Toby is a director, designer and performer of puppetry, a passion that has developed since making his first puppets at the age of six
Through his work spanning plays, musicals, opera and dance, Toby strives to blur the boundaries between movement and design. He daringly fuses traditional and innovative techniques, creating compelling characters that lead audiences through fantastical, improbable and even impossible stories. Works include: Spirited Away (Imperial Theatre, Tokyo), Animal Farm (UK tour), 101 Dalmatians (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), Pinocchio (National Theatre), and Disney’s The Little Mermaid (in Tokyo, Moscow and The Netherlands).
Whilst training in puppetry at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Toby became involved in the development of War Horse, workshopping the production’s puppetry by Handspring Puppet Company over a number of months at the National Theatre Studio. He went on to puppeteer the hind of Joey in the original production at the National Theatre in 2007 before moving to Joey’s head for the subsequent West End transfer in 2009. On leaving the show as a performer in 2011 he was made an associate puppetry director, and continued to re-cast and re-stage the production throughout its run in London.
In 2013 Toby co-directed The Elephantom with fellow original War Horse puppeteer Finn Caldwell, which transferred to the West End after its initial sell out run at the National Theatre. In 2014 the pair co-founded the theatre company Gyre & Gimble to establish their creative partnership. They have gone on to create productions that are both original and unconventional, expanding audience’s expectations of what puppetry is capable of. Works include The Four Seasons: A Reimagining (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Hartlepool Monkey (UK tour), Running Wild (Chichester Festival Theatre, Regent’s Park & UK tour), and The Grinning Man (Bristol Old Vic & West End).
Alongside his designing and directing, Toby regularly teaches and lectures in puppetry for organisations including: Barbican, Blue Peter, Bristol Festival of Puppetry, Chichester Festival Theatre, Curious School of Puppetry, Little Angel Theatre, National Theatre Learning, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Talks at Google, and Wimbledon School of Art. In 2022 he co-founded Puppetry in Motion, an online resource created to inspire and nurture a passion for puppetry for those discovering the art form, be that in a rehearsal room, classroom or at home.