File spoon-archives/puptcrit.archive/puptcrit_2003/puptcrit.0306, message 26


Date: Fri, 13 Jun 2003 13:46:38 -0400
Subject: Re: PUPT: Puppet Criticism Again: A Call for Ideas!


Dear John Bell,
The organizer of the symposium at the International Dance Festival and 
Conference in Poland has specifically asked critics to provide examples 
of writing they have found useful, and that artists do the same. I have 
assumed the idea is that critics and artists will find different things 
useful.

It is clear from what you post to this list that you are a critic as 
well as an artist. While I expect that we have different ideas about 
what constitutes "useful," I resist the idea that acceptance of a 
certain canon of writing about puppetry is a requirement for either 
critics or artists.
I am somewhat amazed, if I infer correctly, that you believe that 
puppeteers have all the thinking, writing, criticism and theory we 
need. I respectfully disagree, if only because these ideas do not speak 
to me, and how I view my work or the work of other puppeteers. I need 
more than I have found on those pages.

Going to this symposium is important to me because I'd like to find out 
if artists and critics who work in dance, a field that has far more 
written about it than puppetry does, feel the same way about what is 
written about their work and their artform. I think this will be an 
interesting discussion. Although I realize that others at the symposium 
may have opinions different from mine, I don't think that I'll be told 
I'm wrong for holding them.

In the meantime, for the record, Iíll say that the works of Jacques 
LeCoq and Etienne Decroux have always been very useful to me, as they 
tend to broaden oneís approach to theatre. LeCoq, especially, with his 
focus on the use of masks and movement in performance and in the 
creation of new work, is particularly relevant to puppetry. I have also 
found the writings of the Nobel Laureate physicist Richard Feynman, 
particularly his series of CalTech lectures (collected as "The Meaning 
of it All") to be inspiring as well as useful.

I think the ideas of Eric Bass and Jean Claude LaPortier will form the 
nucleus for a method of understanding and writing about puppet 
performance just as important as the studies and theories of semiotics, 
symbolism and signs you cite in your very useful bibliography.

Robert Smythe


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