Pupperoos is performing at the Sydney Opera House

Kay Yasugi with Andy Griffiths (Author of “The 13-Storey Treehouse”) and puppet “Barky the Barking Dog” (puppet made by Kay Yasugi)

Puppeteer and puppet maker Kay Yasugi has been busy making puppets for CDP’s new show, The 13-Storey Treehouse, based on the best-selling children’s book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. The play has been adapted by award winning playwright and author Richard Tulloch and directed by Julian Louis. The show opened at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday 21st September, 2013.

Kay is also performing in the show as the puppeteer. She very much enjoyed the rehearsal process – helping to devise sea monster routines, making shadow puppets and props on the side (including a sizable pile of fake snot!), and figuring out the logistics of squashing a puppet dog with a giant gorilla foot (made by Marty Jay).

Andy Griffiths trying out an epic superhero pose with SUPERFINGER (puppet made by Kay Yasugi)

A highlight of this project for Kay has been creating a giant puppet called ‘SUPERFINGER‘ (designed by Mark Thompson). It was made out of foam and latex, and bends and straightens like a regular finger.

This may all sound a little bizarre, though anything is possible in a children’s theatre show set in a 13-Storey Treehouse! This place has everything, including a bowling alley, a secret underground laboratory, a lemonade fountain and a man-eating shark tank.

Andy and Terry live there, make stories together, and have a series of completely nutty adventures. The show begins with both characters bringing their stories to the stage in their first play – except they forgot to write it! Despite the dilemma of not having flying cats, a mermaid and an invasion of monkeys on hand, they do have some friends to help out, a box of costumes and props, some pretty awesome technology and a truckload of imagination!

The 13-Storey Treehouse previewed at the Chatswood Concourse and Seymour Centre. It is currently playing at The Sydney Opera House until 4th October 2013, with a return season during the January 2014 school holidays.


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War Horse Puppetry Workshop in Brisbane

Following the success of the ‘Creating Puppets for Plays’ workshops in Sydney for the War Horse Australia Arts Learning Programme, Kay Yasugi from Pupperoos was invited to run a puppet making workshop in Brisbane at Griffith University in July. The group learned how to work with cane and together they created a variety of beautiful and inventive puppets (one of which consisted of a cane horse head and blinking eyes made from black socks!). The puppets themselves were inspired by the monologue “Loyal Creatures”, written by Australian author Morris Gleitzman, which gives unique insight into how Australian soldiers and horses were involved in World War One.

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Puppetry Artist in Residence: Balinese Culture and Rod Puppetry

Earlier this year, Kay Yasugi from Pupperoos took part in a Puppetry Artist in Residence at Redlands School in Cremorne, Sydney.

It was part of the school’s unique enrichment program for students in Kindergarten-Grade Two, and over 10 weeks they explored Balinese Culture and Rod Puppetry. Kay very much enjoyed sharing what she had learned from her trip to Bali from her trip in January this year, and performing little puppet shows for the children using traditional Wayang Kulit shadow puppets and Wayang Golek rod puppets.

Kay worked with each class for 3 sessions, which included puppet shows, videos on Balinese puppetry, operating shadow puppets using an Interactive Whiteboard, games, playing musical instruments and making simple rod puppets.

Kay also worked with a small group of Grade 1 and 2 students over 10 weeks, where the students designed and constructed their own rod puppets and devised a little show which they performed for their parents and teachers on the last day of term. There were heroic princesses, a fire-breathing dragon, kimono-clad Japanese dancers, flamboyant peacocks, a comic man and dog duo and a skeleton pirate that played the guitar!

It was a truly wonderful experience of creativity and play. Kay looks forward to hopefully returning to the school next year.

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Puppet workshop at Shopfront Theatre for Young People

It was a joy for puppeteer Kay Yasugi to revisit  Shopfront Theatre for Young People in Carlton, Sydney and run a puppet workshop for their holiday program. The workshop was themed “Puppet Kingdom”, and the young participants aged 8-12 years old designed and constructed weird and wonderful puppet characters including a screaming female model, a mummified skeleton pig, a ghost-vanquishing security guard, and a cave man with an affinity to bongo drumming (which also happened to summon ghosts) and pet Scottish Highland cow. The 3 day workshop finished with a very imaginative and dynamic performance for family and friends.

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Teacher Workshops: Puppetry for Literacy and Creativity

Pupperoos has been busy this year running professional development workshops for teachers in Sydney.

Participants of the puppet workshop for Early Childhood teachers in Blacktown, Sydney

One workshop was for Pre-School Teachers, which focused on Puppetry for Early Childhood Language Development. Participants learned how to use puppetry to stimulate literacy and act as a springboard for other engaging learning experiences. The 2 ½ hour session was held at Blacktown Road Children’s Centre and hosted by First Connections, a partnership project of Children First and Mission Australia.

Photos from the Professional development workshop at Belmore South Public School

Another workshop was for primary school teachers at Belmore South Public School. The 2 hour workshop was focused on Puppetry for Literacy and Creativity.  The aim of the workshop was to help teachers to facilitate puppet making with their students and incorporate puppetry into their teaching.

