The DARKER side of Puppetry 

What dark secrets do our puppet friends hide from us?
...and where do they go once they are out of the box? 

By taking a fresh look at the context, narrative and physical handling of a puppet, we can challenge the traditions in which we normally perform with it. By believing, not believing and sometimes rejecting the puppet completely, we start to see a more fragile and symbiotic relationship form between puppet and performer. By using this alternative approach to contemporary puppetry, we can develop these metaphoric and sometimes psychological ideas to create some very surprising and moving theatre.

As a starting point we will work with some fairly traditional puppetry techniques. Then by twisting these rules we will begin to look at how we can evoke empathy and emotion by the way we treat them.

How do THEY feel when they are squeezed, dropped or ignored?

By looking at the different approaches to carrying, separation and abandonment we will watch as the bond between the puppet and the performer begins to crack, break and is finally repaired. 

We will examine our relationship with different puppet characters - archetypes, alter ego, imaginary friend and the DARKER worlds of the imposter, the phantom or spirit, the effigy and the talisman. 

‘Beautiful, tender although sometimes slightly disturbing’

This laboratory will be a safe and fun space for experimentation and an opportunity to really dive deep into these alternative performance methods. We will do group and individual improvisations, exercises and movement. We will share what we have discovered during the work and importantly we will discuss how this form of puppetry could be integrated dramaturgically into any form of theatre.

Duration: 1 to 5 days
Capacity: maximum 12 people

No puppetry experience necessary!
Suitable for any curious theatre creative: actor, dancer, clown, puppeteer, writer, director.

Special thanks to Anne-Kathrin Klatt for original research and development


Ninon Noiret exploring the DARKER side of Puppetry for her show The Raft of the Crab. Glasgow 2021 


Max has been kicked, shoved, stripped and dropped... 


Royal Conservatoire Scotland -  dance/movement improvisation


Following clues in a DARKER side installation piece - Atelier Libusin. Prague


NASTY puppetry workshop - UQàM Montreal 2020 


Bochum figurentheater Germany - dance/movement improvisation


Following clues in another DARKER side installation piece - Atelier Libusin. Prague

Quotes from previous workshop participants:

Liverpool 2022

"As a complete beginner in 'proper' puppetry, the workshop has been extremely valuable."

"Gavin's experience and insights have been fab and I feel I've come miles in an area that previously felt out of reach.
My confidence has really grown"

"Gavin's teaching style was relaxed and playful but backed up by a wealth of experience"

Atelier Libusin, Prague. CZ

"As a maker rather than a performer, I found that performing with the puppets while the others watched was a bit daunting at first. But although we were exploring ‘the darker side’ of puppetry the atmosphere in the group was so warm, supportive and friendly that my inhibitions quickly melted away"

"One of the best workshops I attended"



Open for invitations

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