Creative Spotlight | Kay Yasugi
Published on 08 June 2021
Tell us a bit about who you are and what kind of creative work you make
I’m a puppeteer, puppet maker and teacher. I trained at London School of Puppetry (UK). Now, I run workshops and perform shows with Pupperoos, focusing on education and children’s projects. I also do puppet commissions for film, television and theatre through Digital Seagull. I work in a variety of styles of puppetry including shadow theatre, rod puppetry, hand/glove puppets and marionettes (string puppets).
What’s your favourite part of working as an artist / creative?
There’s never a dull moment when it comes to puppetry, and you never know what’s coming next! I have created a myriad of puppets so far – including dogs, dragons, space monsters, singing candelabras and a flying egg. I’ve also played a koala, a cosmopolitan man in his mid-40s, a toddler, a monkey, a flying banana, a giant gorilla eye (and foot), and a ferret just to name a few.
What is a creative project that you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of? Why?
I recently worked on the ABC iview campaign, which was released in May 2021. With the assistance of Katherine Hannaford, I created two puppets that could change into four different characters - all designed in-house by ABC Made. They had dropping jaws, removable wigs/noses/eyes and could even play ping pong! We made them in such a short period of time and I’m very proud of the end result. Operating the puppets was a unique challenge, as I had to do stills, GIFS and film in a studio and on location (crouching behind milk crates in an alley; and lying under a park bench dressed in a fluro green screen suit!).
How does your personal history, culture or experience inform your creative work?
I’m half Korean and half Japanese, and moved to Australia when I was three. In 2019 I created ‘Haenyeo: Women of the Sea’ – a show about women divers in Jeju Island, Korea. I performed it with my mother Youngkyu Kwon. The show is about women, passing down traditions, and sharing our cultural heritage. I think it’s really important to have diverse stories and cultures represented in mainstream theatre.
What has been the highlight of your creative career so far?
Performing ‘Haenyeo: Women of the Sea’ at Figura Offida Festival in Italy was a real highlight. Some other highlights include performing in ‘The 13-Storey Treehouse’ at Sydney Opera House (based on the book by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton) and appearing on ABC’s Play School (‘Through the Window’ segments) for their puppetry episodes. In 2020 I was an artist for the Sydney Opera House Creative Leadership in Learning Program.
Do you have any top tips for emerging artists and creatives just starting out?
If you see any work you like, reach out to the artist or company and try to meet them or volunteer on a project.
For anyone interested in puppetry, I recommend joining UNIMA Australia - the official puppetry organisation of Australia.
Also check out the Talking Sock podcast about Aussie puppetry practitioners.
Where can we find out more about your work and get in touch?
Websites: www.pupperoos.com & www.digitalseagull.com