Armchair Puppet Theatre

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Armchair Puppet Theatre has extensively toured public libraries since 1989. We regularly work in the libraries of eight counties across Southern England, with our puppet shows and shadow puppet workshops. We have performed at the Library Theatre, Sheffield and are keen to extend our connections with libraries throughout Britain.

We are able to provide a variety of activities, in morning, afternoon and evening sessions. Bookings are usually for two sessions a day at different library venues. We participate in official openings of new libraries, book festivals, library presentations and celebratory events.

Our puppet work is especially suited to the focused library environment, and workshop participants are able to make excellent use of the library books as reference for stories and images.

For the workshops we provide for school and community college libraries see Shadow Puppets and Cultural Diversity.

Ten Years of Workshops for Summer Reading Challenges

Armchair Puppet Theatre has devised specific workshops for all the National Reading Challenges - Relay, Carnival, Planet, Maze, Rollercoaster, Voyage, Mission, Big Wild Read, Team Read, Quest Seekers and this summer’s Space Hop. Devised especially for these library tours have been “Libris” the Carnival Dragon, Six Stretchy Aliens, and our reading challenge introductory shows, “Theseus and the Minotaur”, “Fun Fair”, "The Owl and the Pussycat", “Espionage”, “Apple Pigs”, “Jason and the Golden Fleece”, “Jabberwocky” and for 2010 “Satellite”.

Our Shadow Puppet Workshops enable groups of up to 25 participants to make characters and props to illustrate scenes from favourite storybooks, epic tales, poetry or myths and legends. A fun finale to the workshop is created when the resulting four or five shadow puppet shows are performed to fellow participants and family. Enquire.

For more information about our 2010 Space Hop workshop tour, see our News Page.

Burglar Bill

A well known and wonderful story book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg is presented as a glove and shadow puppet show for the whole family. Packed full of details from the book this is a very funny and engaging performance with something for everyone, lots of audience participation and a moral ending. Having performed this puppet show professionally since 1988, there's now a second generation cult following of audiences who love dressing up in their stripy clothes and burglar masks. Our puppet theatre is able to fit into the smallest of libraries, and yet large enough to hold a capacity audience spellbound in a Central Library.
Performance lasts 35 minutes.
See Burglar Bill. Enquire.

Small Wonder

This intimate piece of children's theatre is set in a colourful mediaeval walled town and performed with an intricate set of glove, rod and shadow puppets. The people of town are involved in a frantic search to find "something that has never been seen before by human eyes". In a race against the cuckoo clock, will they solve this impossible task in time for the Queen's arrival? This story by Tony Jones, commissioned by us for a slightly older audience, has been published in a school anthology of drama ideas. The conclusion has an environmental twist.
Performance lasts 45 minutes
See Small Wonder. Enquire.

Family Learning Workshops

Over the past few years Family Learning have provided valuable funding for some of our workshops in West Sussex, Wiltshire and Devon Libraries. These enjoyable workshops have enabled children and adults to work together making and performing shadow puppets from a wide range of stories.

Big Read

Armchair Puppet Theatre has animated two Big Read events with shadow puppet workshops. In Berkshire we introduced the session by performing an excerpt from Jerome K Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat" and in Portsmouth, workshop participants made all the puppets to perform the Cyclops story from Homer's "The Odyssey".


"Burglar Bill is THE BEST puppet show I have ever seen! It has enhanced the reputation of the Library among those who attended."
Suzan Davis, Children’s Librarian, Reading, Berkshire

"The children were enthralled with the Small Wonder puppets and the set was wonderful. The mixed age group all enjoyed it."
Cheryl Cliffe, Children’s Librarian, N Gloucestershire



What librarians said about our Reading Challenge work...

“Everyone had such a fabulous time at the Reading Mission workshop. They all will have wonderful memories. As children were leaving and thanking us again and again, I heard them planning puppet shows at home - what fun!! I am so glad you could come."
Connie Rothman, Library Manager, Southbourne, Dorset

"The photos of the Reading Voyage workshop show have come out really well and are all in the display case in our entrance with the story in pictures of the Owl and the Pussycat. Loads of positive feedback."
Anne Salenieks, Library Manager, Parkstone, Dorset

"The Rollercoaster Workshop got them all to work together to produce something for everybody to share. It made me think what we are all capable of and was brilliant that the kids were so pleased.”
Anne Marajer, Parkstone Librarian

"Excellent coverage - dovetailing in with the Maze theme!"
Heather Young, Children’s Librarian, Bournemouth

"Listening skills were encouraged through storytelling, performance and in following practical instructions. Good experience of working together and problem solving."
Paula Mardo, Children’s Librarian, North Devon

"It was good seeing families working together and performing their puppet plays together. The simplest materials made such effective puppets. We do hope that you will come again!"
Penny England, Children's Librarian, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

"Many thanks for coming to Okehampton Library and running the Space Hop shadow puppet workshop, it was a brilliant event enjoyed by all."
Carole Cornwall, Acting Assistant in Charge