Brilliant Black Light and Imaginative Puppet Theatre by Richard Hart and Julia Davis


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Puppetry and  Theatre in Australia

Puppetry is a well developed theatre art form in Australia with quite a few professional companies and practitioners. It ranges from children's theatre to adult and street theatre. It covers a range of different styles and mediums, including film and television.
There is a myth in our society that all puppets are for children and only children believe “dolls” can be “alive”. All puppetry is theatre, just like dance, drama, mime, mask opera etc. All puppeteers are performers and the more highly skilled they are, the greater the range and depth of characters they can portray. Most performance is about creating the illusion that the performer is somebody or something else. The only real difference between an actor and puppeteer is that the puppeteer does this through the puppet and requires specialised skills in this area.

The Mystery behind Dreamer and Black light Explained

The Dreamer productions use a style of theatre called black light. The name is derived from the main sources of light for the performances   -   long fluorescent tubes known as “Black light, blue”, ( not to be confused with “Black light, white”). Black light blue lights are very dark blue in appearance and when switched on, produce blue/violet and ultra violet light at low levels. This light makes any fluorescent colours and bleached white materials glow. The background is black velvet and the puppeteer is also covered in black velvet. If the performance space is nice and dark, the puppeteer becomes invisible while the puppets and sets are clearly seen. In this way, performances in black light can be truly magical. The space must be dark enough for the full effect.

The Dreamer productions reflect several years of experimentation and development in this medium. The results are spectacular, even though the stage is only 3 meters wide.

Rod Puppets

The main type of puppets used in the performances are rod puppets. These puppets have rods attached to key places such as the head, back, elbows, wrists and ankles. This enables the puppeteer to operate the puppet without the distraction of hands getting in the way or being visible. Because this is black light, the rods are just long enough to be held in the hand as the puppeteer can be standing directly behind and still not be visible. The rods are also covered in black velvet to make them invisible.

The Dreamer shows are complete theatrical productions on a scale small enough to travel and fit in a diverse range of venues. The experience of viewing the shows has been compared to having a small state theatre come to you,  rather than you to it. For this reason, the performances contain all the main ingredients of a full scale production, which makes it very useful for theatre studies.

  1. 1.Performance and characterisation.

  2. 2.A traditional art form: puppetry.

  3. 3.Stage design.

  4. 4.Set design.

  5. 5.Lighting design.

  6. 6.Dramatisation of a story.

  7. 7.Visual communication through images, actions, body language, with minimal use of

  8. 8.Integral use of original music to aid the storytelling.

  9. 9.A strong sense of aesthetics.

  10. 10.A narrative / script.

Each one of these elements is a study in on its own. What is also very important is looking at the way they all work together as a unified theatrical experience.




                                          WORKSHOP IN BLACKLIGHT THEATRE.

This workshop will explore the qualities of blacklight and how these can be used to make some very simple, yet dynamic puppets. A range of fluorescent materials will be made available as well as a proper blacklight stage to play in.  Whoopee!

A few themes will be suggested for a short performance. Participants will be asked to choose a theme prior to making the puppets. Those with the same theme will form groups to make a performance together. Examples of simple, effective puppets will be demonstrated to get the participants started.

Materials will be supplied; however if you have an object or material which is obviously ‘fluoro’ or ‘glow in the dark’ (and not precious), by all means bring it along.
Participants will be required to bring or wear the blackest long sleeve shirt or top they can find for the performance. Because there may be some painting and glueing, old or protective clothing is recommended for the making of puppets.

Number of participants: 12
Age group: 9 to 12yrs
Duration: 2 hours

Note: It would help participants if they brought their own good scissors and some paint brushes even though these will be provided. It would just speed things up a bit.

       Black Light Puppet Theatre

                                     What is blacklight puppetry?