Chapter 12 delves into the rich past of Sue Buckmaster’s theatrical ancestry, accessing five generations of specialty acts through the aural histories of relatives, remembered childhood/adulthood experiences, history books and the theatrical ephemera found in her grandfather Thomas Varley’s garage after he passed away in 1987.

The chapter retraces the earliest steps from nineteenth-century specialty acts called The Cycling Elliotts, The Musical Savonas and The Musical Elliotts, before exploring Sue Buckmaster’s childhood in the twentieth century on tour with her parent’s act, The Buckmaster Puppets. Finally, we retrace the journey of Buckmaster’s professional life post-university, cutting her teeth with companies such as BRAG, PuppetWorks and Working Parts, prior to arriving full-circle at the formation of Theatre-Rites (where Chapter 2 begun).

Practical exercises

The book concludes by outlining nine invaluable practical exercises that the company uses as part of their two-day professional puppetry training workshop.

These exercises develop skill-building in a range of key areas from aiding puppeteers to draw focus to an object, to sensitising the puppeteer to the musculature of the animated thing. From collaboratively puppeteering a figure through ensemble puppetry to developing dramaturgies for visual theatre. The exercises contain illustrations taken directly from the company’s training room with useful written prompts to assist you in making the very most of each practical activity.