The Co-Presence and Ontological Ambiguity of the Puppet

Authored by: Paul Piris

The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  July  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415705400
eBook ISBN: 9781315850115
Adobe ISBN: 9781317911722


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The renewal of puppetry over the past decades is the result of an exploration of the dramaturgical meaning of the animated figure in theatre. Since the 1980s, artists and companies such as Stuffed Puppet Theatre and Duda Paiva in Holland, Ilka Schönbein in Germany, Compagnie Mossoux-Bonté in Belgium, Dondoro Theatre in Japan, Philippe Genty in France, and Blind Summit in Britain have developed an original form of performance where visible manipulators interact with their puppets. As French scholar Didier Plassard (2009)suggests, not only have the puppeteers entered the space of the puppets by stepping out of the puppet booth, but they have also entered their fictional world. In this particular form of performance, a co-presence takes place between the puppeteer and the puppet. This co-presence is particular because it establishes a relation of self to Other between two beings that are ontologically different: one is a subject (in other words, a being endowed with consciousness) and the other one an object (in other words, a thing). Yet, the particularity of the puppet is to present an ontological ambiguity because it is an object that appears in performance as a subject. Co-presence stresses this ontological ambiguity by confronting the puppet with a human protagonist.

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