Precarious subjects, liminal spaces – an enquiry into Puppetry.

This year I have begun the process of studying for a Masters Degree in Theatre Performance – my enquiry is titled ‘Transgressive Infants, precarious subjects – playing the anthropomorphic instinct in adult puppet theatre‘.This blog will be an attempt in some way to share my thoughts, reflections and process, provoke a wider conversation and invite  the insights, opinions and experiences of others.

I have arrived at Puppetry after many years performing as a singer in experimental music-based theatre, as a visual artist fascinated by the human form and writer. Puppetry seems like the logical place of convergence for all these creative expressions.

Puppetry is not simple – in beginning the process of research and writing on the psychological, cultural and dramatic meanings of puppetry I have found myself in strange and beguiling territory. Definitions slip just out of reach, meanings are multiple and the line between what is animate and what is inanimate seems at times, disquieting permeable. American academic Kenneth Gross in his wonderful essay ‘The Madness of Puppets‘ says;

‘Puppet theatre is a highly refined art, but depends on something like a child’s, a clown’s, or a mad person’s relation to objects…They are dead things that belong to a different kind of life.”

Why Puppets?

I make puppets because I am compelled by their ability to express the sublime and the grotesque. Puppetry can say the unsayable, explore unexpected places of beauty and disquiet. It is a precarious medium that invites risk and absurdity in equal parts.

Puppetry is visual poetry, a quiet song in the dark.

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One thought on “Precarious subjects, liminal spaces – an enquiry into Puppetry.

  1. What a rich and delectable feast of thoughts and images dear Rach… I will definitely come back to savour again..

    and while I was reading I was reminded that I had wanted to tell you the wonderful quote of Mirka Mora’s in ‘Love and Clutter’ (penguin 2003)..she is speaking of her ‘clutter’ but i am wondering if it is it that puppet can be a thing a clutter ,amorphous and ambiguous, like a doll in the steiner tradition ( a square of cloth, like a handkerchief, with a thimble of stuffing placed in the centre so that the corners hang down from the sphere)and the threads that give it life are the associations it engenders?? So what then is its form …could it even be the play of light??

    From her preamble…”Some people are disturbed by the energy of the assemblage of things in my house. Some people bathe in it of course, and some get puzzled. But I always hope that those who are not disturbed will go home and unleash all their hidden treasures from the cupboards and start to have a dialogue with their memories. It is life who demands this. We have to ponder so many things endlessly. C’est la force des choses – it is the power of things who make us take note, stop or run.”

    Isn’t that french phrase delicious …it is probably why that brown doll with the blue hair is not leaving my room and even climbs under the covers
    thanks for your research …I am starting to really believe that things we do for ourselves are actually not just for ourselves ….I can ride on your enquiry…big hug

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