File puptcrit/puptcrit.0606, message 421

Date: Thu, 22 Jun 2006 19:01:56 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] X(=Neo?)-puppetry

Steven, as far as I am concerned, I don't think that the distinction you're
making can really be maintained.  If I make a spoon especially for the
performance and make it look just like a piece of silverware, why would this
be a different kind of puppetry than if I buy the spoon in a kitchen store?
What if I paint a face on my bought spoon?  Put a dress on it?
Attach arms and legs to it?  At what point would my act stop being one kind 
of puppetry and start being another?

Me, I think the important thing is how the object is used in performance, not 
how it was manufactured or acquired.  If it is used the way a puppet
would traditionally be used, it's traditional puppetry.  But we could agree
to disagree.


> 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.
>      -Steven->
> 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.
> -m
> >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.
> >Stephen
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