Definition Rewrite-toastedflatbread

The Mahna Mahna Phenomena

Puppets are one of the most powerful emotive tools in society. This may sound ridiculous and that is perfectly okay. Puppets are ridiculous. However, with the help of a puppeteer, puppets have the advantage of scrutinizing and commentating on life through their own unique lens. Of course, humans understand that puppets are the instrument of a puppeteer, but this doesn’t reduce their value. The important thing about puppetry is that humans are not the ones performing, but rather guiding. The inanimate object is performing and that is what makes puppets so captivating. Puppets have acted as valuable teaching tools for centuries, guiding the audience to empathize and learn. Puppets can spark change and emotion as no other form of art or communication can; this power should be understood by the puppeteer and used to reach larger audiences of all ages to discuss important issues and events in the world. Allowing humans to observe life challenges through the lens of puppets can foster greater empathy, understanding, and rationality within their hearts and minds. Essentially, puppets can help cultivate more emotionally grounded humans.

The sometimes predictable cycle of life tends to be draining and monotonous for us as human beings. The opportunity to escape this pattern is intriguing and wanted by many. Puppets present a chance to exist within another world; the world of the inanimate. In a desperate attempt to release ourselves from the heavy presence of the “real world”, we will willingly cooperate in any safe fantasy we are offered. No matter what role someone plays in a performance, be it performer, director, audience member, etc, as long as they are witnessing a performance, specifically a live performance, they no longer exist in a comprehensible space; they have chosen to investigate this unreal realm. 

First, it is important to understand at which point the puppet is “alive” and at which point it is “inanimate,” and how that applies to a theatrical setting. Puppets are not “real” in the traditional sense, but they still hold an incredible amount of power, especially when they are portrayed as living beings. The emotional range of puppets has developed a great deal over time. In their early beginnings, they were used mainly as figures to represent certain historic events, but over time the emotional capacities of puppets have been explored and expanded. Shows such as Sesame Street have proven that modern puppets embody personalities and can express complicated feelings. These make them the valuable tools that they are for educational purposes. Puppets are not limited to Kermit the Frog-like felt hand puppets, they can be wooden marionettes, human-sized creatures made of sticks, or simply inanimate objects such as a water bottle, broom, or napkin. The possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting and experimenting with puppets. Anything inanimate can be animated with a willingness from the puppeteer to put their energy into the object. 

Contemplate that actors have many ways in which to express their feelings, such as their body movements and facial expressions. The audience empathizes with the actors because of these gestures. Puppets do not have the same range of expression, yet a glove with two googly eyes can produce powerful expressions and also elicit reactions from the audience. Similarly, a hat and a coat are just costume pieces, but on a clothes rack, they can resemble a human being and become a dance partner. The opportunities for exploration and experimentation are truly limitless when working with inanimate objects in a theatre. In short, with a little creative tweaking, inanimate objects can “become human-like” even when they do not look remotely human.

Throughout history, artists have experimented with the possibilities of puppetry, and as such, the many uses for puppets have evolved over time. The craft began as a tool for ritual or religious ceremonies, spanning back to the 5th century B.C. Rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, and flat figures are some of the most well-known early forms of puppetry. Puppets can be as small or smaller than a finger or larger than a human. Puppets were used to tell stories before theatre was even a developed art; they essentially paved the way for storytelling. Puppets are no longer used for religious ceremonies, but rather for educational purposes and as tools for psychological investigation; both are specifically aimed towards audiences of young children.

From puppetry, performance theatre blossomed. As defined in the article, “The Theatricality of Objects: Object Theatre Beyond the Puppet” by Åndi Hanske, “The term ‘object theatre’ emerges from the world of puppets. It describes a form of puppetry that utilizes found, or real, objects in puppeteering, to create anthropomorphic characters or to symbolize figures, places, landscapes or metaphorical ideas.” This form of theatre is widely experimented with today and it opens yet another realm of possibility in the performing arts space. As explained by Hanske in the article, “All objects can be defined by how they transform, disrupt, or modify something else, reconfiguring the relations of any social arrangement. It rejects the distinction between subjects and objects and thus attempts to reconfigure the role and nature of agency in respect to how material objects might be understood, reinstating nonhuman elements as active co-creators in establishing social, cultural and political effects.” Object theatre proves that the art of performance is flexible and experimental and inanimate and animate beings are equally valuable in theatre, each with varying strengths. 

