File puptcrit/puptcrit.0707, message 250


Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2007 14:39:57 -0400
To: puptcrit-AT-puptcrit.org
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] puppetry and racial problems



On Jul 28, 2007, at 12:44 PM, Alan Cook wrote:

> I am considering an essay from puppetry aspects. What is a stereotype 
> puppet, what is a folk art puppet (the two different categories have 
> been confused in the past), what is a non-stereotype puppet?

   This is probably oversimplifying it a bit, but I think that a 
stereotype puppet generally would portray, through design and/or 
action, negative aspects of a race, religion, etc. through exaggeration 
of features, action, language and so on, as opposed to a folk art 
puppet which would show things in a more natural light.
  Also, generally speaking, folk art puppets tend to be rougher/less 
refined in style. This is not to say that they are lesser in quality, 
but that the style is not as smooth lined, etc..
   I can't speak much to the idea of addressing race, etc. through 
puppetry other than to say that when we have used puppets and/or 
stories from other cultures/races than "white" there are occasional 
objections that we are stealing their culture (or the like). Just 
another case of the white man oppressing (insert race/culture/ideal 
here). Occasionally we also get positive comments along the line of 
"thank you, at least SOMEONE is seeing that these stories are passed 
down. My take is that if the story speaks to me and/or something I want 
to address, and I can do it well, it should not matter what background 
I come from. That is part of the greatness of puppetry. I'm not a dog 
or dragon either, but I can play one on the puppet stage.
   I would love to see more ethnic variety in both the make up of our 
field and in the shows that are presented. It is hard to get that ball 
rolling though. It is a shame there aren't more prominent puppeteers 
from various ethnicities that are visible in the field. While there are 
some out there, it's hard for them to be an example when they are 
hidden behind a playboard or the like. Yes, I know it is part of the 
nature of the beast, but I don't know what can be done to change it 
either.

Christopher

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