Wednesday, 27 August 2014

puppetry and politics

YES it is election year in New Zealand and this September the country can decide the future course of our beloved islands. Thought it is therefore very appropriate to weave it into my blog.

For a lot of people there are only questions marks having those two p words together. Though there is a long history of this partnership. It is not only and all about entertaining when it comes to puppets, there can be clear political messages too. Early on Puppeteers travelled from town to town and were the bringer of news, in times when newspapers did not exist, not to mention radio, tv, phone or internet. Reading up on the history of our profession there are many instances that puppeteers were thrown out of town for political engagement. During the second world war puppeteers were used to entertain troops with clear political guidelines of what to perform, at least on the German side. I have a number of scripts from those days that make your hair stand on end.

Does it exist today you may ask, certainly it does. I was drawn to it by an article in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on humour in Syria where it mentioned Masasitmati. Curious about it, you tube gave me the answer with some very exciting clips. Hand puppets as a caricature of political actors with funny dialogues. Half will have past me by not knowing the political situation there to any deep extend. Though there it was political theatre with puppets no doubt hilarious for an insider.

Today the Bread and Puppet Theatre in the USA is widely known for using the art to spread a political message. Peter Schumann, its founder, had a clear vision and saw the poverty and  abuse of power and what and exciting medium to get the message across. Check the internet there are numerous entries and you tube clips, its very interesting

Here in New Zealand it was Red Mole who used theatre, puppetry, masks and performing arts to great effect. They toured New Zealand extensively and worked in New York. Sadly Sally Rodwell and Alan Brunton are not among us any more but their legacy lives on with all the people that worked with them over the years.

Spitting Image is a British satirical puppet show of the 80s and 90s. It won Bafta and Emmy awards and I still remember scenes from those days about Thatcher and Ronald Regan. It found many copycats around the world, among them one here in New Zealand. 


PLEASE EXPLORE!!!!! and create your own show, the world needs it!

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