PuppetCraft was set up in 1990.
PuppetCraft is one of Britain’s most acclaimed touring puppet troupes, presenting a wide range of shows and workshops to a spectrum of audiences, from children to families, and to adults. It is noted for a combination of beautifully crafted puppets with specially composed music.
The content of shows extends from traditional folklore of different countries, to original modern tales. The company varies from 2 to 12 performers, makers, musicians. Touring throughout the Southwest, nationally and internationally.
PuppetCraft performs in village halls, theatres, arts centres, primary and secondary schools, colleges, barns, marquees, sports-halls and sometimes outdoors.
Festival performances include Bath, Salisbury, Canterbury, Glastonbury, Swaledale, St Donates Story-Telling, Cheltenham Literature festivals. Internationally PuppetCraft has performed at Dublin Puppet Festival and in Germany, Zimbabwe and Sweden.
Places where PuppetCraft has performed include:
Bath Puppet Festival, Theatre Royal Festival, Salisbury Festival, Canterbury Festival, Totnes Word-Play festival, Swindon Literature Festival, Glastonbury Festival, St Donates Storytelling Festival in Wales, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Belfast, Dublin Puppet Festival, Battersea Festival, Brighton, Glasgow, Germany, Zimbabwe, Sweden.
In primary and secondary schools, colleges, village halls, theatres, barns, tents, sports-halls, outdoors…..
“I consider the work of PuppetCraft to be of a very high quality and would recommend it without hesitation to any venue looking for exciting puppet-theatre.” Dartington Arts.
“A simple story, beautifully staged.” TimeOut.
“The whole piece has wit and charm, to delight both children and adults” Daily Telegraph.
“Brilliant show – the audience was spellbound. The most magical puppet show I’ve ever seen – utterly transporting us into another world. Everything I could wish for adults and children.” Village Hall organiser.
Puppet Centre/Arts Council bursary to study the secrets of traditional puppetry in China for 7 months.
Year of the Artist residency in rural villages.
Nominated for the Lawrence Olivier Awards for outstanding achievement.
Eight project grants from The Arts Council.
As Deputy Director of the Little Angel Theatre for 10 years John made, directed, performed and coordinated puppet tours to international festivals in Europe, U.S.A., Scandinavia, Japan, Malaysia and China.
“John Roberts is one of the most talented members of the puppet theatre profession in Britain”.
Penny Francis MBE, General Secretary of the Puppet Centre, London.
Commissions, consultances, workshops… and more
2014 – 2017
A new version by Michael Rosen of the ancient Chinese epic.
A full theatrical puppet show for the whole family… perfect for ages 4+
Stunning string puppets, antique shadow puppets and live music.
Arts Council funding.
2011 – 2013
Circle of Tales
A myth from Africa retold to PuppetCraft by Gcina Mhlophe, Africa’s most exciting storyteller.
A puppet show with live music for the whole family from 4 years old.
Performed 104 times by 2 puppeteers and a musician, all around England and Wales.
Arts Council funding.
2008 to present
The Tin Forest
A puppet show without words.
Based on the book by Helen Ward, illustrated by Wayne Anderson, published by Templar.
A re-cycling story for family audiences… aged 3 and up.
Two puppeteers using Bunraku-form puppets accompanied by a musician playing hurdy-gurdy, harp and hammer dulcimer. 170 performances on nation-wide tours.
Arts Council funded.
Perseus and the Gorgon’s Head
By Adrian Mitchell based on the Greek Myth.
A play performed by people and puppets for adults and brave children over 7.
Songs. Puppets. Live music on the bouzouki.
Performed by three puppeteers and two musicians.
66 shows performed around England.
Arts Council funded.
2005 to present
Nobody Rides The Unicorn
2001 – 2003
The Amazing Adventures of Sindbad
1999 to present
The Mousehole Cat
Based on a well- known children’s book. Performed by Rachel Miller, musician and narrator, and John Roberts. Toured very successfully to over 200 schools, theatres, village halls and festivals throughout Britain and Ireland.
Seen by 36,000 people and still being asked for.
1997 to present
The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde
1996 – 2001
Tristan and Isolde
A large scale production with live music and song, written by Nick Stimson for PuppetCraft. For older children, family audiences and adults. Toured to 40 secondary schools in the South West and 60 public venues, nationwide and to Ireland.
Arts Council funded.
1994 – 1995
Sir Fool’s Quest
A large scale production with live music and song, written by Adrian Mitchell for PuppetCraft.
Five performers used hand puppets, water puppets, marionettes, giant dragons and 28 musical instruments. For family audiences.
103 performances in 75 venues, nation-wide, and toured to Ireland and a puppet festival in Germany.
Funded by South West Arts and Arts Council.
1996 – 2004
The Pied Piper
Based on Robert Browning’s poem.
Recorded music composed by Ian Wellens. Performed by two puppeteers, using glove and string puppets. Toured to primary schools, village halls – nationally and to Ireland.
250 performances. Seen by 32,500.
1991 – 1995
Short studies exploring a variety of traditional and modern puppet forms. A two performer show for small scale venues and schools. Often linked to workshop sessions. For audiences ranging from primary school children to adults.
1990 – 1993
The Bewitched Baobab Tree
Large rod puppets retell an African legend, accompanied by a narrator/musician playing an array of African instruments. For Theatres, Arts Centres and Schools up to 400 seats.
Performed by 4 puppeteers and a musician. 55 performances.
John has been asked to curate an exhibition of puppets at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. He will be displaying 70 puppets from around the UK… and the world.
1990 to present
Annual puppet carving courses in Devon, tutored by John Roberts, draw students from around the world.
For 32 years has run puppet carving courses for adults: including at Little Angel Theatre, Horse and Bamboo, Norwich Puppet Theatre, West Dean College, Central School of Speech & Drama, Puppet Place, in Sweden, Zimbabwe and Charlesville Institute of the Marionette.
“Excellent … covered all aspects in a short time…. very good tuition… the best course I have been on.”
John Roberts has written two book on puppet making.
Carve a marionette a step-by-step guide on how to carve a wooden marionette. Published by PuppetCraft. “Very inspiring. The best step by step guide available by far.” Comments from readers.
Making simple marionettes published by Crowood. “One of the best books ever published on puppet-making at a widely-accessible level.” Reviewed by a reader.
2016 to present
Boy, sister& foal
The Double by Dostoyevsky
The Dufay Collective
Made two puppets for a ‘Compare the Meerkat’ TV campaign.
Brains Drench TV advert
Give us a Hand!
Directed “Give us a Hand!” for the Little Angel Theatre, written by Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.
A celebration of the puppetry of John Wright who founded Little Angel Theatre in 1961.
“Impeccable show … seamlessly glued together” The Stage
South Downs College
Venus and Adonis
Designed, made and directed puppets for “All Change!” at The Anvil, Basingstoke: a large scale music-theatre production.
Year of the Artist
1992 to 2002
Dartington College of Art
Tutored a Puppetry module at Dartington College of Art for ten years.
The Dancer Hotoke
Designed, made and directed a contemporary puppet-music-drama for the South Bank, Almeida Theatre & Huddersfield International Contemporary Music Festival.
“Puppet theatre & contemporary music go together like silent movies & busking at the piano. The Bet premiered at the Purcell Room deserves to start a trend.” Independent