Societies around the world have their puppet traditions and
puppetry remains a vital theatrical art; yet puppetry has received
little attention in the theoretical study of theatre. The present
study offers an aesthetic theory and vocabulary for practitioners,
critics, and audiences to utilize in creating, evaluating, viewing,
and describing the age-old, yet ever-new art of the puppet.
Asserting that no satisfactory theory or descriptive vocabulary
has yet been advanced for the theatrical puppet, Steve Tillis seeks
the underlying principles through observation and analysis of
puppetry in all its manifestations. He considers the disparate
range of puppet performance and puppet construction to determine
what is constant and what is variable and explores such theoretical
problems as how a puppet is to be defined; how its appeal is to be
explained, and how its performance is to be described. Reviewing
standard responses to these problems in a thorough survey of the
literature on puppetry, he then offers new solutions. In an
interesting coda, Tillis discusses the power of the puppet as a
metaphor of humanity and a term applied to particular people. This
is an essential text not only for college puppetry courses but also
for all serious puppet artists, as well as scholars and researchers
in performance theory and practice, and more general audiences.
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