An important aspect of puppeteering is understanding that puppets will only care as much as the puppeteer lets them, meaning they will only move with the same amount of effort as their puppeteer. After all, a puppet’s personality is only projected through them, not necessarily fulfilled by the object. However, people sympathize so deeply with puppets that it is difficult to imagine these characters as mere objects. This kind of strain between the two worlds of puppetry (i.e., animate vs inanimate) is precisely what makes it so captivating. In fact, this medium is so compelling that it is arguably easier to invest in the puppet rather than the actor because the liveliness of the puppet depends largely upon the audience’s reaction. The puppet will only come alive in the viewer’s heads if they allow it. With human actors, the audience already knows they are alive, but it still can be difficult to believe that they are a character if people in the audience know the actor personally or if the actor cannot “sell” themselves as the character. With an inanimate puppet, the audience can more readily believe the puppet is a certain character because it is not living, therefore has no boundaries to its possibilities. As said in the article, Between Human and Object: Performing Artists on the Possibilities of Puppets”, “the crucial point about puppets is that they are real and unreal at the same time.” People are enthralled by this internal battle between their understanding of the real and imaginary worlds. The fine line between “inanimate” and “animate” in the theatre is indeed tricky to understand but it relies on a working relationship between the puppeteer, the puppet, and the audience. When the three work together, puppets provide an outlet for our need for emotional catharsis. They do so because they have no guile. They pretend to be real, but they never mean to convince us that they are real. They allow us to bring our realities into a safe space and then explore it in ways that allow us to tap into our emotions and varying perspectives.

References

Eprints.worc.ac.uk. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2021, from https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/5218/1/The%20Theatricality%20of%20Objects.pdf

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7 Responses to Definition Rewrite-toastedflatbread

  1. davidbdale says:

    Flatbread, Do you want detailed comments on small aspects of your writing, or do you first want a very general impression of the overall argument?

    Like

    • toastedflatbread22 says:

      I would like comments about if I am on the right track, so if I defined necessary terms and how I can improve. So, a general impression with suggestions would be great! Thank you!

      Like

  2. davidbdale says:

    I’m adding paragraph breaks where they belong.
    I’m also correcting your hyphens (-) with dashes (—) where you’ve used hyphens incorrectly.
    But I’m counting on YOU to fix your bad punctuation:
    —Every time you write “, you should be writing ,”
    —Every time you write “. you should be writing .”
    —Even when the result is Puppets,” “the crucial

    Your paragraphs should contain (and develop) just one main idea.

    Theatre is an enigma of society and no matter how deeply it is studied, it will always hold secrets unbeknownst to the rational world. People tend to live their lives in realistic, understandable ways—wake up, go to work, eat food, sleep, and repeat. This life is comprehensible, comfortable, and predictable; it’s reality.

    However, in very specific situations, people are willing to throw all sense of reality away and forget about the current moment. This occurs when theatre is being created. No matter what role someone plays in a performance—performer, director, audience member, etc, as long as they are witnessing a performance, specifically a live performance, they no longer exist in a comprehensible space—they have been transported to an unreal reality.

    It is astonishing that people are willing to accept theatre as an authentic situation, especially knowing all the while that it is merely an imitation. This very mind-boggling statement is all to say that there is an extremely fine line that exists between “genuine” and “imaginary” in a performance setting. Furthermore, there is an arguably finer line between “inanimate” and “alive” in a performance setting. It is the theatre artist’s duty to explore the infinite realms of these concepts and present them to willing audiences in a dramatic manner.

