File puptcrit/puptcrit.0510, message 110

Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 16:32:33 -0400
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Early American Shadow Puppet Theatre

Greetings Kate Robinson,
First, you should always start with McPharlin, THE PUPPET THEATRE IN AMERICA: A HISTORY (Plays Inc., 1949/69).  UMASS probably has a copy or two.  If not, it is easy to pull it out of interlibrary loan.  There's a lot that needs to be revised, of course, which is where your work would come in.  
Generally, histories that claim a direct lineage between global shadow traditions are built primarily on speculation.  There are puppeteer families that bring European shadow traditions to the U.S., but shadow theatre in the two continents dates far further back than that.  If you are tracing a specific tradition, say "Punch" or "Karagoz," then you might find a smoking gun or two.  Lots of immigrant theatre and festivals have documented performances.  If it's not explicity enough in McPharlin, the archive at the Detroit Institute of the Arts has most, if not all of, the primary sources.  If you are researching "shadow puppetry," you need to deal with pre-historic native American settlements that probably brought Asian traditions with them.  Again, all very interesting but also very speculative.  It has to depend on your specific goals.
Incidentally, I believe there are volumes upon volumes of historiography out there, so I would like to know how your particular guide will contribute to the literature.  Is your how-to guide going to be specifically for researching puppet theatre?  Or are you considering a broader guide that talks the reader through the specifics of a series of topics, under the larger topic of say "historiography in context?"  Reading a good representation of the wealth of historiographical literature would be necessary to resolve this question.
As to your question of sources, again, start with McPharlin.  He did a fine job of cataloging the source material from the colonial and early republican periods.  If the sources in the book don't satisfy, they are all at the DIA in some form or another.
Good hunting!
Ben Fisler
Theatre Program Director
Otero Junior College
-----Original Message-----
From: Kate Robinson <>
Sent: Mon, 10 Oct 2005 14:51:59 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit] Early American Shadow Puppet Theatre

Dear All,
I am an undergraduate student at Lesley University in Massachusetts in their 
Learning Community Bachelor's program.  What that means is that I basically have 
an advisor and do all independent research work.

To that end, I am seeking to earn a degree in writing and currently am 
researching a "how to" guide for researching historical subjects.  Specifically, 
my paper will be about shadow puppetry in early America.

Questions I need to answer are as follows:  (If you have further information or 
resources to share beyond my thought process, please expand your answers.)
1.  From where did shadow puppet theatre come to the U.S., is there any direct 
historical evidence of transmittal from Turkey or Greece, or through Europe from 
these locations?
2.  Were the stories told in this theatre adaptions from the Greek, Turkish or 
other European tales or are many original?
3.  Where might I find evidence of these shows, were they listed in newspapers 
or other media and are there archives anywhere of "proof" of same?
4.  Was the purpose merely entertainment, did these shows stand alone or were 
they performed along with other entertainment and/or informative 
5.  If there is anyone connected with this who knows some of the older stories 
and their origins, or lack thereof, can they share these with me?
6.  Any ideas on resources, books, articles, personal notes, theatre courses, 
etc. that you might pass along?

As you might be able to tell, while I am doing what is called a "process paper" 
about "how" to do historical research on a subject, I am also extremely 
interested personally in researching the shadow puppet topic and developed an 
interest in this type of puppetry from the stories/shows at Old Sturbridge 
Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.

I also have books I have borrowed from a puppeteer about the Karagoz (sp?) and 
Karagioz (sp?) and have had access to some of the German shadow books etc.

Again, whatever information or direction you might offer would be greatly 
appreciated.  Thank you for the work that you do in puppetry and I hope that 
through my research, I might offer whatever information I pull together back to 
this forum/group for future reference.

In gratitude,
Kate Robinson
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