I consider the primary characteristic of puppetry to be a belief in the hidden life of the inanimate object; revealed through the design of a character which is then animated with movement and gesture, becoming infused with human-like yet otherworldly qualities. The puppet is an extension of its operator who must see through its eyes, hear through its ears, breath and speak through its mouth bringing it to life as an ‘other being’ in the moment of performance. This process creates images infused with feeling and tension, used to develop a reciprocal relationship between the performing object and the audience. The audience’s investment in the performance becomes more active as the puppet acting as an empty vessel begs the commitment of the observer’s ego. It places them in closer proximity to the action of the story, engaging them on a visceral and empathetic level, causing the resonance and impact of the experience to be more personal.
Puppet performance goes hand in hand with puppet construction and design, as it contains an organic intuitive process of discovering a character through explorative improvisation, and by channeling the natural rhythms of movement and physical traits of the puppet itself. As an art form puppetry defies the boundaries of a single discipline, and thus demands that artists, designers, writers, and performers move beyond traditional collaborative methods and work toward an understanding of the life of that puppet.
– Shawna Reiter, Artistic Director