Have you ever watched the original Thunderbirds and tried to count all the strings? Well, puppets have come a long way since then – and that, in part, is down to the technological advances of innovative puppet masters like Samuel Wyer.

Wyer, a puppet-maker and theatre designer, recently helped create the Sherlock Holmes Experience at Madame Tussauds in London.

He works from a studio in an old Victorian police station in Deptford. But he also spends a lot of time in theatres.“I’m passionate about designing these characters and costumes and seeing them come to life in the spaces I create,” he says. “I love designing for stage, but the real thrill is having the opportunity to create entire immersive worlds for people to explore and discover.”

Practical Skills

Wyerlearnedt many of his skills from his father. “He taught me a lot of practical skills, which gave me a really good start in my career,” he says. He reckons the most important skill is “a strong sense of visual storytelling”.

“Theatre sets were traditionally two-dimensional, but I work in an ever-changing industry that moves with fashions and technology,” adds Wyer. “The recent boom in immersive theatre demands a whole different approach to creating 360-degree environments that can be explored and interacted with.

“Personally I still draw heavily from old, almost ritualistic, mask and puppetry within my designs to engage people in the action of the story.”

And if he hadn’t gone into the theatre? “My father is a landscape gardener, and my whole family are incredibly connected to our gardens and wildlife. I feel I’d have likely followed in his footsteps. That or a llama farmer.” Obviously.

This post originally appeared on iNews on July 22, 2016, and has been reposted with permission.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.