This chapter explores how notions of death have been expressed, ritualised and personified in puppet-form in the family friendly shows of Theatre-Rites, beginning with the sacrificial puppet that is routinely ‘killed’ in the improvisational event, The Puppet Whisperer live show. Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical theories of the ‘paranoid-schizoid’ and ‘depressive positions’ will help to develop a deeper understanding of the mental attitudes a puppet can adopt when their life-giver becomes their persecutor/killer. The chapter will also illustrate through the Dolly puppet in The Puppet Whisper that where puppets are experienced as disturbing, distinctions between life and death can be at their thinnest. Puppets such as Dolly can summon Ernst Jentsch and Sigmund Freud’s varying notions of ‘the uncanny’, resurfacing infantile beliefs such as the ‘omnipotence of thought’ that are usually surmounted in adulthood.
Finally, the chapter will reflect on Theatre-Rites’ site-specific show Paradise (2010), which explored pilgrim folktales from around the world surrounding death and death-rites. The hunt for different ideas of ‘paradise’ becomes a metaphor for seeking out a relationship with death in a way that was accessible for child audiences.