This article addresses the issues involved in the practice of applied puppetry in relation to immigration detention. Its reflections and assertions are situated within recent debates about the practice of the puppeteer with groups in workshops. This scholarly praxis has evolved from ideas drawn from the practice of a research project conducted in an immigration removal centre in the United Kingdom. The article explores making puppets and performing puppet shows in this traumatic detention environment, and reflects on the knowledge gained through subsequent lecture performances. The author has used puppetry previously in a number of unusual settings to engage groups, and these inform the discussion here. The article explores personal accounts of practice, experiences of workshops and questions about power and ethics.