ANNETTE DOWNSTo study puppetry - Japan, Spain, France
Originally I trained as a dancer, my career has always been in the performing arts. Work has ranged from teaching in universities, to being a performer, artistic director, general manager, and producer. Around the time of my fellowship I was the Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year. I’ve always enjoyed governance and past Board appointments include the Tasmanian Economic Development Board, Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board, the Playing Australia Committee, the Australia Council’s Theatre Board and the Theatre Royal Management Board.
Since 1996 I’ve been the Producer of Tasmanian Performs, an initiative focussed on supporting and developing an island’s art for a world’s audience.
A three month fellowship to study Puppetry in Japan, France and Spain.
I arrived in Tasmania in 1991 to work for a year as an actor and director with the then named Salamanca Theatre Company. At the end of that year’s contract I wanted to stay in Tasmania and secured a position as the Artistic Director of Terrapin Puppet Theatre. My fellowship was focussed on looking into the opportunities to develop a training program for puppeteers here in Tasmania, strategies to reduce the risk of injuries and future directions for the company in International touring.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
I made some wonderful connections with artists from all over the world during the three months and saw 100 performances over the 99 days. I came back inspired and informed about best practice approaches to Puppetry and reacted design. The chance to apply what I had learned was limited as I fell pregnant with twins and left my role at Terrapin in 1999 to focus on my children. However, the Churchill allowed me to bench mark the work of the company and it was most reassuring to know that in many ways Australia was at the forefront of innovations in the form. Possibly because we were less bound by any burden of classical styles or expectations of tradition, these things often seemed to sit like a weight on my European counterparts shoulders. All these years later Terrapin continues to thrive as an organisation with an enviable international touring schedule which has been developed over time by numerous Artistic Directors, artists, administrators and Board members who have taken on the role of progressing the art form and the Company.