Our History

Australia’s Flagship Puppetry Company since 1981

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre was formed in 1981 by Artistic Director Peter L. Wilson, together with writer Cathryn Robinson and designer Beverly Campbell Jackson, to share the magic of puppetry in Western Australia.

From the onset, Peter brought an international flavour to Spare Parts. He studied theatre and puppetry with the Pule Theatre in Tokyo, the Bunraku Theatre, National Theatre of Japan, the Central Puppet Theatres of Prague and Moscow, and Cannon Hill Puppet Theatre in the UK.

The company’s first production Faust was presented as part of the 1981 Festival of Perth (now Perth International Arts Festival) and was billed as a “total visual experience”. The work was directed by Peter and developed with Japanese artists Noriko Nishimoto and Takeshi Hoshino.

The significance of bringing Noriko to Australia for Faust in 1981 cannot be understated. Noriko saw something special in Spare Parts and chose to remain with the company to share her knowledge and expertise with emerging artists. Noriko was with the company until her death in 2016 and was instrumental to training, the nurturing and the development of Western Australia’s puppetry artists and sector.

In 1987 Spare Parts built its current venue in Short Street, Fremantle. The venue has a 190-seat theatre, a rehearsal studio, office and storage space.

From 1997 – 2001 Spare Parts was under the artistic direction of Noriko Nishimoto.

036 SPPT Workshop 150812 Jessica Wyld

The company is now led by an outstanding artistic team in our award-winning Artistic Director Philip Mitchell and Associate Director Michael Barlow.

Philip possesses a diverse skill base in voice, movement, physical theatre and contemporary dance. He is considered to be one of Australia’s leading puppetry artists. For Spare Parts, Philip has devised and directed over twenty new works including The Arrival, The Velveteen Rabbit and the award winning H20 (designed for Olympic swimming pools) for the Perth International Arts Festival.

Having worked with Spare Parts for 23 years, Michael Barlow is one of Australia’s leading writers and performers for puppetry.

In 2006 Spare Parts was successful in its bid to host the 2008 20th UNIMA World Puppetry Festival and Congress – the Olympics of puppetry. Hosting the Festival and Congress offered Spare Parts great exposure internationally, building upon its exposure from international touring to China, USA, Korea, Singapore, Japan, Czech Republic and most recently in France.

In 2015 Spare Parts were awarded the Fremantle Business Awards ‘Business of the Year’ and in 2015 and 2016 won ‘Outstanding Cultural Enterprise’ Awards, recognising our contribution the business community of and to the cultural vibrancy of Fremantle and surrounds.


To have a look at our special publication about the company, click here.