1st Edition

Puppet and Spirit: Ritual, Religion, and Performing Objects Volume II Contemporary Branchings: Secular Benedictions, Activated Energies, Uncanny Faiths

Edited By Claudia Orenstein, Tim Cusack Copyright 2025
    264 Pages 33 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This anthology of essays, a companion to Puppet and Spirit: Ritual, Religion, and Performing Objects, Volume I, aims to explore the many types of relationships that exist between puppets, broadly speaking, and the immaterial world.

    The allure of the puppet goes beyond its material presence as, historically and throughout the globe, many uses of puppets and related objects have expressed and capitalized on their posited connections to other realms or ability to serve as vessels or conduits for immaterial presence. The flip side of the puppet’s troubling uncanniness is precisely the possibilities it represents for connecting to discarnate realities. Where do we see such connections in contemporary artistic work in various mediums? How do puppets open avenues for discussion in a world that seems to be increasingly polarized around religious values? How do we describe, analyze, and theorize the present moment? What new questions do puppets address for our times, and how does the puppet’s continued entanglement with these concerns trouble or comfort us? The essays in this book, from scholars and practitioners, provide a range of useful models and critical vocabularies for addressing this aspect of puppet performance, further expanding the growing understanding and appreciation of puppetry generally.


    This book, along with its companion volume, offers, for the first time, robust coverage of this subject from a diversity of voices, examples, and perspectives.

    List of figures

    Notes on Contributors




    Teri Silvio



    Tim Cusack and Claudia Orenstein


    Part I: Assuming Shamanic Roles

    1. Consoling the Dead: Sim U-sŏng’s Puppet Rituals for Modern Korea

    Jungmin Song

    2. Spiritualist Material Performance, Whiteness, and the Animist Other

    Hazel Rickard

    3. Worth Her Salt: Zombification and Liberation Theology in a Puppet Film

    Paulette Richards

    4. The Spirituality of Ordinary Things

    Frank Maugueri


    Part II: Communitas Reclaimed

    5. The Thing You Can’t See: Bread and Puppet Approaches Spirituality

                 John Bell

    6. Queer Puppet Saint: Nested Intuitions

                Erik Ehn

    with contributions from Susan Simpson

    7. Talking about Lunch with Sonia: A Ritual for Departing by Loco7 Dance Puppet Theatre Company

    Federico Restrepo and Denise Greber


    Part III: Faith in Secular Performance

    8. “When the House Is in Ruins”: Tadeusz Kantor’s Archive as Reliquary and Tabernacle for Cross- Temporal Performing Objects

    Jacob Juntunen

    9. Children, Birds, Flowers – A Minor Musical: Performance as Prayer

    Katriina Andrianov

    10. Fabricating Tales of Spirit: A Conversation with Jill Joubert

    Aja Marneweck and Jill Joubert


    11. Puppets and The Good News

    Edna M. Bland


    Part IV: Staging the Other World

    12. Yūrei and Puppetry in Japanese Ghost Stories: (Mis)perception and Ambiguous Bodies in Kaidan

    Laura Purcell-Gates

    13. Bardo! By Performers semFronteiras: A Reflection on the Immateriality in Shadow Theatre

    Gilson Moraes Motta


    Part V: Complex Sacrality in the Contemporary World

    14. Relics, Artifacts, and Bones: Activating Migrancy's Traces Through Performance

    Ana Martínez

    15. Restitution and Resurrection: The Return of Objects to Benin from the Quai Branly Museum

    Heather Jeanne Denyer

    16. Meat Puppets: The Body and the Museum

    Margaret Werry




    Claudia Orenstein is Professor of Theatre at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. She has spent over a decade writing on contemporary and traditional puppetry in the US and Asia.

    Tim Cusack is an Adjunct Lecturer in Theatre at Hunter College. He was the co-founder and artistic director of Theatre Askew, an independent theatre company dedicated to the exploration of representations of queerness onstage.