Sunday, August 31, 2008
Where have all the puppets gone?
Puppetry has had it rough over the last fifteen years or so. Puppets could once be seen in prime-time TV shows, films, and touring companies around the country. Now puppetry has all but disappeared from the cultural landscape. Perhaps the worst part is that no one even talks about this phenomenon, like it's not even worthy of discussion.
But here is a great article about the state of puppetry called Pulling the Strings, from the Canadian website the National Post. While the contention that puppetry is now "enjoying a renaissance" seems a bit optimistic (maybe in Canada it is!) -- nonetheless it offers a very insightful analysis of the forces working for and against puppetry, the most recent being CGI animation, which has all but displaced puppetry in feature films.
Read the full article here.
It's sad to think that after all these years, and the amazing work pioneered by Jim Henson and others, that puppetry hasn't made greater strides as a cultural force in this country. I think one reason is that puppetry is really hard to do well, a fact which no one seems to take seriously. And when someone sees a bad puppet performance, they blame the medium rather than the performer. And the perception that puppets are only for children is sadly entrenched in this country. There is hope, though, as the internet is bringing together puppet enthusiasts and giving them an audience. (I will include some puppetry links in a future post.)
By the way, the photo in the article (and above) is from the amazing Frogtown Mountain Puppeteers, in Maine.