Making magic happen

It has been raining heavily outside for days and days now. Dreamer has been playing inside the bedroom but longs for more adventures and a friend to share them with. When the rain eases, a glorious rainbow appears, from which a Rainbow Tiger emerges…

Puppeteer Richard Hart reveals his magic to the children after the show

It sounds like a marvellous bedtime story, but it’s a Tuesday morning in May at St Kilda Road’s Junior School Campus and the three- and four-year-olds from the Hutch are sitting in total darkness in their movement and drama room, absorbed in a remarkable puppet show.

With no dialogue and set to an immersive soundscape, the story is told visually. Using black light and fluoro-painted sets and puppets, the Dream Puppet show is a mesmerising glow of vivid, riotous colour, and the children are transfixed by the magical and convincing illusions.

‘The story is one of hope, imagination and friendship during challenging times,’ says creator and puppeteer, Richard Hart. A gifted artist who has designed and made all the sets, props and puppets, he calls puppet shows ‘the theatre of the impossible’.

‘Puppet shows give you the freedom to just do anything – there’s no limit to the imagination,’ he says. ‘It’s a very intimate theatre experience; because it’s small scale, you can do what’s impossible on a larger scale.’

For Dance and Drama teacher Caroline Bechervaise, the show offers the children something increasingly rare: a real-life theatrical experience.

‘This is one person working really hard behind a stage to make magic happen for the children,’ she says, ‘and then giving them the opportunity to have the magic revealed to them afterward.’

As four-year-old Lucy Shelmerdine exclaimed after the show, ‘How can one person with two hands do all that?!’

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