Sue Buckmaster

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

In 2018 Sue was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Essex 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 including the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Young Vic, Sadler's Wells and Complicite.  In 2015 she collaborated with Akram Khan, directing Chotto Desh; a version of his award-winning production Desh for a young audience, before creating Beasty Baby; a co-production between Polka Theatre and Theatre-Rites which ran from October 2015 to January 2016. In spring 2016 she co-directed The Broke 'N' Beat Collective with Keith Saha from 20 Stories High.  

Sue has created ten theatre and eleven site-specific 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.  Under Sue’s artistic leadership Theatre-Rites has consistently supported a range of artforms to develop an infrastructure for work created for young audiences.  When Sadler’s Wells wanted to commission their first contemporary production for children they turned first to Theatre-Rites and then introduced Sue to choreographer Arthur Pita.  Together they created the award-winning Mischief.  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 Includes:

  • 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:

  • 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.

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. 

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