Roger Titely Q & A

Master Puppetry Artist Roger Titely Discusses Creative Process 

birds-rogertitleyTell us about your work.  
 I have been involved in puppetry since 1985. Much of my work in the early days was for film and television and involved trying to replicate animals and animal movement in a hyper-realistic way. Since 2009 most of my work has involved more basic, lightweight, and stylized puppets aimed at simplicity of construction and movement.

This style has become a staple in the NUTCRACKER! Production. Most notable is the Dove of Peace from the production's 2nd Act, The Land of Peace and Harmony." 


Discuss your work on the World War I play about a horse.

 Many people confuse my work with Handspring Puppet Company who made the puppets for the Warhorse production. The reason for this is easy to see. We are both from Africa and we both make animal and human puppets."


Discuss your work with native Africans.

 Especially in Africa, I try to use people without much puppetry or theatre experience to build and operate my white creatures. This gives individuals who would not usually get a chance to build and perform puppets a unique experience.  

 The need to become the animal also creates an awareness and appreciation of creatures, bridging the widening gap between humans and nature. 

Discuss your
work with theaters and corporations worldwide.

 My creature puppets have appeared in hundreds of events and productions large and small from the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Brazil to performances in tiny villages in South Africa. 


 Give us examples of animals (creatures) you have created. 

 I have created around 60 different animals/creatures in the last 14 years incorporating mammals, insects, fish, birds, and Mythological beasts. My best work includes the Firebird and Peacock that are showcased in the NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet Production. 


dove of peace_rogertitleyDiscuss how you developed your techniques. For example, creating moving parts of the birds. 

 My aim is to create low-tech puppets that are easy to build, light, and simple to use. For this reason, I avoid cables and electronics as much as possible. I also do not use any digital means to create my creatures. 



Explain the process involved in creating your puppets. 

 I start by building a miniature scale model using flat sheets of polyethylene foam. Once the joints and movements are perfected, I disassemble my small model, create templates, photograph the flat shapes, and then scale them up to whatever size animal the production requires.  I usually do all the cutting of the material using a small sharp and slightly flexible kitchen knife.