Travelling the world on string
When Anna Bailey left Kapiti College, she went to Europe as an au pair and returned a puppeteer.
She has travelled the world, performing in some of the biggest puppet festivals in France, Poland and China.
On her latest trip, she attended the UNIMA congress and World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu, China, featuring about 70 puppeteer companies.
She also performed in festivals in England, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, Bulgaria and Italy.
"We've got a puppetry scene [in New Zealand] but it's very small compared to overseas," Bailey said.
"[They have] lots of puppeteers, lots of street puppeteers, lots of puppet festivals and lots of shows that tour theatres and tour schools."
There are also many types of puppets, although Bailey prefers string and glove puppets.
She learnt to make and move her first marionette puppet from Chilean puppeteer Sergio Barrios, while staying in an Italian theatre in 2009.
"I went as an au pair in Italy and while I was there I went with those kids. . . to see a puppet show. It was the first puppet show I ever saw and it was really amazing."
As Bailey was leaving the theatre, she told puppet master Damiano Privitera how much she enjoyed the show and would love to see more. But the show was the last for that season, and Bailey was due to leave Italy in three weeks.
"They said 'well you can come and live with us', and so I said 'OK' and I slept in the room above the theatre."
Bailey spent eight months with the family, helping with the regular weekly programme and travelled with the group to the International Puppetry Festival, Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionnettes in Charleville, Mezieres.
In return she sewed curtains and costumes, cleaned and looked after the puppeteers' children.
She also had unlimited access to the library of texts about puppet theatre and after hours access to the puppets.
After eight months she came back to New Zealand, but was still hooked on puppets, so returned to Europe last year to busk in the Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionnettes.
There she met puppeteers who travel to puppet festivals and busk each summer, and decided she would do the same. The last six months she has travelled to nine different countries throughout China and Europe.
Arriving home last week, she plans to busk and perform in Kapiti this summer, to raise money to attend puppetry festivals in Thailand, Turkey and Korea in January and March.