How to Think a Puppet

Article English OPEN
Trimingham, Melissa (2011)
  • Publisher: Gunter Narr
  • Subject: BF | PN2000 | Q1

There is a growing awareness of the relevance of cognitive neuroscience to performance studies, but little attention has been paid to puppetry in this context. In an attempt to open up the field of puppetry to McConachie’s’cognitive turn’, a cognitive approach is here taken to Blind Summit’s ‘The Table’. The solo puppet protagonist Moses is described here as a ‘brain on legs’, a lively, funny and poignant figure who hovers on the brink of epic greatness but remains forever fixed to his table top. ‘The Table’ is analysed from three angles : firstly the use of environmental ‘affordances’ in James Gibson’s sense ; secondly kinesthetic empathy as described by Antonio Damasio, Shaun Gallagher et alia ; and thirdly,intimately linked to both, emotion. It is by virtue of Moses’s limitations that we are able to glimpse our own potential as human beings, richly embedded as we (and his operators) are in a world of limitless ‘affordances’ or ‘opportunities for action’ in James Gibson’s sense ; and able to grow cognitively and emotionally through our contact with others.
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