Trained at The Kansai Geijutsu–Za Performing Arts Academy in Japan, Noriko Nishimoto worked for 16 years as a performer, writer, and director at leading professional puppet company Clarte Puppet Theatre in Osaka.
In 1981, she was invited by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s founding Artistic Director Peter L. Wilson as a guest artist for the company’s production of Faust for the Festival of Perth.
In 1982, she joined the company as master puppeteer and technique master, funded by the Japan–Australia Foundation. During this time, she trained performers in the company and toured the eastern states, China, Korea, Japan, Canada, and USA – and conducted master classes in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Hobart, and Brisbane.
In 1987, Noriko became Associate Artistic Director of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, writing, adapting, devising, designing, and directing – as well as collaborative work with other companies including Two Dance Plus, Chrissie Parrot Dance Theatre, Black Swan Theatre Company in Perth, Terrapin Puppet Theatre in Hobart, Polyglot Puppet Theatre in Melbourne, and Drak Theatre in the Czech Republic.
In 1995 Noriko took a six month break from Spare Parts to work on an individual development project Miss Tanaka funded by the Australia Council for the Arts. During this period, she also worked as a freelance artist with Skylark Theatre in Canberra, Handspan Theatre and Polyglot Puppet Theatre in Melbourne.
In 1997 Noriko was appointed Artistic Director of Spare Parts. She set up the Company Associate Program to encourage individual artists and the School of Puppetry to allow company associates the opportunity to share their skills and knowledge in a recognized form. She developed national and international tours for Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s productions, explored cross art form collaborations, participated in creative partnerships and generally consolidated the company’s artistic reputation.
As Artistic Director, Noriko’s focus was to produce new productions to reﬂect Australian culture and she directed and produced a series of highly acclaimed productions that included: The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek, the smash hit The Bugalugs Bum Thief, Cat Balloon, The Deep, Eat the Moon and The Midnight Gang in collaboration with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra.
In July 2001, after 20 very successful years with the company, Noriko announced her resignation as Artistic Director to work as a freelance theatre director. She worked as puppetry creator for Mamu with Black Swan State Theatre Company, directed The Emperor’s Nightingale and conducted master classes with Capital E’s National Theatre for Children in New Zealand and was a creative consultant on many individual artists projects.
Major awards recognising Noriko’s work include Union Internationale de la Marionnette/Australia (2008), Union Internationale de la Marionnette Women’s Commission Award/ World (2012), Spare Parts Puppet Theatre – Honorary Life Member Award (2014) and Western Australian State Living Treasures Award (2015).
Sadly, Noriko passed away in May 2016 leaving behind a legion of fans and colleagues who were inspired by her work. We were honoured to have worked with such a talent and aim to continue to inspire others as much as she did through puppetry.
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre respectfully acknowledges the Whadjuk Noongar people as the traditional owners and custodians of the unceded land on which we work. As we tour our work across these vast lands, we pay our respect to all First Nations elders, past and present. We celebrate their continuing connection and contribution to culture, country and community, and thank all First Nations peoples for their wisdom in caring for the land, the sky, the rivers and the sea.