The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance offers a wide-ranging
perspective on how scholars and artists are currently re-evaluating the theoretical, historical,
and theatrical significance of performance that embraces the agency of inanimate objects.
This book proposes a collaborative, responsive model for broader artistic engagement in and
with the material world. Its 28 chapters aim to advance the study of the puppet not only as a
theatrical object but also as a vibrant artistic and scholarly discipline.
This Companion looks at puppetry and material performance from six perspectives: theoretical
approaches to the puppet, perspectives from practitioners, revisiting history, negotiating tradition,
material performances in contemporary theatre, and hybrid forms. Its wide range of topics, which
span 15 countries over five continents, encompasses:
· visual dramaturgy
· theatrical juxtapositions of robots and humans
· contemporary transformations of Indonesian wayang kulit
· Japanese ritual body substitutes
· recent European productions featuring toys, clay, and food.
The book features newly commissioned essays by leading scholars such as Matthew Isaac
Cohen, Kathy Foley, Jane Marie Law, Eleanor Margolies, Cody Poulton, and Jane Taylor.
It also celebrates the vital link between puppetry as a discipline and as a creative practice
with chapters by active practitioners, including Handspring Puppet Company’s Basil Jones,
Redmoon’s Jim Lasko, and Bread and Puppet’s Peter Schumann. Fully illustrated with more
than 60 images, this volume comprises the most expansive English-language collection of
international puppetry scholarship to date.
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Dassia N. Posner is Associate Professor of Theatre at Northwestern University. She is author of The Director's Prism: E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Russian Theatrical Avant-Garde (2016), which analyzes the directing innovations of Meyerhold, Tairov, and Eisenstein, and the dramaturgical translator for Tracy Letts's version of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters (2016).
Claudia Orenstein is Professor of Theatre at Hunter College and the Graduate Center at CUNY. Publications include The World of Theatre: Tradition and Innovation, and Festive Revolutions: The Politics of Popular Theatre and the San Francisco Mime Troupe. She is a board member of UNIMA-USA and Associate Editor of Asian Theatre Journal.
John Bell is Director of the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut. An active puppeteer with Great Small Works and Bread & Puppet Theater, as well as a theatre historian, his publications include American Puppet Modernism (2008) and Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects (2001).
"The duality of the puppet--which oscillates between a vibrant being and inanimate object--has afforded theater artists and scholars a rich legacy of philosophical criticism and commentary. Adding to this scholarship, Bell (Univ. of Connecticut), Orenstein (Hunter, CUNY), and Posner (Northwestern) have assembled 28 essays written by noted scholars, theorists, and performers (some contributors fulfilling several roles) to reexamine traditional definitions of puppetry in light of contemporary performance... The essays examine puppetry practices of 15 countries and include 66 illustrations in all, making this volume a significant corpus of new English language puppetry scholarship...Summing Up: Recommended."
- R. A. Naversen, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, CHOICE
Praise for The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance
"This is a marvelous collection of essays testifying to the growing importance and richness of historical, critical and theoretical writings being produced today on the fascinating world of puppets and performing objects."
-- Marvin Carlson (Graduate Center, City University of New York)
"The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance is a landmark in puppetry studies. Its collection of articles is remarkably wide-ranging and up to date, with writing that is scholarly but uniformly accessible to any reader with an interest in puppetry. It is an essential book."
-- Steve Tillis (St. Mary’s College of California)
"This is a much awaited book that guides the reader intelligently and engagingly through the recent discourse on puppetry and material performance with its myriad of new terms. Comprehensive in its reach, the book includes investigations into the traditional, modern and hybrid manifestations of performing objects as well as analyses from philosophical and practice-based perspectives."
-- Mari Boyd (Sophia University, Tokyo)
"The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance features a lively range of approaches to puppetry in theory and practice. It will be an indispensable resource for material performance studies."
-- Andrew Sofer (Boston College)
"This Companion gives platform to the thinkers of our day in their search for an articulation to our truly unruly art form. The vitality audiences have seen on our puppet stages in the recent decades is dynamically revealed here in vibrant thought and discourse."
-- Blair Thomas (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
"I cannot speak highly enough of this book. Not only does it bring extra rigour to the study and analysis of its subject, but it also manages to be an enjoyable read."
-- Penny Francis (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London)
"This is a brilliantly conceived, meticulously edited volume that could easily become the cornerstone of an entire course of study (either undergraduate or graduate) and a foundation text for the entire field."
-- Bradford Clark (Bowling Green State University)
"From wayang to War Horse, the chapters in this collection provide evocative theories, history, and accounts of practice surrounding puppetry and object performance around the world. It is impossible to deny the ever-growing popularity of puppetry, and this book offers a much-needed overview and provides an excellent springboard for further study and research. Every theatre scholar and practitioner should get a copy!"
-- Jennifer Goodlander (Indiana University)
The editors have succeeded in making a case for the field of material performance to be considered alongside other performance fields... This collection proves that not only is puppetry ubiquitous in our material world, but that there is invigorating material performance work happening today that merits discussion.
-HEATHER DENYER The Graduate Center/CUNY, Theatre Journal
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