Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Editorial Note

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Editorial Note

Article excerpt

The genesis of this special focus issue on Puppetry and Visual Theatre in Australia and New Zealand came from the First National Puppet and Animatronics Summit, held at the Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, in October 2002. To maintain the sense of momentum generated at the Summit among the diverse puppetry community, one of many motions passed at a final plenary session was that an approach be made to Australasian Drama Studies to propose a special issue at the first available opportunity. The then editor, Veronica Kelly, agreed and offered October 2007, and a call for papers duly went out. It is with a sense of great satisfaction that I and my Guest Editor and long-term collaborator Peter J. Wilson - who convened the Summit - have seen this issue take shape over the past two years. We imagined that opportunities to contribute to it would appeal as much to scholars as to practitioners and others associated with puppetry and visual theatre in our two countries and this has turned out to be the case. Five of the ten articles published here have come from practitioners, although it must be acknowledged that one of them, Richard Bradshaw, is nowadays as well known for his scholarly historical research as for his famous shadow puppets. Four more are by scholars in the field and the remaining contributor Jennifer Pfeiffer, a practitioner, administrator and now PhD student - defies all fixed boundaries.

This collection of essays, we believe, offers a remarkably diverse range of perspectives on the artform. It begins with two national surveys. Peter J. Wilson advances the optimistic view that, despite institutional losses in Australian puppetry over the late 1990s and early 2000s, there are distinct signs that the artform is set to flourish again in the future. Annie Forbes provides a short history of puppetry in New Zealand/Aoteoroa from before the earliest colonial days to the exciting recent developments in that country's thriving film industry, again affirming strong hopes for the future.

We then move into historical territory, beginning with Richard Bradshaw's vivid account of Thiodon's Wonders, a celebrated 'mechanical theatre' or 'theatre of arts' which toured widely in Australia after 1870. Nicole Anae delves further back, with her story of ventriloquists, machines and dummies - and some of the colonial transformations of Mr Punch - in the Australian colonies from the 1830s to the 1850s. …

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