A brilliant and lateral mind – Tap Dogs remember Nigel Triffitt

On July 20, the industry was shocked and saddened to hear that accomplished director and designer Nigel Triffitt had passed away in his Melbourne home at the age of 62.

Tap Dogs
Tap Dogs

A leader in Australian visual theatre, Triffitt is perhaps best known for being the designing mind behind Tap Dogs — a show that is now essentially a cultural institution.  Triffitt’s intricate set defined the show by providing the performers with an arena for their talents.

Liz Koops and Garry McQuinn from Back Row Productions, whose first and most successful production was Tap Dogs, have remembered Nigel Triffitt in a public statement released last Thursday.

“Nigel had a brilliant and lateral mind; by the time we met he had built a career as devisor, designer, and director of an eclectic range of shows and a unique fusion of art forms. He may be remembered best for Tap Dogs, but that’s a little unfair given his lifelong contributions to visual theatre, puppetry, dance, grand opera, rock ‘n roll and grand spectacle.

“Nigel enjoyed his role as eminence terrible, with great and often-impudent good humour he revelled in his latter day renegade status. With a mature equanimity born of the security that success finally brought him, Nigel was graciously confrontational, diplomatically indelicate, and seriously witty.

“We have been privileged to work with Nigel, and will greatly miss our friend and colleage.”

Director and choreographer Dein Perry too released a statement in memoriam of Triffitt. He said, “I am deeply saddened by the passing of Nigel Triffitt.

“In 1994 my agent introduced me to Nigel. At the time all I knew of Nigel was that he had an impressive track record as a designer, devisor, and director of his own shows. After explaining Tap Dogs, Nigel delivered a model of the set to me and I was both excited and nervous of what I could create and could I live up to the expectations of his design. We collaborated hard in those early days and Nigel taught me many things about staging.

“Thank you Nigel for your guidance and confidence that you instilled in me that will last forever. Condolences to Nigel’s family and from all the Dogs old and new.”

Tap Dogs, Triffitt’s vibrant legacy, is currently touring Australia.


Cassie is a theatre critic and arts writer in Sydney. She studied communication and media at the University of Newcastle, where she began honing her professional writing and critical analysis skills, as well as publishing creative works in several journals and magazines. She has previously reviewed music and theatre for numerous online hubs including LiveGuide, BroadwayWorld Australia, and Time Out Sydney. Cassie can usually be found in a theatre foyer somewhere soaking up the atmosphere.

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