    First, it is important to understand at which point a major theatrical tool-the puppet is “alive” and “inanimate” and how that applies to a theatrical setting. Puppets are not “real” in the traditional sense, but they still hold an incredible amount of power and in the theatre setting, they are portrayed as living beings. Understanding the human-to-puppet relationship first requires an understanding of what constitutes a “puppet”.

    Puppets are not limited to Kermit the Frog-like felt hand puppets, they can be wooden marionettes, human-sized creatures made of sticks, or simply inanimate objects such as a water bottle, broom, or napkin. The possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting and experimenting with puppets—they can convey so many different emotions and ideas. Anything inanimate can be animated with a willingness from the puppeteer to put their energy into the object.

    Throughout history, artists have experimented with the possibilities of puppetry. The craft began as a tool for ritual or religious ceremonies, spanning back all the way to the 5th century B.C. Rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, and flat figures are some of the most well-known early forms of puppetry. Unique puppetry, such as bunraku, which originated in Japan, is also a prime example of puppetry in history. Puppets can be as small or smaller than a finger or larger than a human. Puppets were used to tell stories before theatre was even a developed art-it essentially paved the way for storytelling.

    From puppetry, performance theatre blossomed. As defined in the article, “The Theatricality of Objects: Object Theatre Beyond the Puppet” by Åndi Hanske, “The term ‘object theatre’ emerges from the world of puppets. It describes a form of puppetry that utilises found, or real, objects in puppeteering, to create anthropomorphic characters or to symbolise figures, places, landscapes or metaphorical ideas.” This form of theatre is more widely experimented with today and it is revealing incredible discoveries for performing artists. Any form of puppetry is capable of creating incredible art—the only requirement is that the artists and viewers keep their minds open to its possibilities.

    An important aspect of puppeteering is understanding that puppets will only care as much as the puppeteer lets them, meaning they will only move with the same amount of effort that the puppeteer has. After all, a puppet’s personality is only projected through them, not necessarily fulfilled by the object. However, people sympathize so deeply with puppets that it is difficult to imagine these characters as mere objects. This kind of strain between the two worlds of puppetry is precisely what makes it so compelling.

    As said in the article, Between Human and Object: Performing Artists on the Possibilities of Puppets”, “the crucial point about puppets is that they are real and unreal at the same time.” People know that the puppets are not alive, but they connect with them when another human projects emotion into them. A wonderful example of this kind of deep connection comes from the article, “Power in Puppetry ” by Miranda Wright when she states, “In order to make good on his promise, the puppet offered to provide a demonstration of death itself. He offered to die in front of us. When the moment came, I couldn’t breathe. As the puppeteer behind the curtain lifted his hands from the puppet’s body, I realized there truly was no life left in my new friend. I watched a life end, and sat in the theater crying.”

    This kind of deep, emotional reaction makes it clear that a performance is successful once the artist has put their effort into it, but even more so, once the audience has allowed themselves to accept the performance as real. Wright had this experience because she saw the marionettes “breathe” and “come to life” and she accepted that as natural. She kept her mind and heart open to the possibilities of the performance and it touched her deeply.

    Scott Cummings describes this idea perfectly in his article, “Puppets: Still Very Much a Thing”, when he states, “The puppet lives in the audience’s imagination. We try to steer that, and perhaps persuade it to go somewhere exciting, but to be honest we don’t have a huge amount of control over it.” So, that fine line between “inanimate” and “animate” in the theatre is indeed tricky to understand but it relies on a working relationship between the puppeteer, the puppet, and the audience. All three must be working in harmony and be open to learning new things because that is when the real magic happens.

    Like

  3. davidbdale says:

    Now, one by one, my “general impressions” of your individual paragraphs.

    Theatre is an enigma of society and no matter how deeply it is studied, it will always hold secrets unbeknownst to the rational world. People tend to live their lives in realistic, understandable ways—wake up, go to work, eat food, sleep, and repeat. This life is comprehensible, comfortable, and predictable; it’s reality.

    It’s OK, but I don’t know if emphasizing the “secrets theatre holds” does you much good. I’d be more impressed if you took a bigger chance and suggested that, considering how dull and predictable much of our lives is, we’re desperate to escape it and will willingly cooperate in any fantasy we can muster.

