Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre on Wheels

Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre, a puppet theatre based in Maitland, is fundraising to convert an old horsefloat into a portable puppet theatre. Their dream is to share their puppet plays with families across the Hunter Valley and further afield. ‘We want to take our fairy tale puppet plays up and down the Hunter’, said Theatre Manager Helen Hopcroft. ‘So far we’ve performed in Maitland, Newcastle, Kurri Kurri, Singleton and Cessnock, and last weekend we were at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. We’d really like to tour further afield and visit towns like Dungog, Murrurundi and Scone’.

The Frank’s team is currently crowdfunding with The Australian Cultural Fund (ACF) to make their dream a reality. Over 140 artists applied for a place on the ACF Crowdfunding Boost program, with only six successful applicants from NSW, and Frank’s one of the few winners from regional NSW. ‘If we can raise $2000 by the 30thJune, they’ll match this amount’ explained Hopcroft. The ACF was established by the Australian Government in 2003 to encourage donations to the Arts, and donations over $2 are tax deductible. If Frank’s campaign is successful, they’ll be taking their Theatre on the road from early next year.

‘The horsefloat was donated by Maitland artist Sue Cone’, said Hopcroft. ‘I’d wanted to find an old gypsy carriage and tour around with a spotted horse, but that wasn’t practical, so a horsefloat was the next best thing’.

Frank’s began when Hopcroft approached Frank Oakes and a group of actors from Maitland Repertory Theatre and asked if they were interested in starting a puppet theatre. The group began meeting in May, 2017, and launched their first play at the formal opening of the Toyriffic Store in Rutherford in September. Since then, they’ve played to enthusiastic audiences at the Olive Tree Markets; Watt Space Gallery; Create2308 (the University of Newcastle’s creativity festival); Rutherford, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock libraries; at private parties across the Hunter; and on the street as part of Maitland City Council’s Summer in Maitland program. During their initial planning stages, the group received a much needed boost when they received seed capital from the University of Newcastle’s Centre for 21stCentury Humanities.

The Theatre was recently invited to perform at the annual conference of The Australian Fairy Tale Society at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. They performed to an audience of about 50 people in the Garden’s Education Centre. Fairy Tale Society President, Louisa John-Krol, praised their performance: ‘Frank’s Fantastic Fairy Tale Theatre was truly a highlight of our day, and helped weave the kind of playful, quirky, mischievous, whimsical magic that leads seamlessly into storytelling’.

Link to crowdfunding campaign:

For further information contact Helen Hopcroft on hhopcroft(at)

Category: News
Region: Maitland
Artform: Theatre,

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