Sue Buckmaster

Dr Sue Buckmaster is the Artistic Director of Theatre-Rites, a puppetry expert and the fourth generation of theatre practitioners in her family.

Since 1996 she has directed 12 site-specific productions and 15 theatre productions for Theatre-Rites. In 1996 she co-directed the company’s first production Houseworks with co-founder Penny Bernand. Houseworks was the UK’s first site-specific production created for the under 5’s and is considered by the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner as one of her desert island theatrical experiences.  More recently she has directed The Welcoming Party, 2017 and 2018 (Manchester International Festival, z-Arts and the Ruhrtriennale Festival in Germany) and The Incredible Tale of Robot Boy, a co-production with Schauspielhaus Bochum in 2019.  

Sue has an MA in Contemporary Theatre Practice from Essex University, which included a thesis on the Psychoanalytical Study of the Power of the Puppet. In 2018 the University of Essex awarded her an honorary doctorate in recognition of her inspiring leadership in theatre direction and puppetry. 

Sue has many years of experience as a director, puppetry specialist and teacher, and has worked with a wide variety of companies outside of Theatre-Rites including the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic, Sadler's Wells and Complicite.  In 2015 and 2019 she collaborated with Akram Khan, directing Chotto Desh and Chotto Xenos; versions of his award-winning productions Desh and Xenos for a young audience.

Sue’s work regularly involves cross-artform collaborations.  With Theatre-Rites she has worked with puppeteers, sculptors, animators, choreographers, Iranian daf drummers, world jazz percussionists, djs and magicians – to name but a few.

Sue also works as a puppetry advisor/specialist on productions outside of Theatre-Rites, including as head of puppetry for the acclaimed Peter Pan originally performed in Kensington Gardens, which then toured the US.

External Theatre Credits Include:

  • Mahabarrata - Sadler’s Wells, directed by Stuart Wood.
  • Pinocchio - Lyric, Hammersmith, directed by Marcello Magni.
  • The Nativity - Young Vic, directed by David Farr.
  • Caucasian Chalk Circle - National Theatre, directed by Simon McBurney.
  • Things Curious - BAC, directed by Rufus Norris.
  • Ghost Downstairs - Leicester Haymarket, directed by Phelim McDermott.
  • Sue has also worked as a Puppetry Director for Nottingham Playhouse, Pop-Up Theatre Company, Arts Threshold and Tara Arts.

As Puppetry Consultant:

  • Same Same…But Different – Sonia Sabri Company
  • Melody Looses her Mojo - 20 Stories High, directed by Keith Saha
  • Coram Boy - National Theatre, directed by Melly Still.
  • The Odyssey - Bristol Old Vic, directed by David Farr.
  • Bartholomew Fair - RSC, directed by Laurence Boswell.
  • Hamlet - Young Vic, directed by Julia Bardsley.
  • Arcane - Opera Circus, directed by John Wright.

For information on the shows Sue has created for Theatre-Rites please take a look at our current and previous shows section on the website.

Photograph of Sue Buckmaster

Sue is the Artistic Director of Theatre-Rites and the fourth generation of theatre practitioners in her family.

"Why does children’s theatre have such a bad name? One reason could be that not enough people know the work of Theatre-Rites. Headed by Sue Buckmaster, the London based company has been devising outstanding live performances for family audiences since 1995. Its new touring show is one of the best times I’ve had in a theatre all year."
- The Times on Mischief