What part does puppetry play in the future of theatre?

Rebekah Caputo, 5 October 2012

This is a broad question, and not one I really intended to answer. I more wanted to provoke converstion about puppetry. Which I did.

A primary focal point seemed to be the relationship of puppeteer and puppet and puppeteer as performer. A subject that I continually swing my point of view.

Should a puppeteer be veiled?
Do we want to see the puppeteers express emotion?
Can a performance space be shared by performers and puppets?

This leads on to a much broader question, what do our audiences want to see and should we make work to please an audience?

It seemed a majority of the group were facintated by the art form and really did want to see the puppeteers. They want to see the secrets, the skill, the struggle of projecting emotion and intention through an object.

I guess this is the soul of puppetry, that magic projection from puppeteer to puppet, and this audience want to see that. It is this suspention of disbelief that audiences buy into and why they attend puppet shows. There is also a return to being a child, when we would play with toys like puppets and is it this return that makes it so popular?

We discussed the current popularity of puppetry. Whether it is five meter tall puppets walking the street of liverpool or horses on the west end, has puppetry become a spectacle, a gimmic to wow and delight rather than challenge?

This lead on to common misconceptions of puppetry. Is it just for children? Is all adult puppetry rude? Why do these misconceptions exist and how can we change them?

There seemed to be an over riding feeling of technique versus use. As puppetry becomes more popular and used within interdisciplinary productions is the skill level being negated. I fear yes. But like any art form in order for it to progress it needs to be experiemnted with. I know the first puppetry I performed was basic and crass but this lead on to a facination, a desire to train and ulitmately become a skillful puppeteer. In order for this art to continue to live, young performs need to experiment even if it has poor results.

So the conversation seemed to just pose more questions. But I think that is ok.


audience, interdisciplinary, puppetry, Audience