Freshly arrived in our library: Puppetry international!
‘Puppetry international’. The puppet in contemporary theatre, film and media as it is called in full, is the journal of the US centre of UNIMA. Addressing all with an interest in theatre, art and culture, it’s purpose is to inform it’s readers with regard to puppet theatre in all its varied forms. The next issue will be published in spring of this year and will be dedicated to puppet theatre collections and collectors. There will also be an article about our collection. Reason enough to introduce ‘Puppetry international’.
A magazine that wants to redefine puppet theatre …
‘Puppetry international’ was launched in 1994 and since then 48 issues have been published; at it’s beginning it was an annual publication, then from 1999 onwards it was published twice per year. As a publication of the UNIMA Centre USA, which is one of over 80 countries belonging to the international puppet theatre organisation UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette), the magazine stands within a series of publications of other UNIMA country bodies. These include ‘Das andere Theater’ – DaT (UNIMA Centre Germany), ‘Mamulengo’ (UNIMA Centre Brazil) and ‘Nihon-ningyōgeki-nenkan’ (UNIMA Centre Japan). Advised by puppet theatre experts from the beginning, the journal is one of the few in the USA to publish peer-reviewed articles on puppet theatre, as stated in issue 33. The issues, whose contributions are enriched by many illustrations, usually have a thematic focus.
In the editorial of the first issue, Andrew Periale, who is still editor of the magazine, states what puppetry seeks to achieve internationally. Periale writes that the publication should contribute to redefining “puppet theatre”. Adding with a wink: “so that the term does not just conjure up images of stuffed rabbits at children’s birthday parties.” Dassia N. Posner, peer-review editor of the journal, wrote in issue 35 what the intention of the peer-reviewed articles was. They explored how the puppet functions dramatically; examined the philosophical questions that puppets raise, and traced the importance of puppet theatre in performance based culture worldwide.
… and sees the play with puppets as an integral part of performance based art and culture
The journal fulfils its wish to develop a new understanding of puppet theatre with contributions that demonstrate the multifaceted nature and richness of the objects of puppet theatre and the puppet itself. A glance at the selection of topics in the journals makes this clear. Forms of play such as: shadow theatre and hand puppet theatre are discussed (Art in the shadows, issue 26, Talk to the hand!, issue 48), the physical manifestations of the puppet (In search of the world’s smallest puppetry, issue 21, Materials: the stuff of puppetry, issue 39), “building blocks” of puppetry such as the voice and the text (Puppets and the voice, issue 23, The script, issue 20) and various functions of the puppet (Puppetry in education, issue 42, Puppets and therapy, issue 43). Also discussed are the pioneers of puppet theatre (Women, issue 16), the theatre puppet in opera (Puppetry & Opera, issue 12) and as a means of propaganda (Propaganda, issue 9) as well as the relationship between puppeteer, actor and puppet (When flesh meets wood, issue 33).
The focus is on puppet theatre worldwide and in the broader sense, as shown by thematic issues on puppet theatre in Africa and China; technology and film (Africa, issue 41, Chinese puppetry, issue 35, Technology and performance, issue 8, Television, issue 10). The range of topics meets the journal’s claim to see puppet theatre not as something ‘other’ but as an essential component of the performance arts, as Periale puts it in the publication’s first editorial.
In addition to articles devoted to the main themes, Puppetry international also publishes reviews of books and films devoted to puppet theatre and articles on the history of puppet theatre.
A welcome addition to our museum library
Our museum library lists more than two dozen periodicals with a focus on puppet theatre. Among them are academic and popular journals, recent and historic journals, magazines devoted to particular branches of puppet theatre, and papers in Portuguese, Spanish and Dutch. Just a small glimpse for example: there is ‘denkste: puppe’, a journal published since 2017 that discusses puppets from a scholarly perspective, and ‘Das Puppentheater’, a magazine published from 1923 to 1931 that was dedicated to the interests of puppeteers. Also ‘Double’, a journal published since 2004 that reflects contemporary theatre with puppets, figures and objects, and ‘Loutkář. Měsíčník pro studium a povzneseni českého loutkářstvi’, a journal whose first issue came out as early as 1914 and focused on Czech puppet theatre. These are just part of the collection. In addition, our catalogue lists ‘Das Papiertheater’ and ‘Die Pritsche’, two journals that are or were dedicated to special forms of puppet theatre, namely paper theatre and hand puppet theatre.
With its look at puppet theatre in the USA and on the world stage together with its large variety of topics, Puppetry international is a welcome addition to our museum library.