Diversity of playing techniques in puppet theatre.
How often are we being asked; what puppets do you use? Theatre puppets or marionettes? Like the Augsburger Puppenkiste? Is that even possible, puppet theatre for adults? Sometimes our audiences also say: Only marionettes are real theatre puppets! As early as 1975 puppeteer Peter Steinmann from Berlin started collecting: Playing techniques, construction hints, types of stages, building and construction tips. Including all this information from old and newer journals, from his colleagues and of course from his own work, a 216 page book was created in 1980, containing over 65 playing techniques, 72 different practical hinge connections, 19 stage types… These details come to inspire the multifaceted practitioner to create his own solutions, to new and stable constructions, to theatre puppets that could be played multiple times. His manual was an inventory of the explosive creativity of puppeteers of decades past, mostly after 1947: Puppet theatre diversity was initially being displayed for the first time with many sketches and drawings for amateurs and professionals. Do you know what a humanette, a bunraku puppet, a walking puppet, a backpack puppet or folding metamorphosis …is?
And today? This evolution has come far, to the point that the creation of such a manual would be nearly impossible today. Today one is better of writing monographies about marionettes, dramaturgy, table theatre, puppets, the theatre puppet in shadow theatre, in the digital media … object theatre, material theatre, paper theatre, trick films, animation and performance … in the Figurentheater Lübeck a number of these have already been shown since 2007! And also, our future repertoire shall include this diversity every once in a while! Variety makes for diversion!
Sometimes marionette carvers still exchange one or two brand new, very special lacing techniques with a wink. But we keep that to ourselves…
Some playing techniques in puppet theatre
From P.K. Steinmann: Theatre puppets — a manual in pictures, puppets &masks, Frankfurt am Main 1980