This chapter explores how theories of child development in psychology have underpinned Sue Buckmaster’s puppetry direction, teasing out the unique capacity of animated objects to act as symbolic markers for different kinds of attachments and rites of passage. Concepts such as Donald Woods Winnicott’s ‘transitional objects’ will be applied to Buckmaster’s early work on Complicité’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1997).

The chapter will show how the dependency between puppeteer and puppet is brought into sharper relief through the infant puppet and puppeteer-parents in Beasty Baby (2016–2020), whilst Cellarworks (1999) provides a vivid illustration of Melanie Klein’s notions of ‘splitting’ and ‘reparation’. The translation of personal experiences into accessible metaphors has been a cornerstone of Buckmaster’s practice, and a discussion of Mojo (2011–2012) will demonstrate that objects become a metaphor for the ritual passage from childhood to adulthood, mirroring Buckmaster’s own parental experiences.