HISTORY & PAST SHOWS
Terrapin Puppet Theatre was founded on 22 April 1981 by the late Jennifer Davidson.
Jennifer, a designer from the defunct Tasmanian Puppet Theatre, began with a concerted campaign to establish a Tasmanian schools touring circuit, and the company had a particularly strong design reputation. The company had a large full time staff including puppeteers, designers and makers. Some of the artists involved with the company during this time were Sandy McCutcheon, Tom Samek, Jindra Rosendorf and Noriko Nishimoto. Greg Methé, who is still working with the company today, designed his first show for Terrapin 1985.
Jennifer retired in 1992 and Annette Downs was appointed Artistic Director. Annette continued Terrapin’s tradition of school touring, but also created shows with higher production values for theatres; that resulted in Terrapin playing in Hobart’s historic Theatre Royal for the first time. Terrapin also toured internationally for the first time, staging Desires in Budapest, and Little Red in Korea and Taiwan. Artists involved with the company during this time included Philip Mitchell (now Artistic Director of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre), Lian Tanner and Kirsty Grierson. One of the most successful productions created during this period was The BFG: Big Friendly Giant, which enjoyed success in Hobart then toured Australia over the subsequent three years.
In 1999, Jessica Wilson took over as Artistic Director. In addition to making work for children, Jessica also created productions for adult audiences, resulting in Frankenstein and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, and was a pioneer in the incorporation of projection in live performance. Working with Jessica during this period were artists such as Ben Sibson, Phil Lethlean and Colin Sneesby.
In 2004, Annie Forbes was appointed Artistic Director. Annie created The Storyteller’s Shadow: A Celebration of Hans Christian Andersen, which toured Tasmanian schools then went on to be presented in Denmark, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Artists involved with the company during this time included Sam Routledge (who went on to become Artistic Director in 2013), Richard Jeziorny and Laura Purcell.
Frank Newman was Terrapin’s fifth Artistic Director from 2007 to 2012, when he introduced the concept of Digital Puppetry. Frank’s productions were seen at the Sydney Opera House and the Arts Centre Melbourne, in China, the USA, New Zealand and Ireland, and included the collaboration with the Children’s Art Theatre of China, When the Pictures Came, seen in Shanghai, Adelaide and Hobart. He directed the Helpmann Award-winning Boats, seen in over 400 performances across Australia, on two tours to the USA, and in China. Frank’s final production with Terrapin, Shadow Dreams, a collaboration with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, linked venues in two cities in interactive, simultaneous performance.
Sam Routledge commenced at Terrapin’s sixth Artistic Director in January 2013.
Terrapin acknowledges the publication The Space Between – The Art of Puppetry and Visual Theatre in Australia by Peter J Wilson and Geoffrey Milne (Currency Press), from which some of the information in this history is sourced.
2017 You and Me and the Space Between (Sydney Festival, Ten Days on the Island, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival)
2016 You and Me and the Space Between (Darwin Festival, Brisbane Festival, Melbourne Festival, Tasmanian school tour – above) Egg (Melbourne and Tasmania – above) I Think I Can (Belfast, Birmingham, Taipei)
2015 Red Racing Hood (above) Shadow Photo Booth I Think I Can (Sydney, Hobart, Burnie, Adelaide, The Hague, Vancouver, Calgary, Fayetteville) Boats (Spiegeltent Hobart)
2014 Big Baby (above) Love (USA tour) Sleeping Horses Lie (Hong Kong tour, Victorian tour) I Think I Can (Pittsburgh, Brisbane, Perth, Albany, Melbourne, Launceston, Queenstown – above) Boats (Tasmanian school tour)
2013 Pip & Pooch (above) Shadow Dreams (Ten Days on the Island – above) Boats (2nd USA Tour, WA Tour) Chuan Yuan Pai (Chinese language version of Boats, China tour)
2012 Sleeping Horses Lie (above) Love (Australian Performing Arts Market) Boats (Tasmanian tour)
2011 Love (above) The Waltzing Tree (above) When the Pictures Came (Come Out Festival Adelaide and Ten Days on the Island Hobart) Boats (USA, Ireland and New Zealand tour, and Australian tour) The Falling Room and the Flying Room (Victorian school tour) Helena and the Journey of the Hello (Arts Centre Melbourne)
2010 The Gatekeeper (above)
When the Pictures Came (Shanghai premiere – above) Helena and the Journey of the Hello (Sydney Opera House and Australian Performing Arts Market, Adelaide) Boats (Arts Centre, Melbourne and regional Victoria tour)
2009 The Falling Room and the Flying Room (above) Boats (Hobart season and tour to Adelaide) Explosion Therapy (tour to Melbourne and Adelaide) Helena and the Journey of the Hello (Tasmanian tour)
2008 Helena and the Journey of the Hello (above) Boats (above) Explosion Therapy (tour to Perth and Shanghai)
2007 Explosion Therapy (above) Con Artists
2005 The Storyteller’s Shadow: a celebration of Hans Christian Andersen (above – Premiere season and tour to Denmark) The Garden of Paradise (puppetry direction and project management) Frankenstein (tour to Melbourne) Boxes My Sister’s an Alien (tour to Victoria)
2003 The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (Ten Days on the Island) My Sister’s an Alien
2002 Stormy Night Touch the Air The BFG (Australian tour 2)
2001 The Mighty How Insatiable
1999 Blueback Alice The BFG (Australian tour 1)
1998 Little Red (tour to Brisbane, Victoria, Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Malaysia) The BFG Wannabe
1996 The Hunt Desires (tour to Queensland and Budapest) Jump into the Picture
1995 Jump into the Picture Freedom of the Heart Desires
1994 Cold Feet Freedom of the Heart Heroes Yolla
1993 Cold Feet Heroes Up the Down Escalator Another Place, Another Space Then it Starts to Happen
1992 Another Place, Another Space Then it Starts to Happen Up the Down Escalator Gammer
1991 Bad News Clancy Gammer It’s Not the Fool’s Squid Tell us a Story
1990 Kaguyahime The Flying Flopps It’s Not the Fool’s Squid The Great Gooble Strak Tell us a Story
1989 Bombast and Hearsay Heartburn Hotel The Great Gooble Strak Ice Palais Little Red Riding Hood
1988 Paper Plays Bombast and Hearsay Heartburn Hotel Little Red Riding Hood Small Stories
1987 Home is Where the House is Down Under Small Stories Little Red Riding Hood
1986 Changing Places Bushy Tales The Curiosity Shop
1985 Princess with the Echo Little Red Riding Hood and Budlinek Changing Places Bushy Tales The Sit Down Pig
1984 Intergalactic Twanglers The Curse of Kings Little Red Riding Hood and Budlinek
1983 Thunder and Lightning Little Red Hen
1982 Tanglefoot Billy Goats Gruff
1981 The Soldier’s Tale The Three Little Pigs