In 2011 Black Hole initiated the first in its ongoing series of Puppet Slams.  A typical evening consists of 8-10 short performances all centred on a given theme. The works may be improvised, taken from an established piece, or presented as a fragment of something new. The aim is to provide puppeteers with the opportunity to lift their profile, show their work and try out new ideas in non-theatre spaces such as pubs and cafes.

Puppeteers are encouraged to take risks. Equally, the Slams introduce audiences to adult puppetry in a way that is innovative, relaxed and engaging. Audiences light the performances themselves with LED torches. There is always food, live music, and beverages. While the food and grog are not usually free, the ticket prices are low. The performers have been locals, from interstate, and visiting international artists.


WHEN: 9.30pm, Saturday 8th July 2017

The world is in turmoil. Around the globe, we face immense political decisions as societies tear themselves apart seeking solutions to their problems. In recent times, the refugee crisis has worsened, Australia has a new government (with the same faces), the US have chosen Trump as their next president, Britain has a new prime minister, Brazil’s latest President is accused of taking bribes from the former impeached President, France’s Marine Le Pen will be rallying her far right forces ahead of the 2017 elections, the Brexit fallout will continue to divide the United Kingdom, and climate change will have wrought more devastation. How do these things affect you? How do we respond to any of the above – or to the hundreds of things not on the list?

If votes and social media are not enough, Black Hole invites you to a night of new puppetry work that will talk about grief, rage, hope, passion, and a changing future.

Bookings will open soon.


Captured Whispers

WHEN: 5pm, Sunday 17th May 2015
WHERE: 1000£ Bend Gallery, 361 Lt Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 3000

Black Hole Theatre’s latest Puppet Slam brings poets and puppeteers together for an unforgettable evening. Black Hole Theatre invited selected poets and puppeteers to create 5 new short works that delve into memories, swing from anomalies, encircle the present, and evoke images of new horizons. In this Slam contemporary poets are mingling their texts with the robust imaginations of puppeteers.

The audience was given torches to illuminate each performance, poetry was performed on the bar, along the tables, and at your elbows. Intimate and interactive performances took place throughout the space, an atmospheric room above 1000£ Bend Cafe & Gallery nestled in Melbourne”s famous laneways, and accessible by stairway only.

Featuring works by poet Andy Jackson & Rachael Guy, poet Terence Jaensch & Eliza-Jane Gilchrist, poet Barry Dickins & Rod Primrose, poet Jennifer Harrison & Victoria Osborne, and poet Lia Incognita with the indirect Object.


Where the Wild Things Sing

WHEN: 31st January, 20th & 21st February 2015
WHERE: An urban safari through the streets of Southbank, Melbourne 3000

Presented by Black Hole Theatre in association with SummerSalt Festival

Opera and puppetry collide in the streets of Southbank!

As part of the inaugural SummerSalt Outdoor Arts Festival Black Hole Theatre presented our most ambitious Puppet Slam to date. Led by raconteur Bernard Caleo, participants were guided through the streets of Southbank to intimate performances nestled in laneways, hidden around corners, and creeping up on you from behind. Joined by a crack team of classical musicians and opera singers, breathtaking puppetry pieces brought surreal visuals where ants crawled up walls, jellyfish danced in the air and shadowy worlds were illuminated underwater.

Performed by: Megan Cameron, Rod Primrose, Lynne Kent, Jeany Lee, Jhess Knight, the indirect Object, and Barking Spider Visual Theatre. Opera singers Belinda Dalton (soprano), Oliver Mann (baritone), Frederica Cunningham (mezzo) perform with musicians Dave Evans (accordion) and Jenny Thomas (violin).

FRACAS Design Postcard FINAL 100dpi


WHEN: 2015
WHERE: Delmar Gallery, Sydney

Presented by Black Hole Theatre & Delmar Gallery

Our first Puppet Slam in Sydney, Fracas was an evening of puppet disorder at the Delmar Gallery featuring the talents of John Cervenka, Ivan Chew, Kristen Clerke, Sabrina D’Angelo, Anton Johanssen, Shanti Moffat, Alison Richards, Ben Veenkamp, Sue Wallace, Kay Yasugi and returning MC extraordinaire Bernard Caleo.

Fracas! was another in our series of inspired puppet slams, where we give artists from various practises an opportunity to collaborate with one another, share ideas, and spread the good oil. In this case, contemporary poets are mingling their texts with the robust imaginations of puppeteers.

Anything can happen!



WHEN: 8.30pm, Saturday 8th March 2014
WHERE: Football Club, Francis Street, Maldon, Victoria

Presented in association with the Maldon Puppetry Festival

Ambush featured performances by artists from Melbourne, Sydney, Castlemaine, Adelaide and New Zealand!  In all their glory they were – in no particular order – Rod Primrose, Alison Richards, Beth McMahon and Mike Bevitt, Joe Blanck, Eliza Jane Gilchrist and Mark Penzak, Anna Bailey, Keith Preston, Gemma Lark, and Richard Hart & Julia Davis!  The delightful Bernard Caleo once again was our MC, and live music was provided by Dandelion Jackson on a variety of instruments.  We presented it at the Maldon Football Club, and it was a sellout success!

Colleen Burke Aria


WHEN: 7th & 8th November 2014
WHERE: Northcote Town Hall as part of Darebin’s Speakeasy

Supported by Darebin City Council and UNIMA Australia.

ARIA! surpassed our highest expectations… Sold out shows, audience delight, wonderful performances from puppeteers and opera singers.  ARIA! combined a variety of puppetry forms in a range of original new works created in response to an aria or a duet – performed live in the Northcote Town Hall.

The Town Hall didn’t rock so much as explode with sound and energy!  We blended wonderful opera singers with a stunning line up of puppetry that delighted audiences and ourselves alike!  The performances included rod puppets, glove, shadow, a film, and objects.

Thank you to all the fantastic participants – Megan Cameron, Barking Spider Theatre Company, Rod Primrose, the indirect Object, Lynne Kent, Colleen Burke, Lenka Muchova, Theresa O’Connor and singers Frederica Cunningham, Belinda Dalton, Timothy Reynolds and Jeremy Kleeman.   And of course to the wonderful Bernard Caleo as MC, and the virtuoso musician Dave Evans on both the accordion and piano.  What a night!!

Puppet Slam Image 2.4

How I Wish the Wish I Wish

WHEN: Saturday, 23rd March 2013
WHERE: Market Hall, Castlemaine, Victoria

Presented in association with the Castlemaine State Festival

How I Wish the Wish I Wish was based around the songs of Jacques Brel, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Wonderful lyricists! The lineup of artists included the Belgian Stephane Georis, Annie Forbes, Tim Denton, Michelle Heaven, Rachael Wenona Guy, the indirect Object, Ken Evans and Rebecca Russell, Lachlan Plain, Alison Richards and Eliza Jane Gilchrist and Mark Penzak. The MC was the wonderful Dan Oldaker, with music direction from Cerise Howard and live music from Dirty Nicola and the Spud Hussies.

Lady Luck

WHEN: Friday, 13th April 2012
WHERE: Nosh Cafe, in Newport, Victoria

Sock Hop

WHEN: 11 March 2012
WHERE: Uniting Church Hall,  Maldon as part of the Tarrengower Puppet Festival.

Entitled Sock Hop, this event was based on the idea of “dance” – which was interpreted by the puppeteers in many and varied ways!

Slam Noir

WHEN: 14 November 2011
WHERE: St Ali’s Cafe in South Melbourne

All images and text © Black Hole Theatre