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The long history of puppetry.

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The long history of puppetry Prehistoric miniature stone figures have been excavated in many places. We can only guess what they may have been used for. Scholars try to attach cultural or mystical significance to these finds. Storytelling and play acting with dolls are invented spontaneously by children the world over. The making of miniature figures is basic to human nature. It is a fair guess that the main use is simply - entertainment. In the fifth century BC Herodotus writes about ancient figures operated by strings. Xenophon of Athens refers to a travelling Greek showman putting on a puppet show. These men did not discover something new, they were just early-published writers, and they wrote about what was happening. ...read more.


They also invented the slapstick, a stick that has two small paddles at the end of it or is divided at one or both ends to make a noise when it hits anything. This is where we get the term "slapstick comedy". Polichinelle was playing in France by 1630. Samuel Pepys was a civil servant who kept a diary. He wrote it for himself in his own private code but it was published after his death. It gives a fascinating personal view of 17th century England. In 1662 this diary records the first English mention of open-air puppet performances. Pepys writes that he watched the puppets a few times, once he stopped for a show in Hyde Park and it made him late for an appointment with the king. ...read more.


Cruikshank and publisher John Payne Collier hired an Italian performer, Signor Piccini, to put on a private show in the King's Arms, a tavern in Drury Lane, London. The show was stopped frequently so that Cruikshank could make drawings and Collier could record the dialogue. Both of these illustrations are by Cruikshank. Piccini may or may not have been an Italian. Then, as now, entertainers sometimes invented exotic names and backgrounds for themselves. He was a great puppeteer. He could have one of his puppets take off his hat with one hand, throw it to the other hand, and put it back on his head. Punch and Judy proliferated in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Shows were seen everywhere and some of the performers became prosperous. ...read more.

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