1st Edition

Women and Puppetry Critical and Historical Investigations

Edited By Alissa Mello, Claudia Orenstein, Cariad Astles Copyright 2019
    242 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 35 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Women and Puppetry is the first publication dedicated to the study of women in the field of puppetry arts. It includes critical articles and personal accounts that interrogate specific historical moments, cultural contexts, and notions of "woman" on and off stage.

    Part I, "Critical Perspective," includes historical and contemporary analyses of women’s roles in society, gender anxiety revealed through the unmarked puppet body, and sexual expression within oppressive social contexts. Part II, "Local Contexts: Challenges and Transformations," investigates work of female practitioners within specific cultural contexts to illuminate how women are intervening in traditionally male spaces. Each chapter in Part II offers brief accounts of specific social histories, barriers, and gender biases that women have faced, and the opportunities afforded female creative leaders to appropriate, revive, and transform performance traditions. And in Part III, "Women Practitioners Speak," contemporary artists reflect on their experiences as female practitioners within the art of puppet theatre.

    Representing female writers and practitioners from across the globe, Women and Puppetry offers students and scholars a comprehensive interrogation of the challenges and opportunities that women face in this unique art form.

    List of Figures

    Notes on Contributors


    Jane Taylor



    Alissa Mello and Claudia Orenstein

    Part I: Critical Perspectives on Women in Puppet Theatre

    Chapter 1

    The Monster and the Corpse: Puppetry and the Uncanniness of Gender Performance

    Laura Purcell-Gates

    Chapter 2

    Modes of Pleasure: Contemporary Feminist Erotic Puppet Theatre from İstanbul with Love

    Deniz Başar

    Chapter 3

    Women, Marriage, and Femininities: Kkokdu Gaksi Geori (or the "Love Triangle" Scene) in the Korean Traditional Puppet Play

    Kyounghye Kwon

    Chapter 4

    Erasure, Intervention, and Reconstruction: Imagining Women Puppeteers in Myanmar

    Jennifer Goodlander

    Part II: Local Contexts: Challenges and Transformations

    Chapter 5

    Werewere Liking, Vicky Tsikplonou, and Adama Lucie Bacco: Female Artists Appropriating Puppetry to Empower Women in West Africa

    Heather Jeanne Denyer

    Chapter 6

    Class, Gender, and Ritual Puppetry: Negotiating Revival for the Hakomawashi Puppeteers of Tokushima, Japan

    Claudia Orenstein

    Chapter 7

    Whispering Women, Shouting Puppets: Women and Puppetry in Iran

    Salma Mohseni Ardehali

    Chapter 8

    Suffragette Judy: Punch and Judy at Suffrage Fairs and Exhibitions in Edwardian London

    Naomi Paxton

    Part III: Women Practitioners Speak

    Chapter 9

    Women and Objects

    Ana Alvarado

    Chapter 10

    An Expanded Language

    Yngvild Aspeli

    Chapter 11

    My Career as a Puppeteer in Taiwan

    Chia-yin Cheng, with assistance from Chee-Hann Wu

    Chapter 12


    Theodora Skipitares

    Chapter 13

    Kenyan Women in Puppet Theater

    Parmeres (Veronica) Silanka

    Chapter 14

    Papermoon Puppet Theatre: The Journey of Making Contemporary Puppet Theatre Come Alive in The Land of Java

    Maria (Ria) Tri Sulistyani

    Chapter 15

    A Fragile Form

    Janni Younge



    Alissa Mello is an independent theatre artist and scholar, whose research interests include women and performance, as well as practice and social justice. Her publications include a chapter in Undisciplining Dance in 9 Movements and 8 Stumbles (2018), and articles in Performance Research, Puppetry International and PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art.

    Claudia Orenstein is professor of theatre at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. She has spent over a decade writing on puppetry, and her publications include The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and Material Performance (co-editor) and Festive Revolutions: The Politics of Popular Theatre and the San Francisco Mime Troupe.

    Cariad Astles is course leader for the BA in puppetry at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and lecturer in Drama at Exeter University, UK. She specialises in training and directing for puppetry performance and in the use of puppets within healthcare. Her publications include International Puppetry Research: Tracing Past and Present, "Puppetry and dictatorship" in Performing (for) Survival: Theatre, Crisis and Extremity, and "Puppetry Training in Contemporary Live Theatre" in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training.

    "This co-edited volume takes strides in object theatre’s performance history, and does additional service by interrogating gender issues, past and present. The book shows that writing about puppetry and women is necessary, especially as the work of women in puppetry accelerates internationally."

    - KATHY FOLEY, Asian Theatre Journal, University of California-Santa Cruz