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An innovative specialist course in puppetry embracing three concepts of design, performance and theatre-making. Students develop specific puppetry making, manipulation and performance skills, but also work with designers and performance arts students to explore multi-disciplinary work in which puppets and animated forms perform alongside scenography, new writing, movement and experimental performance practices.
Central pioneered the first UK degree in puppet theatre and continues to be one of the world’s few institutions for training puppeteers. Students develop skills in design, manipulation, visual performance, animation, movement, voice, devising and collaborative theatre-making. The course works closely with professional practitioners and internationally recognised puppetry and visual theatre companies, and students benefit from a wide range of visiting lecturers and placements in theatres and with companies worldwide.
Practical research and development will be underpinned by contextual studies in puppetry and visual theatre performance, including historical and theoretical discussions, and intercultural study of traditional forms and practices.
You will be introduced to a range of collaborative and course-specific projects in order to explore puppet-making and animation processes, principles of movement, writing, making skills, voice work, acting and manipulation. You will engage with the application of manipulation skills to specific projects. You will create a performance in response to a text and develop installation, site-specific and immersive theatre in collaboration with other strands. You will also research into traditional puppetry forms and contemporary puppetry companies of note.
In collaboration with Performance Arts and Design for the Stage students and outside practitioners, you will work on experimental and speculative performance projects and the development of a puppetry production, which will tour nationally and possibly internationally. Where negotiated, you will also collaborate with Applied Theatre students, using puppetry in a community setting, such as working with the charity MIND, creating performance for elderly dementia sufferers, or assisting with a puppetry production created by prisoners. You will undertake research into different styles and practitioners such as Kantor, Meyerhold, Craig, symbolism and Dada.
You will negotiate personal development plans and carry out individual work to deepen learning in specific areas of interest. The personal development plan may be a professional placement with puppet theatre companies, working as an assistant director, in-school training in specific complementary areas, preparing solo work for performance, or an apprenticeship with makers.
Central collaborates with a large number of professional companies and practitioners, who visit as lecturers or host students on professional placements. The course works particularly closely with the Little Angel Theatre and the Puppet Centre Trust, and students participate in masterclasses at Suspense, the International Festival of Adult Puppet Theatre.
Puppetry, Design and Performance students also undertake placements with a range of companies such as the National Theatre, Polka Theatre, LittleAngel Theatre, Theatre Rites, Dockteatern Tittut in Stockholm, Edinburgh Puppet Company, Blind Summit, CBeebies, ITV and others. The course has excellent links with other related courses within the UK, and with international puppetry courses. Students normally take at least one production each year to a major international festival. Recent student work has been show at Tallinn Treff Festival, Bialystok International Puppet Festival, Stuttgart Puppet Festival, Istanbul International Puppet Festival, Indonesia International Puppet Festival, Ghent Street Theatre Festival and the Toy Theatre Festival in New York. Community collaborations undertaken include work with local and national healthcare providers, for example, hospitals and residential centres, schools and community centres.
Puppeteer: War Horse; Blind Summit/ENO collaboration; award-winning company Horse and Bamboo Theatre; Mongrels, BBC TV; youth projects for traumatised children in Iraq.
Performer: The Paper Cinema.
Puppet Maker: His Dark Materials, National Theatre.
Puppetry Education Assistant: Little Angel Theatre.
Workshop Facilitator: Theatre Royal Plymouth.
Community Workshop Leader: The Moveable Feast.
Puppetry Workshop Leader: Korea, Taiwan, Italy.
Puppetry Director: European youth project.
3 A Levels at BBC, BTEC ND: DDM.
Offers may vary from this, depending upon expected grades and performance at interview. Exceptional applicants who do not meet this requirement but demonstrate appropriate potential at interview and via their portfolio may be accepted. All candidates invited to interview are asked to bring a portfolio.
For information on alternative entry requirements please see www.ucas.com.
Find out more about the interview process for this course.
Toby Olié (2006) Associate Puppetry Director for War Horse and Puppetry Designer for The Light Princess, both at the National Theatre.
Matt Hutchinson (2011) Puppeteer and Fabrication Assistant for the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies.
View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.
View profiles of the Class of 2015 for this course. Click on each student to see to their CV.
Graduated 2011, recent work has included as Puppet Maker for Pirate Gran at the Scamp Theatre and in the puppet making team for I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical at the London Palladium.
Training at Central gave me focus, purpose and preparation for my future career. Puppetry is a vast and ever-developing sector of performance arts practice, and the course encourages students to really define and hone their own interests, ideas and approaches to work in a collaborative, supportive and nurturing environment. I felt I emerged not only as a specialist in my designated area of work, but as a well-rounded creative practitioner with a comprehensive understanding of theatre and performance practice.