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Traditions of folk drama exist throughout the world, ranging from simple forms that involve few people, rudimentary texts, and crude performance practices, to complex forms involving entire towns, highly elaborated texts, and performance practices that have developed over hundreds of years. Yet folk drama lacks, to this day, a full-length study from the perspectives of either folkloristics or drama studies. This work seeks to fill that lack by undertaking a bi-disciplinary study of the idea of folk drama, drawing on examples from around the world, including Yangge (China), Ta'ziyeh (Iran), Bhavai (India), Karagoz (Turkey), Apidan (Nigeria), and the Mummers' Play (England). It examines the meanings of "folk" and "drama," the significance of ritual and performance in folk drama, the frequently encountered problem of Eurocentric bias, the conventional tripartite division of drama into elite, popular, and folk categories, the need for a methodology capable of describing all aspects of folk drama performance, and the taxonomic place of folk drama in both folkloristics and drama studies. On the basis of this examination, Rethinking Folk Drama establishes a new basis for understanding the ubiquity and variety of folk drama.
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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