So Karagiozi greets you, or something like that. Welcome to Crafty Theatre, for the love of theatre of disguise and visual realization of crafty imagination.
Making theatre can involve many different skills. It begins with the storyteller: the playwright or the performer. The storyteller is only sometimes the narrator. More often a playwright writes the fable or the performer craftily creates events in real time improvisation. Scenery, costume, props, sound, lights and stage management take their roles. Let’s not forget marketing (for without an audience, all we have is a rehearsal). And then there are other types of storytellers, those that can’t be approached, those in disguise.
Puppets, masks and pseudonyms give the storyteller the freedom to satirise, teach or otherwise comment and poke fun at the world at large or the communal fishbowl.
Puppets and masks fascinate with their heightened reality – the way they move or talk. Be they bigger, different, awkward, grotesque or smoother, they are almost us. But not quite. We give them license to mock our humanity but the minute they become us, they hit the road.
The lessons they teach us are learnt subtly, delivered from behind exaggeration’s veil. Their world is simplified. In traditional puppet and mask theatres like Karagiozi and the Commedia dell’arte performers portray a narrow definition of character e.g., the trickster, the quack, the braggart, the scholar etc. In this way they can exaggerate a stance on the issue driving the story forward. That stance is visually conveyed in the puppet or performer’s posture, costume and voice. In their world problems are simply described and solutions are apparent. Exaggeration grabs the audience’s attention and the simple solution to a universal foible e.g., jealousy or greed or vanity, is arrived at by the audience even before it is acted out. The puppet/mask’s issue becomes the audience’s issue and its advice is subtly accepted. The puppet succeeds where the human may fail.
Essentially this blog is about theatrical proxies – masks, puppets and pseudonyms. Crafty Theatre is about the making of theatre and posts DIY projects on its Facebook page and Pinterest site. The theoretical ideas that these projects inspire will be posted here.
Your responses will, I hope, contribute to creaing a “cyberspace” bee – another manifestation of ourselves sitting like Plato’s perfect forms around a communal table sharing PVA glue, pencil sharpeners and passing scissors as we discuss the theatre arts, history and the way of the world.
Karagiozi Wall Art credit:
Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/ellie-yannis/8400605891/”>Pensive glance</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-NC-SA</a>
Commedia Dell’Arte image credit: