Puppetry: How To Do It

A book of training exercises

After more than 15 years of training puppeteers, our director Mervyn Millar brought together some of the key exercises that he had learnt into a book.

Puppetry: How to Do It is an accessible guide to demystify the art of performing with puppets. It's written to be used by directors, workshop leaders, teachers or solo performers who want to add puppetry to their work.

The book contains 50 practical exercises that can be done using nothing but simple, easily accessible materials. You do not need to make any puppets to use this book. It will give you the basic skills you need to use puppets of any kind and experiment with object manipulation, multi-operator puppetry, shadows or giant figures.

The book also contains discussion of the role of the puppeteer, directing puppetry, and how puppets work alongside actors.

It's published by Nick Hern Books, and available from the publishers via this link, or through other online and physical retailers. Ask your local bookshop to stock it and ask for it to be added to the library or reading list!

Press Quotes

'Brilliantly demystifies the art of puppetry and places the development of the performer at its heart… a clear, accessible and playful guide… the exercises are so well-constructed that you will immediately want to test them out'Drama Magazine

'A treasure trove of practical advice and insights into puppetry, suitable for people at all levels… with its clear, engaging style, this book will add a new dimension to drama classes, enabling teachers to build on students' existing skills and develop new ones in a fresh, innovative way'Teaching Drama

'An invaluable resource… Millar's obvious enthusiasm for puppetry leaps off the page and could convert even the most ardent puppet skeptic of the value of the art form. It's an absolute must for anyone with even the slightest interest in taking up puppetry - or even teaching it themselves'Broadway World


'This is a superb guide to puppet manipulation by one of the world's most experienced puppetry directors and teachers at a time when many actors are seeing puppetry as the twenty-first century’s evocative and powerful new performance medium' Basil Jones, Handspring Puppet Company

'This book captures Mervyn's playful and accessible process for working with actors to develop their puppetry skills – it's like having him in the room'Lucy Skilbeck, Director of Actor Training at RADA

'Mervyn Millar has a unique perspective on the meteoric rise of puppetry in British theatre having witnessed it from the inside. He was resident at the Puppet Centre Trust at BAC when Improbable Theatre were exploding theatrical form in 70 Hill Lane and Animo. He was studying with Handspring when they created the exquisite and game-changing giraffe puppet in Tall Horse. He was present from the earliest experiments at the National Theatre Studio in which puppetry and "poor theatre" were combined to create the performance language of War Horse. There is no one better placed to reveal the techniques of puppetry which made these changes and these shows possible'Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, and Co-director of War Horse

'More and more contemporary actors are adding puppetry to their arsenal of performance techniques. Here is a very timely guide to what is required from the actor to give life to the performed object as developed from Mervyn Millar’s own deep practical experience'Adrian Kohler, Handspring Puppet Company

'Based on the workshops he developed for training performers for War Horse, Mervyn has written this book to share his craft… the exercises are clear and easily reproducible for many different types of participants… a wonderful gift to the field of puppetry. I hope that it will be used widely to introduce adventurous spirits to this dynamic art form' Cheryl Henson, President of the Jim Henson Foundation, from her Foreword