Christopher Leith (19..-2015) was a theatre, television and film master puppeteer who is known for his work on Little Shop of Horrors, Labyrinth and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. He also worked with the Henson organisation on The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island and The Jim Henson Hour. His production of Beowolf was chosen by the National Theatre in 1979. He also went on to become the tutor of puppetry at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and to teach at Bretton Hall College in Wakefield and at the City Literary Institute and Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Christopher Leith: Puppeteer
In 1993 he took a three-year contract to become Director of The Little Angel Marionette Theatre in London. He had previously been on a tour of South Africa with the company after working with John Wright while still a schoolboy. He probably learned much of his insistence on ‘getting it right’ in both puppet making and puppet directing from John and Lyndie.Shortly before his death, Chris placed some of his most important work with The University of Durham, The National Puppetry Archive (British Puppet & Model Theatre Guild) and The Victoria & Albert Museum.
SMPC was delighted to receive his Caledonian Puppets (made for a restaurant in North London in 1982), puppets and masks from his production of Gogol’s The Overcoat (1981), Widdicombe Fair (1973), Thersytes (1982) and George and The Dragon (1983). All the objects were donated for display purposes only.
The SMPC Box Office and Main Entrance has a wonderful Chris Leith marionette – Long Legs The Piper – on display who can be seen piping a welcome to all visitors into the building. The Christopher Leith Puppet Collection also includes many cd photo and video albums of The Overcoat and his production of Widdicombe Fair.