John Roberts
John Roberts profile picture

I aim to make the week enjoyable, full of practical “how to do it” guidance while encouraging the imagination. I try to cater for each person’s individual needs, level of expertise and aspirations.

What will students gain if they come on one of your courses?

Each person will work to make their own Chinese style string puppet.
You can aim to make a complete puppet, which is a lot to do within the week, or you can work at a more leisurely pace. You will at least go away with all the bits and the knowledge to complete your puppet. I hope you will enjoy the week, gain knowledge, develop skills and have a wonderful sense of achievement.

Are there any particular techniques/processes you use in your teaching?

The techniques have been used for thousands of years to create one of the worlds most complex and versatile forms of puppet. I spent 6 months in China learning the secrets of making and performing these unique puppets.
The head, hands and feet are carved from soft wood, starting with an axe and then using simple chisels. Bodies are made using an elegant wire and paper frame technique. Legs and arms are from paper, cloth or wire.

What inspires your own work?

A love of making a fine puppet in wood and exploring its performance possibilities.

Where can students see examples of your work?

At West Dean on Sunday 10th June 2012 at 3pm. I will be performing my new show “Circle of Tales”. Have a look at to see where else you can see my shows.

Where did you gain your training/experience?

I trained as an architect before being enticed to follow my real obsession – puppetry, which was initially self taught – when I was invited to become a director of London’s famous Little Angel Puppet Theatre. There I learnt from one of Britain’s great puppet masters John Wright, MBE. I also spent time in China learning their puppet making and performing methods.

What teaching experience have you had?

I have run puppet-carving courses since 1985 and for 10 years I taught Puppetry at Dartington College of Arts. This will be my second year running a course at West Dean.

Is your work in any public or private collections?

Most of my work is for my own touring troupe, PuppetCraft. I have made many puppets on commission for theatre shows, films and TV, which often end up in display cases. A few puppets have been commissioned by private individuals.

Have you written any books/had articles published?

I am working on a book that will be published next year on Carving Marionettes.

Do you belong to any professional groups/societites?

I am a member of the international puppetry organisation UNIMA, British Puppet Theatre Guild, Puppeteers UK and the actors union Equity.