I called this session because a couple of months ago I attended a puppet conference where I heard a quite important puppeteer, director of a puppetry department at a university say: “We should do puppetry because we are puppeteers, because it is what we like. We should just keep on doing puppetry for puppetry's sake”. I was shocked by this statement; as a fellow puppeteer, I love watching and being involved in puppet shows, but I think the use of puppets should always be justified and contribute something to the piece that is being made. I wondered if others felt the same.

We talked about the use of puppets depending on what story we want to tell. Asking ourselves the question: are puppets the best way to tell this story? And, what kind of puppets would work best?

Puppets should always be fulfilling a need.

We said there might be two distinct starting points:

-If you start with the puppets, you can let the story emerge. Take advantage of the fact that puppets have their own personalities/voices, and let a story or performance come from them.

-If you start with a story, you should let the form emerge from that. It might be harder to use puppets if this is the case, but if the story/performance calls for them, then by all means use them!

We wondered if we'll get to a point when people won't consider to include puppets in performance and said that that is unlikely. Puppets are a good solution to a lot of practicality problems (such as number of performers required and special effects), and also provide a different level of intimacy to performances. Sometimes it is easier to relate to them because they are not human, and we talked about examples where it would actually have been harder to convey certain narratives with human actors. There is a point in having puppets.

We said that the importance of the medium might get lost because of overexcitement of wanting to use the form. But again we should always question whether the character needs the puppet. We said that we shouldn't include puppets for us, but for the audience.

You can always keep the use of puppets in mind, and let it emerge organically. Puppets can help simplify what you are trying to communicate, and particularly in puppetry the audience seems to be highly important, due to the subtlety inherent in puppetry.

We discussed that there isn't really a formula that works best for certain things, but if you have a message and audience in mind, you can figure out what works best - even if that transgresses pre-established ideas or gets you out of your comfort zone. This promotes the diversification of puppetry: we can begin doing mash-ups/hybrids, as has been happening now when combining puppetry and animation.

We talked about feeling like marionette theatre is stuck and wondered if this had to do with training. Perhaps this is part of a cycle where there are few jobs available and so not a lot of people train in it. We also wondered if there should be other types of training available that would encourage more experimentation to find new uses for puppetry.

Finally, we talked about how necessity is driving theatre makers to puppetry, as companies that don't necessarily have a “specialist” in puppetry begin using it to fulfill certain needs.

In the end we all agreed puppetry should always keep the audience in mind and have a point for being incorporated into any kind of performance.