File spoon-archives/puptcrit.archive/puptcrit_2003/puptcrit.0306, message 16


Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 15:11:39 -0400
Subject: Re: PUPT: Puppet Criticism Again: A Call for Ideas!



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Hmm. Thanks, John, I knew I could count on your input. I will be sure
to pass your extensive bibliography on to the festival participants in=20
Poland.

I know you like the idea of discussion, so please take this all in that=20
spirit.

Don't think me ungrateful if I take the time to explain more carefully=20
what I find useful, as I have, certainly, encountered a lot of the
writing you cite. I just haven't found it useful. A lot of it I don't
find particularly interesting. When I read anything with a title like
"Transcodification of the Sign Systems of Puppetry," I want to slit my=20
wrists, or thrust steel needles into my eyes. I try to find evidence of=20
my own experiences in the pages and can't. I don't think this makes me=20
shallow, or stupid, just human. I'm not looking for a rubric, or a
paradigm; I'd settle for a universally accepted vocabulary, the way
that the world of dance uses "pedestrian movement" to mean a specific
thing.

  Most of it, I find, is based on theories and systems that are of
limited use in discussing a particular production at a particular time.=20
I have seen, and been party to, a lot of theatre that was based on
theory. Actual practice has taught me something else.

  Signs, symbols, semiotics or ratios of performers to puppets: I don't=20
think any of that is what happens between any single audience member
and the performance. Never in my experience have I found that an
audience member reacts to the idea represented by the puppet (the
performance object). Instead there is a profound emotional connection
between the puppet and the audience member, a specific reaction, unique=20
to that individual, that time, that performance. I find audiences react=20
to puppets with their hearts and not their heads, no matter how much
the rest of it is analyzed.

That is why I have not found much of the existing writings useful in my=20
own work. While people as far back as Edward Gordon Craig have had a
lot to say about puppetry, I can't see that any of it has been useful
in helping us understand puppetry any more than we did before.

This list recently examined the reviews of Symphonie Fantastique. There=20
was little agreement about HOW the piece should be reviewed, never mind=20
whether it was GOOD. And with nearly 100 years of ideas about puppets,=20
I think we need to do better than that. We are no closer to figuring
out what range of variables should be discussed in a review of a puppet=20
performance, let alone refining those ideas. And that, to me, should be=20
the goal: how do we talk about puppetry, today?

I can't find the answer in anything written to date. The closest, so
far, comes from Will Stackman's recent essay on this list. How about
anyone else? What have YOU found useful to you?




On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, at 01:43 PM, john bell wrote:

> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I'm sorry that Robert has never "encountered writing (critical
> writing) about puppetry that was useful to the artist"!=A0 That's a
> shame!=A0 Right off the bat I would suggest the following:
> 1) Barthes, Roland. "At the Music Hall." In The Eiffel Tower and Other=20
> Mythologies. Translated by Richard Howard, 123-126. New York: Hill and=20
> Wang, 1979.
> 2) ________. "Lesson in Writing." In Image-Music-Text, 170-178. New
> York: Hill and Wang, 1977.
> 3) Bogatyrev, Petr. "A Contribution to the Study of Theatrical Signs:=20
> The Perception of the Signs in Puppet Theater, Theater with Live
> Actors, and Art in General." In The Prague School: Selected Writings,=20
> 1929-1946, ed. Peter Steiner, 55-64. Austin: University of Texas
> Press, 1982.
> 4) _______. "The Interconnection of Two Similar Semiotic Systems: The=20
> Puppet Theater and the Theater of Living Actors." Semiotica 47.1-4
> (1983): 47-68.
> 5) Craig, Edward Gordon. "The Actor and the =DCbermarionette." The Mask
> 1 (1908): 3b-16b.
> 6) ________. On the Art of the Theatre. New York: Theatre Arts Books,=20
> 1980 [1911].
> 7) Honzl, Jindrich. "Ritual and Theater." In The Prague School:
> Selected Writings, 1929-1946, ed. Peter Steiner, 135-173. Austin:
> University of Texas Press, 1982.
> 8) Jurkowski, Henryk. "Transcodification of the Sign Systems of
> Puppetry." Semiotica 47.1-4 (1983): 123-146.
> 9) Kleist, Heinrich von. "On the Marionnette Theatre." Translated by=20
> Amadeo Foresti. The Marionnette 4 (1918): 105-113.
> 10) Proschan, Frank. "The Semiotic Study of Puppets, Masks, and
> Performing Objects." Semiotica 47.1-4 (1983): 3-46.
> 11) Schumann, Peter. "The Radicality of the Puppet Theater." TDR 35.4=20
> (Winter 1991): 75-83.
> 12) Veltrusky, Jiri. "Man and object in the theatre." In A Prague
> School Reader on Esthetics, Literary Structure, and Style, ed. Paul
> Garvin. Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1964.
> 13) ________. "Puppetry and Acting." Semiotica 47.1-4 (1983): 69-122.
>
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I would also suggest the essays by Bogatyrev, Stephen Kaplin,
> and Steve Tillis in Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects, which I
> edited.=A0
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0More: Scott Shershow's Puppets and "Popular" Culture is worth
> looking at; also Tillis's Towards an Aesthetics of the Puppet,
> Laurence Kominz and Mark Levenson's The Language of the Puppet, Dina=20
> and Joel Sherzer's Humor and Comedy in Puppetry, and Michael Meschke's=20
> In Search of Aesthetics for the Puppet Theatre.
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0How about Peter Arnott's Plays Without People?=A0
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0There are a lot of non-English books listed in the
> Bibliographie Internationale de la Marionnette, published by the
> Institut International de la Marionnette, which is admittedly hard to=20
> find!=A0 However, the following seem interesting: Didier Plassard,
> L'Acteur en effigie, Massimo Schuster, Ave marionnette, and Le Theatre=20
> de marionnettes, with articles by Alain Recoing, Emile Copfermann,
> Annie Gilles, Jurkowski, and many others.
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0There are also all sorts of books now about objects and
> performance, such as Susan Stewart's On Longing , and sociological and=20
> anthropological texts about traditional forms of puppet theater on all=20
> continents.
>
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I think there's a lot out there about puppets, because we
> still can't figure them out!=A0 A lot of the above have been useful to=20
> me, especially the Frank Proschan essay (#10 above).=A0=A0=A0
> =A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0
>
> john bell
> great small works
>
>
>
> At 10:22 AM 6/11/03 -0400, you wrote:
>
> Later this month Mum Puppettheatre will perform at the 10th Annual
> International Dance Festival and Conference in Bytom, Poland,=A0 a
> gathering of those who dance, those who make dance, and those who
> write about dance. Past participants have included Mikhail
> Baryshnikov; Anna Kisselgoff, Dance Critic for the New York Times
> comes this year.
>
> In addition to performing we will take part in symposia for students=20
> of dance criticism. We believe that our inclusion in a dance festival=20
> is significant for the world of puppetry, as so far it dance seems to=20
> be the only established art form that is willing to look at puppetry=20
> on its own terms.
>
> This is also significant for Mum Puppettheatre and American puppetry,=20
> as this marks the first time this prestigious festival has included
> puppetry in its offerings, even though Poland has long led the world=20
> in its explorations of puppetry.
>
> I have been asked to contribute examples of writing about the artform=20
> that I have found useful. I've drawn a blank. I'm not sure that I've=20
> ever encountered writing (critical writing) about puppetry that was
> useful to the artist. So, I ask the assembled for their wisdom.
>
> What writing has helped you in your own work? Has there been a piece=20
> of writing specifically aimed at your work that you found useful?
> Graduate students from all over the world will take part in these
> symposia, seeing work at night and writing and discussing it during
> the day. This is a chance to get some thinking done about puppet
> criticism (what an idea for this list!) Historically, dance, more than=20
> any other art form in our time, has really gotten its act together,
> figuring out how to include everyone under the tent, raising the
> profile of the form, creating a core of study that passes academic
> muster. Puppetry can learn a lot from dance.
>
> I'd like to share, possibly, the best of the best with the conference=20
> in Poland. I'd appreciate any assistance or examples you might care to=20
> give.
>
> Thanks for your help.
>
> Robert Smythe
> Artistic Director
> Mum Puppettheatre
> 115 Arch Street
> Philadelphia, PA 19106
> T: 215.925.7686
> F: 215.922.5184
>
> robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org
> http://www.mumpuppet.org
>
>
>
> =A0--- Personal replies to: robert smythe <robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org>
> =A0--- List replies to:=A0=A0=A0=A0 puptcrit-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> =A0--- Admin commands to:=A0=A0 majordomo-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu
> =A0--- Archives at:=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 http://lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons
>
>
Robert Smythe
Artistic Director
Mum Puppettheatre
115 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
T: 215.925.7686
F: 215.922.5184

robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org
http://www.mumpuppet.org

--Apple-Mail-40--257912049
	charset=ISO-8859-1

Hmm. Thanks, John, I knew I could count on your input. I will be sure
to pass your extensive bibliography on to the festival participants in
Poland.


