Robot Boy puppet raises his hand towards his brain which has wires attached which are lit from within his brain.

Animating the Brain

A research project funded by the Wellcome Trust, working with Neuroscientists from KCL.

In 2015 Theatre-Rites received funding from the Wellcome Trust to embark on an R&D project to explore the parallels between the methods of brain investigation and manipulation employed by neuroscientists, with the methods puppeteers use to manipulate both a puppet and the spectators’ imagination – giving the illusion of a living brain in a puppet.

Taking inspiration from the classic Pinocchio story, we gathered a diverse team of artists to look at ways of making neuroscience engaging for a young audience.

By the end of 2015 we had developed the first 30 minutes of a possible theatre production which we revisited in October 2016, presenting 2 work-in-progress performances at Polka Theatre’s Brainwaves Festival, featuring our LabBoy puppet.

In November 2017, the next stage of the project was realised in a residency at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), spending 2 weeks in The Koala Ward (the children’s neurological ward) where we met with clinicians, patients and their families. Throughout the residency, we introduced people to LabBoy and helped patients create a metaphorical version of their own brain, helping them and us to reflect on their experience.


Creative Team

Sue Buckmaster


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