File spoon-archives/puptcrit.archive/puptcrit_2003/puptcrit.0306, message 17

Date: Wed, 11 Jun 2003 17:17:22 -0400
Subject: Re: PUPT: Puppet Criticism Again: A Call for Ideas!

         So, in June of 2003, at this quite delicate and particular moment 
in the history of the world, when our country is the most potent, 
unpredictable, and--for many--fearsome force on the planet, the United 
States will be represented in symposia for students of dance criticism at 
the 10th Annual International Dance Festival and Conference in Bytom, 
Poland by an American who feels that the combined efforts of scores of 
European and American minds over the entire course of the twentieth century 
(some of them great minds) are, as a whole, neither "useful" nor 
         I'm not sure if this is incredibly amusing or tragic, and opt for 
the funny side.
         I very much hope that when Robert Smythe explains his point of 
view to those assembled at the conference, he takes care to note that he 
does not represent us all.  The United States has such a rotten reputation 
in the world just now, and I think we need to be very careful about how we 
articulate ourselves abroad, where any American becomes a de facto 
representative of our country.  As a nation, we have of late been scaring 
the rest of the world with our passionate certitudes.
         Perhaps in Poland Mr. Smythe can search out Professor Henryk 
Jurkowski, a great thinker about puppet theater who might have helpful 
advice about the "uselessness" of all previously written criticism and 
theory.  If such an encounter happens, I would respectfully suggest that 
Robert avoid starting off with the kind of sweeping ad hoc denunciations he 
has lately articulated here.  Certainly Poland has one of the most amazing 
traditions of puppet theater in the world, and I trust that Robert will 
approach the land of Kantor, Wyspianski, Witkiewicz, Leon Schiller, 
Grotowski, and all the great Polish puppeteers with interest and respect.
         Finally, since Robert has apparently digested all the salient 
aspects of puppet theory and criticism and found them to be totally without 
value, I hope that he will soon enlighten the rest of us with his own 
criticism and theory, which I look forward to reading.

john bell
great small works


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