    However, in very specific situations, people are willing to throw all sense of reality away and forget about the current moment. This occurs when theatre is being created. No matter what role someone plays in a performance—performer, director, audience member, etc, as long as they are witnessing a performance, specifically a live performance, they no longer exist in a comprehensible space—they have been transported to an unreal reality.

    Yeah, not “willing to forget” but eager to abandon reality if only for a while. “Transported” sounds passive. Your audience have to WANT to collaborate with the puppeteer to animate the cloth object. Right? The performer does the moves, invests the motions, but the audience brings the reality. WE animate the puppet.

    It is astonishing that people are willing to accept theatre as an authentic situation, especially knowing all the while that it is merely an imitation. This very mind-boggling statement is all to say that there is an extremely fine line that exists between “genuine” and “imaginary” in a performance setting. Furthermore, there is an arguably finer line between “inanimate” and “alive” in a performance setting. It is the theatre artist’s duty to explore the infinite realms of these concepts and present them to willing audiences in a dramatic manner.

    I think you can stop calling it astonishing if what we engage in is a collaboration to deceive ourselves in order to experience SOMEONE else’s reality. “Infinite realms” is too fussy. The theatre artist is a conduit for the emotions the audience wants to feel.

    First, it is important to understand at which point a major theatrical tool—the puppet—is “alive” and “inanimate” and how that applies to a theatrical setting. Puppets are not “real” in the traditional sense, but they still hold an incredible amount of power and, in the theatre setting, they are portrayed as living beings. Understanding the human-to-puppet relationship first requires an understanding of what constitutes a “puppet”.

    I’m not sure understanding the relationship DOES require an understanding of what a puppet is. But what I’d be interested in seeing you develop is an explanation of the emotional range of puppets and how THAT has developed over time.

    Puppets are not limited to Kermit the Frog-like felt hand puppets, they can be wooden marionettes, human-sized creatures made of sticks, or simply inanimate objects such as a water bottle, broom, or napkin. The possibilities are endless when it comes to crafting and experimenting with puppets—they can convey so many different emotions and ideas. Anything inanimate can be animated with a willingness from the puppeteer to put their energy into the object.

    We don’t learn much from that paragraph. I’d like to see some examples. An actor moves his hand in a way that expresses HIS feeling about a situation on stage. We empathize with him. But that same hand in a glove with a couple of google eyes is suddenly an additional actor with a personality of its own. A hat and a coat are just costume pieces, but on a clothes rack, they can resemble a human being and become a dance partner.

    Throughout history, artists have experimented with the possibilities of puppetry. The craft began as a tool for ritual or religious ceremonies, spanning back all the way to the 5th century B.C. Rod puppets, hand puppets, shadow puppets, marionettes, and flat figures are some of the most well-known early forms of puppetry. Unique puppetry, such as bunraku, which originated in Japan, is also a prime example of puppetry in history. Puppets can be as small or smaller than a finger or larger than a human. Puppets were used to tell stories before theatre was even a developed art—it essentially paved the way for storytelling.

    This paragraph wastes a lot of potential. If through its history, puppetry reveals that it has served different functions at different times, then the FUNCTIONALITY is what you want to emphasize. We don’t use puppets for religious ritual now. Are they valuable as psychological tools now? As intermediaries to our repressed feelings? Do they give us access to taboo?

    From puppetry, performance theatre blossomed. As defined in the article, “The Theatricality of Objects: Object Theatre Beyond the Puppet” by Åndi Hanske, “The term ‘object theatre’ emerges from the world of puppets. It describes a form of puppetry that utilises found, or real, objects in puppeteering, to create anthropomorphic characters or to symbolise figures, places, landscapes or metaphorical ideas.” This form of theatre is more widely experimented with today and it is revealing incredible discoveries for performing artists. Any form of puppetry is capable of creating incredible art—the only requirement is that the artists and viewers keep their minds open to its possibilities.