I know you like the idea of discussion, so please take this all in
that spirit.


Don't think me ungrateful if I take the time to explain more carefully
what I find useful, as I have, certainly, encountered a lot of the
writing you cite. I just haven't found it useful. A lot of it I don't
find particularly interesting. When I read anything with a title like
"Transcodification of the Sign Systems of Puppetry," I want to slit my
wrists, or thrust steel needles into my eyes. I try to find evidence
of my own experiences in the pages and can't. I don't think this makes
me shallow, or stupid, just human. I'm not looking for a rubric, or a
paradigm; I'd settle for a universally accepted vocabulary, the way
that the world of dance uses "pedestrian movement" to mean a specific
thing.


 Most of it, I find, is based on theories and systems that are of
limited use in discussing a particular production at a particular
time. I have seen, and been party to, a lot of theatre that was based
on theory. Actual practice has taught me something else.


 Signs, symbols, semiotics or ratios of performers to puppets: I don't
think any of that is what happens between any single audience member
and the performance. Never in my experience have I found that an
audience member reacts to the idea represented by the puppet (the
performance object). Instead there is a profound emotional connection
between the puppet and the audience member, a specific reaction,
unique to that individual, that time, that performance. I find
audiences react to puppets with their hearts and not their heads, no
matter how much the rest of it is analyzed.


That is why I have not found much of the existing writings useful in
my own work. While people as far back as Edward Gordon Craig have had
a lot to say about puppetry, I can't see that any of it has been
useful in helping us understand puppetry any more than we did before.


This list recently examined the reviews of Symphonie Fantastique.
There was little agreement about HOW the piece should be reviewed,
never mind whether it was GOOD. And with nearly 100 years of ideas
about puppets, I think we need to do better than that. We are no
closer to figuring out what range of variables should be discussed in
a review of a puppet performance, let alone refining those ideas. And
that, to me, should be the goal: how do we talk about puppetry, today?=20



I can't find the answer in anything written to date. The closest, so
far, comes from Will Stackman's recent essay on this list. How about
anyone else? What have YOU found useful to you?






On Wednesday, June 11, 2003, at 01:43 PM, john bell wrote:


<excerpt>=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I'm sorry that Robert has never "encountered writing
(critical writing) about puppetry that was useful to the artist"!=A0
That's a shame!=A0 Right off the bat I would suggest the following:

1) Barthes, Roland. "At the Music Hall." In <underline>The Eiffel
Tower and Other Mythologies</underline>. Translated by Richard Howard,
123-126. New York: Hill and Wang, 1979.

2) ________. "Lesson in Writing." In
<underline>Image-Music-Text</underline>, 170-178. New York: Hill and
Wang, 1977.

3) Bogatyrev, Petr. "A Contribution to the Study of Theatrical Signs:
The Perception of the Signs in Puppet Theater, Theater with Live
Actors, and Art in General." In <underline>The Prague School: Selected
Writings, 1929-1946</underline>, ed. Peter Steiner, 55-64. Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1982.

4) _______. "The Interconnection of Two Similar Semiotic Systems: The
Puppet Theater and the Theater of Living Actors."
<underline>Semiotica</underline> 47.1-4 (1983): 47-68.

5) Craig, Edward Gordon. "The Actor and the =DCbermarionette."
<underline>The Mask</underline> 1 (1908): 3b-16b.

6) ________. <underline>On the Art of the Theatre</underline>. New
York: Theatre Arts Books, 1980 [1911].

7) Honzl, Jindrich. "Ritual and Theater." In <underline>The Prague
School: Selected Writings, 1929-1946</underline>, ed. Peter Steiner,
135-173. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1982.

8) Jurkowski, Henryk. "Transcodification of the Sign Systems of
Puppetry." <underline>Semiotica</underline> 47.1-4 (1983): 123-146.

9) Kleist, Heinrich von. "On the Marionnette Theatre." Translated by
Amadeo Foresti. <underline>The Marionnette</underline> 4 (1918):
105-113.

10) Proschan, Frank. "The Semiotic Study of Puppets, Masks, and
Performing Objects." <underline>Semiotica</underline> 47.1-4 (1983):
3-46.

11) Schumann, Peter. "The Radicality of the Puppet Theater."
<underline>TDR</underline> 35.4 (Winter 1991): 75-83.

