American Puppetry

Collections, History and Performance

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About the Book

Puppetry has become a significant force in contemporary theatre and thousands of puppets from various cultures and time periods have been collected by scholars, enthusiasts, and curators, who wisely realized that these material images can teach us much about the societies for which they were created. This book consists of essays by the curators of the most significant puppet collections in the United States and by leading scholars in the field. In addition to the descriptive and analytical essays on the collections, the book includes an overview of American puppetry today, a history of puppetry in the United States, and essays on the theater of Julie Taymor, the Jim Henson Company, Howdy Doody’s custody case, puppet conservation, and the development of virtual performance space.
The fourteen collections discussed include those of the Smithsonian Institution, the Harvard University Theatre Collection, the Brander Matthews Collection at Columbia University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. Appendices provide a listing of additional puppetry collections and a filmography of puppetry at the New York Public Library Donnell Media Center. The work concludes with a bibliography and index and is illustrated with many beautiful photographs of puppeteers and puppets on display and in performance.

About the Author(s)

Phyllis T. Dircks is a professor of English at Long Island University in Greenvale, New York. A specialist in contemporary American drama, she lives in Huntington, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Phyllis T. Dircks
Foreword by Steve Abrams
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 334
Bibliographic Info: 58 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1896-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword      1

Introduction      3

PART I. AMERICAN PUPPETRY TODAY AND YESTERDAY

A Snapshot of Puppeteers of the United States and Canada      9

A Short View of American Puppetry      22

PART II. SIGNIFICANT COLLECTIONS

Puppetry and Related Materials in the Harvard Theatre Collection      39

Asian Puppets at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History      58

The Center for Puppetry Arts Museum Collection      73

The Bread & Puppet Theater Company Collection      87

Puppets and “The Iconography of Drama”: The Brander

Matthews Collection at Columbia University      105

The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry Collection      118

Paul McPharlin and Puppetry at the Detroit Institute of Arts      128

The Bil Baird World of Puppets at the Charles H. MacNider Museum      143

The Puppet Collection of the American Museum of Natural History      155

The Burr Tillstrom Collection and Archives at the Chicago Historical Society      173

The Marionette Theatre of Peter Arnott at Harvard University      177

The Lou Harrison Collection: Music and Puppetry East to West      189

The Dwiggins Marionettes at the Boston Public Library      196

The Puppet Collection of the National Museum of American History      205

PART III. PUPPETRY IN ACTION

“Bringing Together Man and Nature”: The Theater of Julie Taymor      225

Exhibitions and Collections of the Jim Henson Company       239

Howdy Doody in the Courtroom: A Puppet Custody Case      245

The Fundamentals of Marionette Care      258

Puppetry in Cyberspace: Developing Virtual Performance Spaces      277

Appendix A: Selected Additional Puppetry Collections      285

Appendix B: Films and Videos on Puppetry at the Donnell Media Center of the New York Public Library       294

Selected Bibliography      303

About the Contributors      311

Index      315

Book Reviews & Awards

“recommended”—Choice; “A wonderful new research guide and reference for the theatre historian and puppetry aficionado. American Puppetry: Collections, History, Performance not only lists and describes the major puppet-related collections located throughout the United States, but also explores the lives and histories of American puppetry’s most innovative and dynamic practitioners. This book’s essays provide the perfect springboard into deeper research of the unique and always fascinating history of puppet theatre. I heartily recommend it.”—Puppeteer Phillip Huber.