    This paragraph is largely unrealized, too. “Revealing incredible discoveries” and “creating incredible art” are pretty empty phrases, along with “minds open to possibility.” You’re not persuading us that puppets accomplish anything.

    An important aspect of puppeteering is understanding that puppets will only care as much as the puppeteer lets them, meaning they will only move with the same amount of effort that the puppeteer has. After all, a puppet’s personality is only projected through them, not necessarily fulfilled by the object. However, people sympathize so deeply with puppets that it is difficult to imagine these characters as mere objects. This kind of strain between the two worlds of puppetry is precisely what makes it so compelling.

    Nice. You’re working toward the interaction I was suggesting earlier. An actor representing a person does the same thing you say an actor working with a puppet does. She animates and projects a real person different from herself according to the limits of her ability, imagination, and energy. It barely matters whether she does that without a puppet—to project a queen—or with a puppet, to project the same queen by animating one made of wood and cloth. The rest of the work is done by the willing audience. My question has been and remains, is it HARDER or EASIER to invest in the actor or the puppet? I say the puppet because we don’t have to DENY the failure of the actor to actually BE the queen. We take it for granted that the puppet is not the queen. We only will her to be.

    As said in the article, Between Human and Object: Performing Artists on the Possibilities of Puppets”, “the crucial point about puppets is that they are real and unreal at the same time.” People know that the puppets are not alive, but they connect with them when another human projects emotion into them. A wonderful example of this kind of deep connection comes from the article, “Power in Puppetry ” by Miranda Wright when she states, “In order to make good on his promise, the puppet offered to provide a demonstration of death itself. He offered to die in front of us. When the moment came, I couldn’t breathe. As the puppeteer behind the curtain lifted his hands from the puppet’s body, I realized there truly was no life left in my new friend. I watched a life end, and sat in the theater crying.”

    When that illustration lands right HERE, after you’ve prepared your reader to understand how deeply we invest our own psychology in the wooden queen, you’ll have them weeping too.

    This kind of deep, emotional reaction makes it clear that a performance is successful once the artist has put their effort into it, but even more so, once the audience has allowed themselves to accept the performance as real. Wright had this experience because she saw the marionettes “breathe” and “come to life” and she accepted that as natural. She kept her mind and heart open to the possibilities of the performance and it touched her deeply.

    Now is the moment to ask the rhetorical question. What need did that puppet’s death fulfill for Wright? She would never have felt its tragedy so deeply if she hadn’t needed at that moment to tap her own pain.

    Scott Cummings describes this idea perfectly in his article, “Puppets: Still Very Much a Thing”, when he states, “The puppet lives in the audience’s imagination. We try to steer that, and perhaps persuade it to go somewhere exciting, but to be honest we don’t have a huge amount of control over it.” So, that fine line between “inanimate” and “animate” in the theatre is indeed tricky to understand but it relies on a working relationship between the puppeteer, the puppet, and the audience. All three must be working in harmony and be open to learning new things because that is when the real magic happens.

    “Working in harmony” and “learning new things” are OK, Flatbread, but they’re also tangential, like the earlier “secrets theatre holds.” This might be the time to suggest that puppets do what they’ve always done. They provide an outlet for our need for myth, religious transport, emotional catharsis. They do so because they have no guile. They pretend to be real, but they never mean to convince us that they’re real, so they allow us to bring ALL of OUR OWN reality.

    Helpful?
    It may seem like criticism, but I mean it to be inspirational.
    I’m very invested in this project of yours out of admiration and appreciation.
    Please do another draft.
    And respond. 🙂

    Like

  4. davidbdale says:

    One more thing. What did I miss? What’s the Mahna Mahna Phenomenon?

    Like

  5. toastedflatbread22 says:

    Thank you for your amazing feedback! I have applied it to my Definition Argument and it has helped me EXTENSIVELY! Thank you for admiring and appreciating my work, that really helps me feel appreciated as I work through this! I posted a revised version of my Definition Argument and highlighted specific areas that I would like reviewed. Also, the Mahna Mahna Phenomena is my attempt to be clever and reference this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N_tupPBtWQ

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