12) Veltrusky, Jiri. "Man and object in the theatre." In <underline>A
Prague School Reader on Esthetics, Literary Structure, and
Style</underline>, ed. Paul Garvin. Washington: Georgetown University
Press, 1964.

13) ________. "Puppetry and Acting." <underline>Semiotica</underline>
47.1-4 (1983): 69-122.


=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I would also suggest the essays by Bogatyrev, Stephen Kaplin,
and Steve Tillis in <underline>Puppets, Masks, and Performing
Objects</underline>, which I edited.=A0

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0More: Scott Shershow's <underline>Puppets and "Popular"
Culture</underline> is worth looking at; also Tillis's
<underline>Towards an Aesthetics of the Puppet</underline>, Laurence
Kominz and Mark Levenson's <underline>The Language of the
Puppet</underline>, Dina and Joel Sherzer's <underline>Humor and
Comedy in Puppetry</underline>, and Michael Meschke's <underline>In
Search of Aesthetics for the Puppet Theatre</underline>.

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0How about Peter Arnott's <underline>Plays Without
People</underline>?=A0

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0There are a lot of non-English books listed in the
<underline>Bibliographie Internationale de la Marionnette</underline>,
published by the Institut International de la Marionnette, which is
admittedly hard to find!=A0 However, the following seem interesting:
Didier Plassard, <underline>L'Acteur en effigie</underline>, Massimo
Schuster, <underline>Ave marionnette</underline>, and <underline>Le
Theatre de marionnettes</underline>, with articles by Alain Recoing,
Emile Copfermann, Annie Gilles, Jurkowski, and many others.

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0There are also all sorts of books now about objects and
performance, such as Susan Stewart's <underline>On Longing</underline>
, and sociological and anthropological texts about traditional forms
of puppet theater on all continents.


=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0I think there's a lot out there about puppets, because we
still can't figure them out!=A0 A lot of the above have been useful to
me, especially the Frank Proschan essay (#10 above).=A0=A0=A0

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0


john bell

great small works




At 10:22 AM 6/11/03 -0400, you wrote:


Later this month Mum Puppettheatre will perform at the 10th Annual
International Dance Festival and Conference in Bytom, Poland,=A0 a
gathering of those who dance, those who make dance, and those who
write about dance. Past participants have included Mikhail
Baryshnikov; Anna Kisselgoff, Dance Critic for the New York Times
comes this year.


In addition to performing we will take part in symposia for students
of dance criticism. We believe that our inclusion in a dance festival
is significant for the world of puppetry, as so far it dance seems to
be the only established art form that is willing to look at puppetry
on its own terms.


This is also significant for Mum Puppettheatre and American puppetry,
as this marks the first time this prestigious festival has included
puppetry in its offerings, even though Poland has long led the world
in its explorations of puppetry.


I have been asked to contribute examples of writing about the artform
that I have found useful. I've drawn a blank. I'm not sure that I've
ever encountered writing (critical writing) about puppetry that was
useful to the artist. So, I ask the assembled for their wisdom.


What writing has helped you in your own work? Has there been a piece
of writing specifically aimed at your work that you found useful?
Graduate students from all over the world will take part in these
symposia, seeing work at night and writing and discussing it during
the day. This is a chance to get some thinking done about puppet
criticism (what an idea for this list!) Historically, dance, more than
any other art form in our time, has really gotten its act together,
figuring out how to include everyone under the tent, raising the
profile of the form, creating a core of study that passes academic
muster. Puppetry can learn a lot from dance.


I'd like to share, possibly, the best of the best with the conference
in Poland. I'd appreciate any assistance or examples you might care to
give.


Thanks for your help.


Robert Smythe

Artistic Director

Mum Puppettheatre

115 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

T: 215.925.7686

F: 215.922.5184


robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org

<underline><color><param>1999,1999,FFFF</param>http://www.mumpuppet.org




</color></underline>=A0--- Personal replies to: robert smythe
<<robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org>

=A0--- List replies to:=A0=A0=A0=A0 puptcrit-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu

=A0--- Admin commands to:=A0=A0 majordomo-AT-lists.village.virginia.edu

=A0--- Archives at:=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0
<underline><color><param>1999,1999,FFFF</param>http://lists.village.virginia.edu/~spoons</color></underline>



</excerpt>Robert Smythe

Artistic Director

Mum Puppettheatre

115 Arch Street

Philadelphia, PA 19106

T: 215.925.7686

F: 215.922.5184


robertsmythe-AT-mumpuppet.org

http://www.mumpuppet.org


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