Skills Laboratories

Short intensive courses to inspire and engage cross-artform practice.


Coming up…


The Sum of the Whole

Explore the art of puppetry within the total-theatre process as multi-award winning puppeteer, maker, designer, and writer Neville Tranter introduces you to his unique theatrical world.

Participants will discover puppetry as a powerful theatrical device, exploring the relationship between puppet and puppeteer and how the use of space, text and sound can shape a dynamic and compelling performance experience.

Over five days, Neville will guide the group through exercises exploring:

▪ The role of puppeteer as performer
▪ Puppeteer and puppet relationship – who serves who?
▪ How the manipulation of the puppet affects the audience
▪ The “body language” of the puppet and that of the puppeteer
▪ Choreography, breath, and use of space

Throughout the masterclass, participants will work individually and in small groups to develop short scenes, building towards more complex work integrating space, text, and sound.

For professional and emerging puppeteers, theatre-makers, and all performing artists interested in exploring puppetry in performance. 

For more info…

Stuffed Puppet website

10am – 5pm
January 19th to 23rd
Melbourne Polytechnic
 144 High Street Prahran Victoria 3181 Australia

$600 Full / $400 Students




This lab is for the makers – for all those who want their puppets & objects to do the moves that your hands can’t create, but a trigger or mechanism could. Acclaimed maker and problem solver Tim Denton will show you how, as each of you builds a puppet from scratch. Discover how simple mechanisms can animate and characterise your puppet.

For puppeteers and makers, artists and sculptors who like to tinker.  Mechanics, too, for that matter!

For more info…

About Face Productions website

10am – 5pm
February 28th & March 1st
Melbourne Polytechnic
 144 High Street Prahran Victoria 3181 Australia

$250 Full / $125 Students




The Sound of it

How many times have we heard one person voicing multiple characters who all sound exactly alike? Or adult shows where the voices are infantile?  This lab will break apart stereotypes as you explore the development of character through the Voice. Whether using dialogue or sound, whether it’s abstract, stylised or realistic, your sources are the same: emotion, imagination, breath, rhythm and pitch – complex and fascinating. Reward yourself. Engage with internationally renowned voice teacher Rowena Balos to find out how nuanced and rich your performance can be.

Bring a puppet or an object, and a piece of text, a poem or a song.  We’ll give you others as well.  It’ll be an adventure!

For puppeteers, actors, dancers, voice over artists and any performers who want to use their voice.

Rowena Balos website

April 2015 Dates & Times coming soon!

$250 Full / $125 Students





By Request…


After successful sessions in 2014, these Skills Labs are available to travel interstate and regionally throughout 2015.

If you’re interested in hosting a Skills Lab for your company or venue, or work with a group of puppeteers or puppetry enthusiasts who would like a workshop in their town, please contact Black Hole Theatre Artistic Director Nancy Black:


Shifting Reality

Explore Projection in Performance with puppeteer / performer Lynne Kent

Be amazed as we delve into the dark arts of projection, puppetry and trick film techniques as part of Black Hole Theatre’s innovative Skills Laboratories program.

With the proliferation of screen and image on stage and in daily life, this workshop breaks down the process of crafting the projected image in theatrical space. Participants will explore when, why and how to shift from stage space to screen image and from the analog to the digital.

Learn fun ways to navigate and interact with the screen onstage, explore the possibilities of portable devices such as smartphones and tablets to create interactive live video feeds, and create layers of meaning by combining live performers with screen images. All will be revealed (unless concealed) as puppeteer / performer Lynne Kent and video artist Lisa Hilli take you through a series of exercises exploring simple technologies, film projection, and performing with screen-based images. The laboratory will culminate with each participant creating their own short performance.

For all performing artists, emerging and established, interested in visual media and performance.

Available throughout 2015.

Lynne Kent website


Set in Motion

Explore movement in performance and the puppetry arts while developing spatial and physical awareness. Examine the relationship between your body and the puppet. How do you characterise a puppet through its movement, and what challenges does that raise for its manipulation?

Set in Motion is presented by two extraordinary artists, dancer and choreographer Michelle Heaven and puppeteer Rod Primrose who will collaborate with you to develop skills that will increase the power of your performance.

Black Hole Theatre supplies a variety of puppets, but participants are encouraged to bring their own. 
Bring as well a scenario, text, poem or song with which to experiment.
For puppeteers, dancers, and all physical performers, emerging and established.

Designed for small groups, Set in Motion is perfect for small puppetry companies interested in skills and movement training.

Michelle Heaven & Rod Primrose CVs





Wish List…


Driving the Beats

After a sell out session in October 2014, Black Hole Theatre has their fingers crossed that Duda Paiva might return in 2016.

Cross disciplinary performance has become the new norm – and our skills need to expand to meet the richness of our imaginations! From October 9-12, as part of Fermenting Change, Black Hole Theatre offered a laboratory called Driving the Beats with renowned dancer and puppeteer Duda Paiva. Duda  performs throughout Europe and South America using a unique crossover between puppetry, dance and text.  As charismatic a teacher as he is performer, he works with dancers, physical performers and puppeteers, developing their ideas and images through the intersection of various forms.

About Driving the Beats

In this lab you will explore the link between movement, space, and the object. How impulses can move from the body to the object, into space and back again. How to modulate and characterise that journey through rhythm, shape, and texture. How to maintain separate identities while playing. How to use your musculature efficiently! Part skills enhancement, part research, you will investigate  Duda’s unique integration of dance and puppetry, an approach that blurs boundaries and creates powerful, dynamic performances.

A wonderful opportunity to expand and enrich your own practice – whether you’re a puppeteer, actor, circus artist or a dancer – emerging and established. Don’t miss it.

Duda Paiva Company





Fermenting Change is proudly supported by the Australia Council.