The session included:

– An introduction to puppetry and its various forms

– Hands-on puppet making sessions using 2 different approaches (step-by-step demonstrations and self-guided problem solving)

– How puppetry links to the new Australian Curriculum

If you are interested in booking teacher training workshops with Pupperoos, please contact Kay at info@pupperoos.com


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Monkeying around for a good cause

Chee-Chee the Cheeky Monkey (and her ‘assistant’ Kay Yasugi) did a puppet show and workshop in July for a benefit concert in Kingsgrove, Sydney. Chee-Chee hosted the concert with Taryn Skye Douglas, who plays the host in Series 2 of the children’s television show, ‘The Amazing House’. The concert was put on to raise money for Taryn’s cousin who urgently needed funds for medical treatment overseas.

It was a fun day filled with puppetry, games, face painting, raffles and dancing. A big thank you to all the people who came on the day and supported this worthy cause!

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Puppetry for High School Students

In May this year, Pupperoos visited the Year 8 high school students at MET school in Oatlands, Sydney for a day of puppet making and performance. The experience was part of the students’ technology studies, where they were required to design and construct puppets and devise a show based on a fairy tale.

The day started with puppeteer Kay Yasugi performing her glove show “Bina the Butterfly” and demonstrating a variety of different puppets – rod, glove, marionette (string) and shadow. The students then took turns operating the puppet and performing for their peers.

During the making session, students created a wide range of puppets and characters using foam, socks, fabric, styrofoam, wool, glue, beads and buttons. The characters that emerged included Red Riding Hood, Little Miss Muffet (and Spider) and Humpty Dumpty. Other puppets took the form of dogs, queens, butterflies, skateboarders, ballerina twins, snowmen and an elephant.

At the end of the day, the students had come up with a very colourful cast of characters which are now destined for the puppet stage!

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War Horse Puppetry Workshops in Sydney

War Horse-inspired cane puppets of a horse head and duck on wheels (puppets made by Kay Yasugi)

Kay Yasugi from Pupperoos recently ran a workshop on ‘Creating Puppets For Plays‘ as part of the War Horse Australia Learning Programme at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. The participants were mainly young adults from the National Youth Theatre CompanyThe workshop was a practical and hands-on session of designing and making a puppet for use in the theatre. It was based on techniques employed by Handspring Puppet Company (the genius behind the puppetry in War Horse) including working with cane and paper. Over 2 hours, the group produced a variety of wonderfully inventive puppets including a snake, emu, walking boots and even the Grim Reaper! Kay is very much looking forward to running more workshops and seeing what other puppet characters emerge!

The workshop was part of a two day professional development masterclass, which also included a ‘Writing for the Stage‘ workshop (learning specific techniques required when creating an imaginative piece of writing for theatre) and ‘National Theatre Puppetry‘ workshop (exploring puppetry performance techniques used in the show and devising their own improvised scenes).  The sessions were inspired by a specially commissioned monologue written by celebrated children’s author Morris Gleitzman called ‘Loyal Creatures’, which gives unique insight into how Australian soldiers and horses were involved in World War One.

War Horse is currently showing in Sydney until 30th June 2013. For more information about the show, ticket bookings and to download educational resources, please visit http://warhorseonstage.com/

If your school is interested in booking an education workshop for the War Horse Australia Learning Programme, please contact Holly Limpkin at Global Creatures at holly.limpkin@global-creatures.com

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Easter Greetings from Pupperoos

Pupperoos would like to wish you a happy (belated) Easter! Chee-Chee the Monkey and Kay Yasugi had a great time visiting Christ Church St Ives (Sydney) on Easter Sunday. We hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Easter break (Chee-Chee spent most of hers eating chocolate bananas)!

If you would like Chee-Chee to visit your School, Pre-school or Church, contact Kay at info@pupperoos.com

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Shark Puppets Attack!

Pupperoos recently ran a series of exciting shark puppet workshops at Fowler Road School. The students have been learning about dangerous animals and by the end of the day, they had created a whole school of sharks, piranhas, dragons (and one pug dog)! Here is what one of the students wrote about his experience:

Yesterday we made hand puppets with Miss Kay from Pupperoos. We used foam balls for the eyes. We used short string for the mouth to make it open and shut. We used paper plates to make the fins. I coloured my shark red and purple. Making the eyes was my favourite part. I had fun making the puppet.

Here is what one of the teachers said about the workshop:

Thank you again for [the workshop]. It was great. All the teachers were very impressed and the kids absolutely loved it. My kids are still talking about how much fun it was.

– Bianca Mangano, Classroom Teacher

Fowler Road School is a special school for students with mental health and behavioural disorders. Fowler Road is intended as a short term intervention (approx. 12-18 months) that supports students from regular schools from across Metropolitan Sydney. For more information please visit www.fowlerroad-s.schools.nsw.edu.au

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