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  • Buthaina Bandora

    Buthaina Bandora asked in Performing Arts 13th Dec '12:

    In real life, body language and facial expressions are very important factors in communication. With puppets; which mostly have fixed facial expressions, and exaggerated body language, what DO YOU BELIEVE makes a PUPPET so effective in delivering humane emotions? What makes a puppet able to entertain even grownups into believing and interacting with it as if it was alive, when performing on stage.

    Gary Friedman replied 4th Feb '13:

    The magic function of the inanimate object

    The infusion of a magical or supernatural element into non-living objects is not new in human history. Part of the belief system of primitive man is that there is a live being within both animate and inanimate things.

    The global belief in a concept, no matter how extraordinary it might be, gives it immense power. When all the children in the world stood up and shouted "We believe in fairies" in the Peter Pan story, the life of Tinkerbell was saved.

    The power of the puppet triggers something primordial in an audience. Not being ‘human’, the puppet is one step removed from the real world. It can suspend the audiences’ disbelief for a while and get them enticed into a magical world where anything can happen, as long as the metaphor is believable to the audience. 

    We need to remind ourselves often that the word, "to animate" does not mean "to make move", but rather it means "to give soul to", from the Latin word "anima". To breathe soul into an object does not mean making a perfect copy of it. The puppeteer makes us believe that any object he touches is alive, and contains a living soul. The puppet may be the product of the imagination of the person who made it, but once brought to life, it exists in its own right.

    The infusion of a magical or supernatural element into non-living objects is not new in human history. Part of the belief system of primitive man is that there is a live being within both animate and inanimate things.

    In terms of the puppeteer, the relationship between the object and the life it develops through animation is akin to the relationship between the concrete idea and the abstraction. The additional element that is native to puppet drama is the strong psychological connection between the animated object and the puppeteer.

    The power of the puppet is the power to immediately connect with an audience. It provides a way for connection that is direct because it travels indirectly, within the human understanding that is universal.

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