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Dead Puppet Society tour supports live performance and employment

New company manager role for Ishmael tour helps to address skills gap 



Dead Puppet Society’s ground-breaking production of Ishmael wowed audiences in Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville in 2023, following its world premiere for the 2021 Brisbane Festival. In a reimagining of the classic novel Moby Dick, Ishmael featured miniature sets and scenic elements and used live feed technology to create a touring work that is theatrical and filmic. 

Dead Puppet Society received touring funding to support the Ishmael tour along with Industry Placement funding to support the employment of Jodie Roche-Jones as company manager.

Industry placements, a new initiative introduced by Arts Queensland as part of Grow 2022 – 2026, are integrated across arts funding programs to address skills gaps and to expand the scale and capacity of the creative workforce ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Dead Puppet Society guided Jodie Roche-Jones to build upon her existing stage manager skills and develop her career as a company manager to assist with the delivery of Ishmael along with other company activity. The company manager role includes appointing staff and creatives, generating employment contracts and arranging all touring logistics including booking travel and accommodation.

For the tour, Dead Puppet Society connected with local artists, families and teachers on a broader program of engagement around the production. Activities included workshops on live filmmaking and puppetry specifically for emerging artists, taking them through storyboarding exercises and how the technology is used to bring Ishmael to life.

The Ishmael script was commissioned by Dead Puppet Society, and the production was commissioned by Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Dead Puppet Society and Brisbane Festival in association with Screen Queensland.



When and where

Ishmael was presented from April to September 2023 in Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville.


Key stats

  • 1 world premiere
  • The world premiere season with QPAC for Brisbane Festival in September 2021 sold 3500+ tickets 
  • Employed new role of Company Manager
  • 13 artists involved (cast and crew) with a touring company of 7
  • 26 performances
  • 2732 attendees across Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville 
  • 3 regional workshops delivered
  • 1 professional development program for industry professionals, technicians and theatre makers delivered


Arts Queensland investment 

Touring Queensland Fund – Round 1a January 2023. Dead Puppet Society received funding of $76,288 plus $60,000 Industry Placement for the tour of Ishmael to Bundaberg, Cairns and Townsville.   

The Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland, supports Dead Puppet Society with funding of $960,000 through the Organisations Fund 2022 – 2025. 




Build a strong and sustainable sector

  • The Company Manager worked directly with the Executive Producer to develop skills and undertake new tasks.


Share our stories and celebrate our storytellers

  • A new work developed in Queensland 
  • Significant employment opportunities for Queensland artists
  • Prepare the production for international touring


Drive social change and strengthen communities

  • Build new audiences in existing and new regions 


Embrace Brisbane 2032 across Queensland

  • Expand the scale and capacity of the creative workforce ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games
  • Elevate Queensland’s international reputation for exceptional and unique arts experiences


Learnings and reflections

“Having a Company Manager has not only grown skills to transition Jodie from a Stage Manager into a qualified Company Manager, but given Dead Puppet Society much more capacity to be able to develop, plan and execute tours this year and into the future. We will look to continue to employ Jodie from 2024 and beyond. She's a fantastic asset to the team.

“We will continue to be flexible, balancing appropriate travel times and conditions for our touring party whilst also ensuring responsible financial decisions when confirming bookings are made. 

“Fostering strong presenter relationships in the lead-up to the tour, and ensuring the presenters are aware of DPS’ digital offerings will provide an opportunity to foster strong audience relationships prior to our arrival. 

“Building on the solid audience contacts we made during previous tours, we look forward to revisiting these locations as well as developing new relationships.' 



“I frickin’ loved this show.” – Courier Mail 

“A one-of-a-kind space odyssey.” – The Australian 

“An outstanding production, unlike anything else hitting the stage.” – Scenstr 

“A new kind of theatrical storytelling.” – Limelight 

“Digital technology in this performance took my imagination to new heights.”  Audience member

 “A cross between live performance and cinema… just incredible.” Audience member

“To watch the technology combine in front of your eyes is so clever and delightful. Everyone from my 10 year old daughter to my 65 year old father were thrilled to recall the moment they understood how the illusion was created.” Audience member


What next?

Provisional tour dates have been booked in Asia and the USA proving there is strong international interest in the production. 

Find out more

Dead Puppet Society website: