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John Wright
1906-1991

John Wright was born in South Africa in 1906, and tried his hand at farming before studying art in Cape Town. He worked his passage to England in 1935 and became an assistant stage manager for the Ballet Rambert, where he was inspired by a performance by Podrecca’s Piccoli, then a famous puppet company. His first performances were in an old farmhouse in South Africa, and his company travelled across the continent before reaching England in 1946.

John Wright
John-and-Lyndie

He toured again in Europe and southern Africa before settling in London in 1959. He bought the ruined temperance hall with his life savings and devoted 30 years of his life to the theatre. The theatre opened in 1961 in Dagmar Passage, Islington, London, where he created a unique place where puppets could cast their spell over audiences. John was awarded an MBE.

Peter Glanville once said: “For 50 years, it has been an embodiment of John Wright’s dedication, skill and vision for the art-form of puppetry. His beautifully crafted puppets and artfully choreographed productions will continue to inspire and set the benchmark for the work we create for the next 50 years. ”THE man behind Islington’s world-famous Little Angel theatre was honoured with the unveiling of a plaque in July 2011.

John Wright
IL-John-Wright

The work of the theatre continued after John died, under the direction of Lyndie Wright and Christopher Leith, a renowned puppeteer who had learned his craft at Little Angel. They encouraged new collaborations with writers, directors and musicians, including John Agard, Ken Campbell, Howard Gayton and Henk Shut, to produce a succession of innovative and highly acclaimed shows.

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