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Theatre: Applied Puppetry - New for 2021

We are delighted to annouce the  release of a new programme which will first feature in our 2021 Online International Summer School and we hope will be of interest to people in many different fields and walks of life! This is coming to you directly from our Drama department at the University of Exeter, ranked in the top 5 in the UK. 

Puppets are traditional forms of entertainment and teaching across the world. Puppets were first used as intermediaries between different worlds, to communicate with gods and ancestors and to transport the dead from the world of the living to the world after death. In many parts of the world puppets are held in very high status and perform stories which may last several hours or even days.

In the contemporary world, puppets are increasingly used in social and community contexts: in education, healthcare, performer training and for community celebration. This module looks at ways in which puppetry and performing objects can be used in applied theatre contexts: for storytelling, teaching and communication in educational contexts: for example, to communicate with children who are shy or have confidence difficulties; as accompaniment for people in hospital, or with the elderly with dementia, or for healthcare education; and for festivals, community development and advocacy. Students will learn how to make and operate simple puppets; and will devise a project for a social setting, using a puppet or puppetry for specific purposes.

The module will include an introduction to puppetry performance training and a presentation of different kinds of puppetry traditions, forms and contexts. The first half of the week will be an introduction to performing and making skills, using different kinds of puppets. The second part of the week will be exploring applied puppetry and building towards a presentation of different applied puppetry projects to be used in education, health and community settings. We will culminate with a procession of a giant puppet representing the group.

This performance study module will be playful, fun and experimental. The group will work collaboratively and will develop skills in puppetry, storytelling, performance and in understanding the role that theatre can have in social contexts.

Module at a Glance

Module Title Theatre: Applied Puppetry
Module Code To be confirmed 
Module Convenor Cariad Astles 
Credit Value 7.5 ECTS
Scheduled Teaching 24 x 2 Hour Sessions
Total Module Hours 150 Hours
Guided Independent Study

Pre-Reading Before Arrival, including viewing of videos
Preparatory readings for lectures and seminars

Formative Assessment

1. Presentation of performed scene using puppets

2. Presentation of draft proposal for applied puppetry project

Summative Assessment

1. Extended proposal for an applied puppetry project to take place in a specific social context

2. Written esay OR annotated powerpoint discussing a particular aspect of puppetry in practice in the contemporary world

Sample Pre Reading

Astles, Cariad, Fisher, Emma, Purcell-Gates, Laura and Sextou, Persephone (eds), The Journal of Applied Arts and Health: special issue on Puppetry, Health, Wellbeing and Disability, Issue 11.1 and 11.2, July 2020

Sample Lecture Sessions

Puppetry in education

Puppetry in Healthcare