Exploring speculations about new materialism and performance, this article discusses how we (re)consider the ‘puppet other’ as a subject in community performance, focusing particularly on work with youth who have severe and complex learning difficulties. The discussion of this project explores the ethics and politics of practice in applied puppetry (Smith 2014) through reflections about the use of performing objects in relation to specific communities and identities. The method employed in this article is to explore the world of objects in practice, using the ideas of object-oriented ontology. This viewpoint explores poetic processes and speculations about the inner reality of objects, in relation to human participants. This exploration of the materiality of objects is framed in reaction to the way power operates, specifically through the Foucauldian lens of biopower.