1st Edition

Theatre-Rites Animating Puppets, Objects and Sites

By Liam Jarvis, Sue Buckmaster Copyright 2021
    234 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    234 Pages 45 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Theatre-Rites are regarded as pioneers in the field of object-led and site-specific performance, creating ground-breaking work for family audiences since 1995. This book marks the company’s 25th anniversary, offering the first in-depth exploration of artistic director Sue Buckmaster’s visionary practice, in which anything can be animated.

    This book draws on original research, including five years of in-depth interviews between its authors, images from Theatre-Rites’ archive and Buckmaster’s private collection, detailed observations from the company’s professional training workshops and personal reflections on past productions. A timely and compelling advocacy for the importance of high-quality experimental arts provision for young audiences is made, distilling learning from decades of the company’s professional activities to motivate and empower the next generation of object-led theatre-makers.

    Theatre-Rites: Animating Puppets, Objects and Sites is an invaluable resource for any puppeteer, actor, dancer, visual artist, poet or student interested in expanding their understanding of how to incorporate puppetry and/or symbolic objects as metaphors in their work.

    1 Introduction  2 The Birth of Theatre-Rites  3 Puppet Whispering and Object-led Play  4 Puppetry and Actors: The Extension of the Ego  5 Puppetry and Child Development: Making Child-friendly Performances  6 Dance and Puppetry: The Place for Abstraction  7 Site-specific Theatre for Families  8 Objects, Power and Personal Political Narratives  9 Puppetry and Death  10 Cross-artform Collaborations: Playing Across Artforms  11 Interdisciplinarity in Object-theatre: Playing Across Different Fields  12 Sue Buckmaster’s Theatrical Ancestry


    Liam Jarvis is a theatre-maker, director and practitioner–researcher. He is currently Co-Director of the Centre for Theatre Research (CTR) and a Senior Lecturer in Theatre in the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS) at the University of Essex.

    Sue Buckmaster is the artistic director of Theatre-Rites and the fifth generation of theatre practitioners in her family. She has many years of experience as a director, puppetry specialist and teacher, and has worked with a wide variety of companies including the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic, Sadler’s Wells, Three Sixty Entertainment, Akram Khan Company and Complicité.



    'This book promises to be a seminal work on the subversive art of puppetry and the essential work of theatre-making for children and families. The book explores the sophisticated thinking underpinning Sue Buckmaster’s approach and illuminates the mysteries of animating puppets and objects. Multiple insights and examples connect the theoretical with the practical processes of creativity, which are always guided by care and curiosity. It is indeed a "ceremonial object" as Theatre-Rites celebrates its 25th anniversary.'

    —Elizabeth Lynch MBE, chair of Theatre-Rites

    'A gift of a book. A celebration of 25 years of Theatre-Rites, one of the world’s most joyous and ingenious theatre companies, and a thought-provoking meditation on children, creativity and object-led theatre.'

    Lyn Gardner, theatre critic and associate editor of The Stage