720 ABC Publication: The Velveteen Rabbit reimagined for new children’s puppet show

When Margery Williams’ book The Velveteen Rabbit was published in 1922, she would have had little idea that almost a century later her characters would still be captivating the imagination of youngsters.

The tale follows the story of a toy rabbit and his quest to become “real” — a feat only achieved once he has been given enough love by the boy that owns him.

The book has inspired films such as the Toy Story franchise, as well as theatre productions.

Now the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle will once again bring the story to the stage and a new generation of young theatregoers will be given the opportunity to lose themselves in the politics of the toy box.

Philip Mitchell, the artistic director of Spare Parts and director of this new show, said that putting a puppet show together was very different from putting actors on the stage.

“We start with the puppets and characters and decide how we can bring them to life,” he said.

“The Velveteen Rabbit is told in a filmic way so there is panning and rostrums being pushed around, all this choreography that no-one sees.”

Permission to play

Jessica Harlond Kenny is one of the puppeteers. For her, the best part of the job is the element of play.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s reconnecting with your imagination. You never have to grow up,” she said of being a puppeteer.

Juggling several characters at once was not without its challenges, she said.

But out of the chaos, something new was often born.

“You often develop a new voice because you’ve slipped between two voices or two characters.

“You stumble across something new and a lot more interesting because of that.”

The Velveteen Rabbit will launch Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s 2017 program and runs from January 3 to 28.


Review by Lorraine Horsley 720 ABC Perth