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2pm BST / 6pm PKT / 9am EST

For adults and educators. 

This talk and workshop will focus on the use of puppetry to deal with difficult situations, in education, health and community contexts. As far as we understand, puppetry was first used in funeral rituals to assist the dead person to transition smoothly between the world of the living and the world of the dead, and also to assist the mourners in dealing with this transition. Puppetry has also been used in multiple healthcare contexts, to accompany the patient through difficult states and in education to talk about difficult topics. I will be discussing why the puppet is useful in these contexts, from early years to terminal illness and giving examples of these practices which may be useful for practitioners and educators. The workshop will focus on how to use puppets in a threshold experience, to assist those having to work with people going through transitional states. 

Cariad Astles.jpg

Cariad Astles is Puppetry Tutor at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and at Exeter University. She trained in Drama at Exeter University, and then as a puppeteer as an apprentice to Travesura Theatre, run by Chilean exiles in London, followed by many years performing and directing puppetry with different companies, including the Little Angel Theatre, with Sue Buckmaster of Theatre Rites and with Puppetcraft. She has directed puppetry for a number of companies and shows including Pericles and Eva Luna for Wooden Tongues Theatre Company, The Pied Piper and Tristan and Isolde for Puppetcraft, Macbeth for the Northcott Theatre and The Walk for Med Theatre. She has run numerous puppetry training workshops in the UK, Australia, Brazil, Spain and China, focusing on training for the puppeteer-performer, on applied puppetry and on intercultural training practices. She also works with the Catalan-based collective Irènia (, a group of artists and educators working on themes of peace, development and global education. With this group she has run training workshops in puppetry for peace education and development in Tunisia and Catalonia.


She is President of the UNIMA Research Commission and regularly contributes to the Commission for Education, Health and Therapy. Over the last ten years, she has specialised in applied puppetry, particularly puppetry in health contexts. 

She has previously received awards from the Anna Lindh Foundation for the work with Irenia, which received a United Nations Intercultural Innovation Award; from the AHRC for work on applied puppetry and funding from the Gulbenkian Foundation for the development of puppetry in live performance.

She co-founded the series of Broken Puppet symposia, which focused on puppetry in health, wellbeing and disability between 2017 and 2020 and was chief editor of the Arts and Health peer-reviewed special issue of Puppetry and Health: 


The Journal of Applied Arts and Health: special issue on Puppetry, Health, Wellbeing and Disability, Issue 11.1 and 11.2, July 2020

She has published numerous articles on puppetry and was also co-editor of 

Women and Puppetry
Critical and Historical Investigations

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