SPARE PARTS Puppet Theatre is back with a new program for younger kids and a season launch in the wings, though its main theatre in Freo remains closed and some shows will inevitably have to be staged elsewhere.
Puppet Playtime is something of a rarity for Spare Parts, being targeted at kids aged just three to five. Publicist John Michael Swinbank says they’ve tried to program for littlies before, but older siblings inevitably want to join in the fun.
Running from February to November, the sessions start with a reading of a popular kids’ book with accompanying puppets
(February’s is Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are) before participants get some hands-on activities and puppet-making.
Program director Bec Bradley said it was designed to encourage curiosity and imagination as well as a range of developmental, social and creative skills based on the lastest Telethon Kids Institute research.
“Puppet Playtime is designed to develop key skills in young children such as language and communication, fine motor skills and social-emotional intelligence,” Ms Bradley said.
The Institute and Healthways have heavily supported the initiative, Mr Swinbank said.
The program is being run at Spare Parts’ home on Short Street, with the admin area and the Creative Learning Centre not affected by a state government decision to close the main theatre in August over safety concerns.
Mr Swinbank said they were still in talks with the McGowan government about their future, and hoped an announcement might be as early as this month.
He says they’ve tried to keep puppeteers and support staff in employment through running activities in the functioning side of the building, but inevitably people lost work.
“Contracts were honoured and there was some support for that, but in terms of programming [artistic director Phil Mitchell] could not program ahead.”
Mr Swinbank revealed that Spare Parts learned about theatre being closed just as their show Beanstalk picked up Outstanding New Work at the Performing Arts WA Awards and was about to go on tour.
Covid had also impacted their touring schedule, which would take some time to build back up, but he was upbeat about the coming season, which will include a major performance with WA Symphony for the City of Perth in the first half of the year.
The first Puppet Playtime sessions are being held February 21 and 23, with sessions at 9.30am, 1pm and 3.30pm. Tickets are just $10 and in keeping with their “Nan and Pop’s Day Out” initiative, parents get in free.
Tickets can be booked online at http://www.sppt.asn.au or by calling 9335 5044.