Founded in 1977 by artistic director Ken Evans, with a group comprising Andrew Hansen, Helen Rickards, Maeve Vella, Peter J. Wilson and Christine Woodcock, Handspan was developed as a professional, experimental and mainly adult puppet company. It was dissolved in 2002. Minimising dialogue, its visual effects drew on fantasy and metaphor, influenced by Japanese bunraku puppetry and Czech 'black theatre' effects, with black-clad puppeteers invisible on a blacked-out stage. Puppeteers were sometimes visible on stage with their puppets, and performances were developed with conventional actors and opera singers in mixed-media productions, as well as Aboriginal and disabled performers. The company toured extensively around Australia and overseas, and was probably Australia's best-known and most highly regarded puppet theatre for its 25-year history.