to the Paper and Scissors tent

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Thurtinkle at Fairbridge Festival 2017

Thurtinkle was all done up and ready for some super storytelling down with the children at the 25th Fairbridge festival, Pinjarra, Western Australia. Over the weekend, he entertained young and old with his stories of far, far, away. it was heartening that many children still love the old fairy tales and know much about making up a good story together. Thurtinkle DNa’s storytelling puppet is a regular now having been present at the festival for 5 years himself!

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Tom Thumb, Cloud Child

Adam Bennett of DNA writes about adventures in European touring in the Spring of 2017

“I’ve been having fun touring Tom Thumb after a break living and working in Australia, starting with a couple of shows at the Albany in Deptford, South London and then a number of shows in various parts of England. The latest shows at the Dukes Playhouse, Lancaster were a blast. Sian Phillips is the original musician for the show, and she lives in Lancaster but wasn’t available so my number two musician Jo Powell stepped in. Jo lives in Sunderland Point nowadays, a little village regularly cut off from civilisation by the tides. We ran through the show the night before to a rapturous bunch of about a dozen local residents in the reading room.

Our restaging of Cloud Child took place at De Poppenzaal in the town of Tournhout, East Belgium

De Poppenzaal is a lovely little puppet theatre in Belgium serving local residents and schools owned and run by Ruud Alles, a very congenial host.

Shakera and I arrived and set up with some help from Ruud and assistance from my Belgian friend Tineke who bravely volunteered to operate the musical cures for the show.

It was the first really warm and sunny afternoon of the European Spring so the theatre wasn’t full but there was a decent crowd of children and adults attending and they all had a wonderful time with many compliments after the show.

This weekend I’m performing Chicken Licken at the Polka Theatre, London, while Rachel is performing Thurtinkle at the Fairbridge Festival in Western Australia so DNA is having a very international time right now.

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