HE’S HAPPY CLOWNING
JEFF Achtem is more at home in a room of clowns than feeling any natural fraternity with a room of puppeteers, despite being the artistic director of Bunk Puppets.
“A lot of people when they think of shadow puppetry get these images in their head that maybe my mum or dad was a famous puppeteer or I grew up in Indonesia,” Achtem said.
“I came in to puppetry quite late. I started clowning as I left school and was performing a lot, in everything from street theatre festivals to corporate gigs, just finding and learning about performing non-verbally.
“A clown has to do something on stage, either juggle or play music or something, and it usually goes terribly wrong, which is the essence of a clown show; I was drawn to the idea of a clown doing a puppet show.”
Canadian Achtem moved to Australia a decade ago after he “gelled with Melbourne’s creative arts scene”.
“It was a period in my life where I just went where the wind blew me,” he said.
He started Bunk Puppets four years ago, creating an association of performers, makers and artists, and brings his one-man show
Swamp Juice to Awesome International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things in October.