Dead Puppet Society’s David Morton chats Collection and Activation

Known for their stunning and innovative work, Dead Puppet Society are one of Australia’s most groundbreaking production houses.

Their amazing modernisation of the ‘classic’ puppet form has changed the theatre space, with past credits including Laser Beak Man (Aus Tour), Storm Boy (MTC/Queensland Theatre), The Wider Earth (Sydney Opera House; Natural History Museum, London), and The Riddle of Washpool Gully (with Terrapin Puppet Theatre).

David Morton

The company have just launched Collection and Activationtwo new expansions to their existing oeuvre. Collection features a range of original sculptures inspired by the natural world made from semi-precious metals; and Activation focuses on laser-cut artefacts or open-air performances such as installations. Both are available for commissions and booking by contacting DPS directly.

David is the Creative Director of the Dead Puppet Society, as well as a freelance designer and director. He obtained a PhD in Puppetry and Visual Theatre and a Bachelor of Creative Industries (Drama) both from QUT. David has constructed puppets for the Queensland Theatre Company, La Boite Theatre Company, QPAC, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane City Council, amongst many others.

Could you tell me a bit about your role with the company?

The way that DPS works is highly collaborative and there’s heaps of give and take between our areas of focus. Nick is the Executive Producer and oversees the working of the company, he’s also the lead in discussions with partners in securing new projects, and then scopes and supervises the delivery. I am the Creative Director, and am mostly responsible for leading on the creative side of our projects, from story, through design, and managing the team of creatives who bring the shared vision to life.

Photo by Christian Tiger from Compadre Picture Co

What has been the most interesting part of launching Collection and Activation?

The most interesting part of launching Collection and Activation has been seeing the sculptures that we’ve been making for over a decade now being showcased in such different contexts. We’ve honed our method of using CAD to design creatures, which are then laser-cut and assembled, over the course of years and having the opportunity to display these creations in the public realm, rather than just in a theatre space has been super rewarding. It’s also been a treat to see our sculptures coming together in different materials; for the puppets used in theatre we normally use aluminium and wood, but now we’re moving into semiprecious metals like brass and copper.

And what about the most challenging?

For our in-theatre work there’s always a team around to look after the objects and making sure that they look their absolute best. The biggest challenge in reconfiguring our creations for Collection and Activation has been thinking about the longevity of the objects when they’ve been gone from our workshop for months and even years, and what we can do in the design and fabrication process to make sure they age beautifully.

Photo by Christian Tiger from Compadre Picture Co

How does this mark a new direction for Dead Puppet Society?

I wouldn’t say it’s a new direction so much as a diversification. Our core business is still visual theatre, and using all of the means at our disposal to tell original stories in a compelling way. Collection and Activation now provides us with an opportunity for some of the heroes of these stories to make their way into the public realm, into businesses, and into people’s homes.

What does the future of Collection and Activation look like?

We are already working alongside a fantastic group of partners and clients to dream up what the next outings for Activation are going to be over the coming years and will be growing the scope of the program. For Collection, we’ve already built our first round of sculptures in brass and copper, and over the coming months will be working through our back catalogue of designs to realise past creatures in this new forms, as well as creating a number of one of a kind commissions for private collectors. As a small, independent company, we’re hoping that these new initiatives provide a pathway to securing the future of Dead Puppet Society.


For more information, please check out www.deadpuppetsociety.com

Gabi Bergman

Gabi Bergman is a Melbourne-based performer. She holds a Double Arts degree in Theatre Studies and Film/Screen Studies and a Master of Teaching (Secondary Education). Gabi has always been an avid lover of theatre, specifically musicals, and spends way too much money than she’d like to admit on tickets. Her most prized possession is her crate of theatre programs.

Gabi Bergman

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