Move over Muppets

The winning entrant of the Design a Puppet Challenge, Australian Islamic College student Jaafar Shukar.

SPARE Parts Puppet Theatre has taken a page out of The Muppets’ book and will have a crack at a musical as a part of its 40th anniversary celebration.

Established in 1981, the theatre provides entertainment for all ages with intricate puppet designs and performances.

Artistic director Phillip Mitchell said the theatre’s history was filled with opportunities and challenges, and the anniversary would celebrate all its supporters over the years.

The troupe’s first musical, The One Who Planted Trees, features original songs by Broadway composer Carmel Dean and local talent Melanie Robinson and will be sung by a cast of Australian animal puppets.

Mr Mitchell says the musical is an uplifting story about the power of one person to make a difference in the world. 

“It is both fun and joyous, and a perfect springboard for deeper discussion about our world and the environment,” he says. 

An expansive team of puppeteers, musicians, writers and designers have been working through the numerous pandemic challenges for months in the lead up to the anniversary.

The One Who Planted Trees will run from September 25 to October 9, and tickets can be purchased online at http://www.sppt. or by calling 9335 5044. 

Guests will have the opportunity to be a part of behind-the-scenes tours and to speak to the artists behind some of the theatre’s most loved puppets at the ‘Puppet-Tea’ event. Starting on September 7, guests will be treated to all these activities all while enjoying a cup of tea provided by the theatre.

Mr Mitchell says the event is a great opportunity for mature aged guests to celebrate the anniversary. “It is amazing to see that we now have people in our audiences that first came to Spare Parts as a child or parent and are now bringing their own children and grandchildren to see a show,” he says. 

Finally on November 6, the theatre will host a huge Puppets in the Park birthday celebration of music, performances and plenty of puppets! 

Mr Mitchell says the festival will be a way of “saying thank you to all our artists, audiences and supporters over the last 40 years”.

The festival will feature Wonder, a specially created show by WAAPA’s third year performing arts students, featuring the most-loved puppets from the past 40 years. 

The theatre’s birthday celebrations haven’t been without the odd hiccup; it had requested $30,000 in funding from Fremantle council, but that got trimmed back to just $5000.

Mr Mitchell says he is disappointed but grateful for the money they received.

“If the funds were available, I am sure the council would support many worthy arts organisations including Spare Parts Puppet Theatre,” he says, noting the number of other organisations that have disappeared over the last decade. 

“The role of the arts in bringing joy, community cohesion and empathy cannot be under-estimated or undervalued,” he says. 

Deputy mayor Andrew Sullivan says the council appreciates Spare Parts and its contribution to the community. 

“The funding is allocated according to what will deliver the best outcome for ratepayers and residents,” he says. 

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