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Age-old stories brought to life through legendary puppets

What has been the impact on the community of Newcastle?

It’s very difficult to express just how important this event was for the local Worimi community. It made such a lasting impact. When I saw people around town, even months later, they told me how much they loved it. Many of the local mob still ask me “Hey Puppet,” (my local name) “when are we doing Gimbay Gatigaan again?”

One moment that stuck with me happened on the second night as we were closing the show. We helped a woman get to the train after the show who told us she had travelled three hours by train from Sydney to meet her children (who were in the care of the State) and bring them to the performance. She was proud of being Aboriginal, and chose this show – created with local community – to share with them what that meant.

The giant illuminated puppets lit up the night and brought everyone together to engage in the performance. Auntie Debbie told a personal story about the Pelican Spirit. Its white and black feathers to her symbolise white and Aboriginal people coming together as one. Then Auntie Tammy taught participants the Pelican dance, so at the very end of the night the whole audience danced as the pelican flew overhead. It was very moving and uplifting to have her words come alive like that.

Our other outdoor performances always bring people together for a memorable and engaging community spectacle of colour, movement, curiosity and fun. Recently Fever Dream debuted in Port Macquarie then travelled to Perth. While back home in Newcastle, we have performed Menagerie, Wallsend Frights – engaging 2000 people on Halloween, and Illuminate – a mid-winter community festival created in partnership with Newcastle BIA. Our interactive, family-friendly performances and workshops specifically engage young people in regional NSW and Western Sydney.

What is the biggest strength of Curious Legends?

The team continues to dream big, and imagine things never done before. We are very flexible and fluid so can move quickly to bring these big ideas to life. We trade in creative capital and we need to harness the creative energy when it takes flight. We recently brought on a Creative Producer, Elli Eckersley-Gilmour and her ideas are already taking shape and building momentum with a new production called Whale Song. Future plans for this show involve creating a pod of illuminated Whales to travel along the East Coast of NSW and beyond.  

What did the funding from Create NSW enable Curious Legends to do?  

The ACFP Annual Funding has made a huge impact on our capacity for growth. We began as a two-person partnership, and now we are an incorporated not-for-profit company with a Board, and over 20 artists and staff in the team.

The funding has given us greater stability and security, giving us confidence to expand and take on bigger challenges. It means we can pay all the overheads and focus on the ideas and looking after our people. We’ve always made sure our artists receive a living wage. This in turn means artists are keen to work with us, so we have the capacity we need to deliver these large-scale projects. We have also taken on six interns for paid placements to help develop young talent in outdoor theatre, which is highly specialised. We also have a newly-minted Creative Producer to help take our unique brand of large-scale outdoor theatre and procession to the next level! 


More about Curious Legends

Curious Legends, based in Newcastle, is a theatre company that believes in the inherent wonder of the world around them. They aim to inspire kids and their adults to experience this through the magic of theatre. Their shows, workshops, and roving performances embrace laughter, magic, and the mysterious world of our imaginations.

Formed from humble beginnings in 2005, they have since grown their activities to encompass large-scale site-specific theatre, community cultural development, workshops, roving performances, and touring throughout Australia and overseas. While best known for their giant, illuminated puppets, their work encompasses a wide range of art forms. This includes multimedia, traditional theatre, and large-scale site-specific work. Gimbay Gatigaan – Curious Legends

Find out more about the Arts and Cultural Funding Program – Annual Organisational Funding and other funding opportunities with Create NSW.

https://www.nsw.gov.au/departments-and-agencies/create-nsw/news/stories/curious-legends-interview Age-old stories brought to life through legendary puppets

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