Handspring: some thoughts on puppetry

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The Handspring Puppets at the Fabricate exhibition.

“Puppets help to acknowledge that our former conception of humanity is too limited.” This statement, uttered by Basil Jones, is the radical thesis on the future of puppetry and why puppets are important in the discussions held about theatre’s relevance and relationship to its audience. Basil Jones is one half of the Handspring Puppet Company – the other half being Adrian Kohler. The two presented an exciting and innovative talk (much like their artistic pieces) on the “powerful prosthesis” that puppetry can be for humans.

Jones also spoke of the self an area – a space consisting of matter which is modified and moved forward. “Puppets destabilise the neat binaries of matter’s passivity and human exceptionalism,” continued Jones. Jones drew on the work of Leopold Senghor when stating that “with puppetry the deterministic universe gives way to magic”.

By emphasising the materiality of puppet actors and protagonists (such as in War Horse) Jones argues that one can move beyond the world of material things.

For more information on the idea of post-humanity and the Handspring Puppet Company, follow these links:

Ted talk on the genius of War Horse



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