Puppetry: Design and Performance, BA

Duration: 3 years full-time, October start

UCAS code: Institution code: C35; Course code: W441

Award: Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Theatre Practice

BA Puppetry, Design and Performance.

Central pioneered the first UK degree in puppet theatre and continues to be one of the world’s leading institutions for the training of puppeteers, attracting national and international students. This course embraces the three concepts of design, performance and theatre making.

About the course

Students develop specific puppetry making, manipulation and performance skills, and also work closely with designers and performance arts students on collaborative projects to explore multi-disciplinary work in which puppets and animated forms perform alongside scenography, new writing, movement and experimental performance practices.

Skills in design, sculpture, manipulation, visual performance, animation, movement, voice, devising and collaborative theatre making are developed. The course aims to develop practitioners who are able to initiate and develop their own projects as well as collaborating closely with others within a discipline that requires both technique and creativity.

Apply for 2017 entry

Interested in applying for 2017 entry? This programme is still accepting applications, and you are likely to be offered an interview; sign up for an interview slot by filling out this form.

Course Detail

Year 1

Make, perform and direct: An introduction to a range of collaborative and course-specific projects in order to explore puppet making and animation processes, principles of movement, writing, design skills, voice work, acting, animation and manipulation, and application of manipulation skills to specific projects. Puppetry students create a performance in response to a text and develop installation, site-specific and immersive theatre in collaboration with students on Central’s other courses. They also research traditional puppetry forms and contemporary puppetry companies of note.

Year 2

Write, create: Collaborations with Performance Arts and Design for the Stage students on experimental and speculative performance projects; and development of a major puppetry production which will tour nationally and possibly internationally. Where negotiated, students will 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. Students research different styles and practitioners such as Kantor, Meyerhold, Craig, symbolism and Dada.

Year 3

Critique: Students 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.

Download BA (Hons) Theatre Practice Course Specification 2016-2017 (1.24 MB)


On all years of this course students will develop projects for performance both within and outside Central, and work closely with professional practitioners and internationally recognised puppetry and visual theatre companies, who are all experts in their fields.

Students are encouraged to engage with contemporary practice from the outset, to develop strong working relationships with professional practitioners and to forge their own identities as specialists in the field.

Throughout the course there will be opportunities to experience puppetry in a variety of contexts, participate in frequent visits to shows, talks and workshops by visiting professionals, and benefit from ongoing collaboration with a number of arts bodies within London and beyond.

Puppetry, Design and Performance students also undertake placements with a range of companies such as the National Theatre, Polka Theatre, Little Angel Theatre, Theatre-Rites, Dockteatern Tittut in Stockholm, Edinburgh Puppet Company, Blind Summit, CBeebies and ITV.

Professional Focus

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 students participate in masterclasses at Suspense, the International Festival of Adult Puppet Theatre. There are also talks by internationally recognised practitioners such as Sandglass Theatre, Jane Taylor (Handspring) and Thai puppeteers from Arts on Location.

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 productions and performances have been part of festivals such as 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, hospitals, residential centres, schools and community centres.

Recent Visiting Staff

Stephen Mottram, Sue Dacre, Steve Tiplady, Gren Middleton, Sue Buckmaster, Dr John Bell, Rene Baker, Penny Francis MBE.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Minimum Entry Requirements

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.

Admission with Academic Credit

For information on alternative entry requirements please see www.ucas.com.

Application Details

This programme is still accepting applications for 2017 entry, and you are likely to be offered an interview (although UCAS will mark your application as ‘late’).

See How to Apply section for Undergraduate courses.

We particularly encourage applications from groups currently under-represented in higher education, such as students with disabilities and members of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups. Find out more information on Central’s commitment to equality and diversity.


Find out more about the interview process for this course.

International Interviews

Each year Central hosts a number of interviews outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international interviews are designed to replicate the London-based interview experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Event Finder for listings of upcoming interview locations and dates.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.


Notable Graduates

Toby Olié (2006) Provides Puppet Design for Wonder.land, and, The Light Princess, and he was the Associate Puppetry Director for War Horse, all at the National Theatre. Other Puppet Design credits include, The Magic Flute (Royal Opera House), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Royal Ballet) and The Little Shop of Horrors (Manchester Royal Exchange).  

Matt Hutchinson (2011) was Puppeteer and Fabrication Assistant for the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies. Previous puppetry credits include, War Horse (National Theatre), The Tempest (Royal Shakespeare Company and Little Angel Theatre), The Wild Night of the Witches (Little Angel Theatre) and Bagpuss (Soho Theatre).

Mark Down (1996) founded Blind Summit Theatre and has been the Director of Puppetry for numerous productions, amongst which are, The Magic Flute (Royal Opera House), His Dark Materials (National Theatre) and Madam Butterfly (Metropolitan Opera, New York).

Fagner Gastaldon and Cass Gastaldon founded PuppetSoup, and productions so far include, Land of The Dragon, The Memory Keeper and Fix Freddie!

Recent Graduate Employment

Puppeteers: War Horse, Blind Summit/ENO collaboration, Horse and Bamboo Theatre, Mongrels, BBC TV, and for traumatised children in Iraq.

Performers: The Paper Cinema, Little Angel Theatre, Puppet Theatre Barge.

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.

Artist Residency: Tallinn Treff Festival.


View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

Cariad Astles, BA, MA

Lecturer, Course Leader Puppetry: Design and Performance

Related Courses


Matt Hutchinson
Matt Hutchinson

Graduated 2011, recent work has included Animatronic Puppeteer for ABC Bear for TV/ORF Austria, Puppet Maker on several shows for Theatre-Rites, and Puppet Maker and Puppeteer working with surgical teams at Imperial College London to improve surgical training working and helping facilitate puppetry workshops.

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.

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