Puppetry- an art

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Puppetry- an art

The true definition of a puppet is any inanimate figure controlled by human agency. There are, of course, different kinds of puppets, ranging from very simple glove puppets to elaborately finished marionettes.

Puppetry has passed through many phases of historic progression, since the earliest known Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations.

The hand puppet, also known as the glove puppet , is very easily operated. The head and hands of these puppets are solid, and are usually made of wood or paper mache. The head and the hands are attached to a loose fitting garment, and into this the manipulator inserts his own hand, usually with the forefinger in the head, and the second finger and thumb in the arms. Standing behind a screen, above which the puppets are shown, the manipulator can produce many plays or comedies, to which these puppets are especially suited. Punch and Judy shows, beloved of all children are excellent examples of this type of puppetry. Children show a great interest in these hand puppets, and like to make them for themselves, and nowadays many schools teach puppetry. The children produce excellent work, and perform their own shows and plays.

Similar to hand puppets are rod puppets. These are larger, and are controlled from below the stage by a thick rod, with lighter rods to the arms. Rod puppets are little known in this country but are capable of many graceful actions.

Shadow puppets are very seldom but are very popular in East, especially in China and Java. Flat figures are held in front of a strong light, so that their shadows are thrown on to a translucent screen, and many amusing and tragic scenes can thus be enacted.

The most popular contemporary puppets are marionettes, which offer tremendous scope to the person who is quick and nimble with his fingers. They are much more complex, being fully articulated in their make-up, and have joints which are controlled by strings from above. Usually there are nine strings, of which two are fixed to the shoulders, two to the head, one to each leg and arm, and one to the small of the back, but this may vary between different types. The operator thus has complete control of all movements of the marionettes, as these strings are attached to a control which the manipulator holds. Full-scale pays may be produced, and with dialogue or music “offstage” they can be most realistic. The dresses and costumes of the dolls are very important, and the split second timing of the actions, which can only be acquired after practice, contribute largely to the success of the show.

In toy theatres, the simplest form of puppetry, flat cardboard figures are used. The actual characters and scenes from successful plays, copied carefully from the original, are sometimes brought to life in miniature.

The history of puppets and marionettes is interesting. Puppet shows were popular in the earliest Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations, when they were essentially an entertainment for the common people, presenting fables and legends. Much later, wandering showmen brought puppets to Europe, with the Italian hero Pulcinella representing in England the medieval Fool, and Vice of Morality Plays. The Punch and Judy shows were evolved around 1800. During ancient times, like in India, it was a occupation of many people, especially in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, to roam with puppets and display the characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata , which are epic volumes of ancient India contributed to Hindus. These puppets were also used to depict the valor, patriotism and morality of heroic characters like Rana Pratap. They were used to fill the feeling of courage and hard work in the minds of people.

From time to time, puppets have been very much in vogue. In the 16th century, many Italian princes had puppet theatres, at their courts, and two centuries later, Haydn was commissioned by Prince Esterhazy to write operettas for his marionette theatre. In the 17th century, Powell’s puppet theatre in Covent Garden, and Lord Barrymore’s in Saville Row were fashionable and very popular. It is sad to note that by the end of the 19th century, puppets had evolved into Music Hall turns, but interest in this fascinating and satisfying art is now rapidly being revived.

Modern interest in puppetry can be broadly divided. In the first place, puppetry may be practiced for pleasure only, both that of the audience and the puppeteer. Secondly, the art may be practiced as a commercial venture, which makes it none the less pleasurable.

It must be appreciated that puppetry is essentially a craft that reflects the character of the individual, both in the manufacture of the puppets themselves and in their manipulation , and this is especially true if the puppeteer also writes his own play scripts, which is often the usual thing to do. There is much to be derived from puppetry, whatever level it is practiced on, and it is a pastime that shows a good dividend of pleasure for the time and cost of the materials expended.

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Posted by: nishantbhatt1611 Posts: (9) Opinions: (81) Points: 1,185 Rank: 68
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