Pup­peteer clowns around

Wanneroo Times - - Front Page - Tanya MacNaughton

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. “I came in to pup­petry quite late,” he said. “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”. He started Bunk Pup­pets four years ago, cre­at­ing an as­so­ci­a­tion of free­lance per­form­ers, mak­ers and artists, and will bring his one-man show Swamp Juice to Awe­some In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val for Bright Young Things in Oc­to­ber.

“Swamp Juice is very much this live car­toon aes­thetic, so we have this very sim­ple plot of a man in a swamp en­coun­ter­ing all these crea­tures,” Achtem said.

“I don’t want to give too much away, but it spi­rals out of con­trol and be­comes this big ca­coph­ony of char­ac­ters chas­ing af­ter him. It’s not Mac­beth, it’s not a plot-driven piece, but more about the sim­plic­ity and beauty of us­ing very sim­ple ob­jects to make these char­ac­ters re­ally come alive and in­ter­act in the swamp. And just when the ac­tion is peak­ing, ev­ery­one gets glasses and it goes in to 3D.”

Achtem said the show was suit­able for au­di­ences seven years.

Jeff Achtem.

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