Puppets, Gender, Race and Identity

Sunday 10:45-12:15 PMwith Alisso Mello

This symposium seeks to broaden the way we as practitioners and scholars think about and use puppetry in our work. Puppet, object and material theatre offer stereotypical and unexamined re-presentations of gender and race narratives, and the opportunity to challenge and re-evaluate these same representations. Further, the body of the puppet, while scrutinized as a semiotically charged performance object, has not been widely evaluated as a gendered or racialized object. Yet, the puppet body is significant in that it materializes society’s myths about itself and about its relationships. Through short presentation of current work, research and discussion we will explore questions related to gendered and racialized: practices, politics, performativity, gaze, representation and subversion, and relationships between puppets and puppeteers. Asking: How do gender and identity issues inform puppetry performance and how do critical models in gender theory offer ways of understanding it?  Does puppetry provide a place to hide or a place from which to come out?  How might the history of puppetry be re-examined to reflect its inclusion or exclusion of marginalized groups?

The goal is to provoke new research and thinking about how and why we make  gendered and racial choices of/for characters on stage.