File puptcrit/puptcrit.0606, message 410

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 12:26:28 EDT
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] X(=Neo?)-puppetry

Before I become confused by how I categorize my forms of Puppetry, my way  of 
understanding object puppets implies the use of ordinary objects manipulated  
as entertainment. Any performance employing the use of kitchen spoons or 
other  silverware, as in all the examples below, would to me, by definition be  
object puppetry. 
A spoon is a household object, and employing it as a puppet creates a very  
different significance than the fabrication of a puppet that represents a 
spoon,  which I would think of as a more traditional form of Puppetry. "Lion  King" 
masks and puppets are clearly not found object puppets, but were created  
specifically for that production. Are they "neo"? Someone will have to define  
that for me.
In a message dated 6/22/2006 10:59:24 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

Dear  Stephen,

This is not quite what I am trying to get at.  Maybe it  will help if 
I outline some hypothetical puppet shows that we can use as  examples:

1.  This is a puppet show about the Royal House of  England.  All the 
puppets are pieces of silverware, and the Queen is  played by a soup 
spoon.   The puppets are operated so as to  create in the audience a 
maximum forgetfulness that what they is viewing  is a bunch of spoons, 
forks and knives.  You can say this is trad  puppetry.

2. This is a puppet show about the Royal Family of  Dishland.  In 
Dishland, the ruling dynasty is the Silverware Dynasty,  and the 
current Queen is Queen Soupspoon.  Here, the audience is  aware that 
they are viewing silverware, but the silverware is  anthropomorphized 
- the story is told as if objects could live normal  human lives, and 
the puppets (i.e. the silverware) are operated so as to  make this 
believable.  This, too, is trad puppetry.

3.   This is an object performance about the goings-on within the 
Royal House  of England.   There is a narrator narrating events, and  
illustrating them by manipulating various objects.  A spoon with a  
wig is used to "stand in" for the Queen.  No attempt is made to  
create any illusion, and the "puppets" are used the way little 
movable  pin-ups on a map might be used to illustrate a narrative 
about troop  movements in a military campaign.  This is, broadly 
speaking, in the  same category of puppetry as your "Lion King" 
example - if you disagree,  maybe we should treat the "Lion King" 
example as a separate  one.

4.  This is a theater piece about the Queen of England,  involving 
live actors and puppetry.  The Queen  is at the dinner  table eating 
her soup, when the soup-spoon falls into her lap and  immediately 
starts taking root there.  Now the Queen has a soup spoon  growing out 
of her.  Soon the spoon sprouts other spoons, and the  Queen's body is 
partly taken over by this alien inanimate life.  One  might say that 
the spoon has now become Queen of England, but in a very  different 
way than in any of the preceding examples.   This is  the kind of 
thing that I was calling X-puppetry.  Daniel is right, I  think, to 
connect it to Surrealism, although I think these kinds of themes  also 
make their appearance before Surrealism - for example, in  Romanticism.


>Dear Malgosia,
>   Let  me get this straight. Are you saying that the difference between
>neo-  and traditional puppetry is whether or not the focus is on the
>illusion  of life in the  performing object?
>If that is the case than one of  the best examples of the neo- genre is
>Taymor's "Lion King." The Lion  Heads worn  on top of the actors heads
>are neo- because they  merely imply "lion-ess"  (or is it "lionocity")
>while not  literally portraying an illusion of a living lion. On the
>other hand,  the shadow puppet lions from the same show are in strictly
>trad  mode.
>I think Jurkowski spelled out some of these ideas in his  writings. He
>talks a great deal about the way puppet "signs" have  changed over time,
>and he identifies the death of the illusion of life  in the puppet as a
>characteristic of contemporary Western  puppetry.

List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005