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Why is Puppetry Dying?

Is Puppetry a Dying Art?

Puppetry is still alive and well (sorry if the title sounds a little click baity). Puppetry is one of those art forms that ebbs and flows, but always has a place to land. With newbies coming in such as Darci Lynn Farmer, a new revitalization in the puppetry arts is taking place.

Festivals, celebrating the art of puppetry, literally take place all over the world. I try to keep it up to date, but if you check out the home page of my website, you will see a list of upcoming festivals and events. In fact, I will be at the 2019 Vent Haven ConVENTion in July.

Surviving commercialism

Some believe that this art form is becoming too commercial with the sudden expansion of “new blood” in the mix, and that it’s becoming too mainstream, but if you honestly look at it now, we are nowhere near the popularity that the Muppets held back in the 80’s and 90’s. One could only hope that the revitalization that we are seeing will grow into a full on renaissance of great puppeteers and masters in this art.

Specific Forms

If goes without saying that there are certain forms of puppetry that are more popular than others and many of the masters of the old styles, such as Wayang and Bunraku, are retiring and dying without finding and effectively training the next generations in the history, traditions and pride of the the arts. SO many of these, are losing interest, but luckily there are groups out there working hard to keep the traditions alive, so hopefully they will all make a thriving come back.

Where is it heading?

For some time now, the invent of digital puppetry has been growing and now, with open source programs such as blender and Python, it is becoming easier for digital artists to take the basic concepts used in video games, to create actionable characters on screen. In fact, for a few years, I operated a digital puppet named Macster 3000, which live on my laptop, but through the power of HDMI, was projected on a large screen and interacted with the audience just as easily as a puppet on a hand.

How Can You Help?

First, study all you can about the different types of puppetry. Don’t merely find one style and only work with that.

Try to build teams. Even if you never perform outside of your group, use it as a time to meet with others to keep the art of puppetry growing.

Support organizations such as the Vent Haven Ventriloquist Museum, The Puppeteers of America and so many other organizations dedicated to promoting the arts.

Donate to puppeteers who contribute something through their art in hospitals, schools and churches to help them keep quality puppets and equipment to keep doing what they do.

Tilt the Algorithms

Whether it is Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, you name it, all of the social media outlets have algorithms that tell them what to promote organically in feeds, sidebars and suggestions; the more you make a point to view, like and share puppet related posts, the more exposure puppetry gets, so post away.

As always, like, share and leave a question or comment. Take care and Keep Puppeting.


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