Author Archives: Autism Arts Festival

Puppetry for Theatrophiles – Review of Francis’ Puppetry: A Reader in Theatre Practice

Published in the Puppet Notebook

Please cite as May, S. (2012) ‘Puppetry for Theatrophiles – Puppetry: A Reader in Theatre Practice by Penny Francis’. Puppet Notebook. Issue 21, Spring 2012. 

Penny Francis begins the first chapter of her book by explaining that it is intended “for every category of theatrophile”, an indication of the scope and ambition of the project. In other words, she attempts to write a book which will appeal to puppeteers, scholars and theatre-makers considering puppets for the first time. I suspect that different chapters will appeal to different groups but all should enjoy Francis’ writing style, which is authoritative yet accessible.

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Embodiment, Plasticity and the Disclosiveness of Failure

Published in ‘Body, Space and Technology’. (online)

Please cite as May, S. (2012) ‘Embodiment, Plasticity and the Disclosiveness of Failure’, Body, Space & Technology 11/01 


In this paper, I want to argue that embodiment is characterised by a plasticity which entails that it can include both the biological limb and the ‘artificial’ tool, as evidenced by recent research in cognitive science. Moreover, I want to claim that it is only in failure that the embodied limb and tool are phenomenologically distinct. I will go on to argue that this claim is essential for understanding the phenomenon of failed embodiment, such as that found within the clowning tradition, before concluding with a short provocation regarding the social and political implications of such a view.

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Anthropic Objects and Anthropomorphic Things

Published in Puppetry International.

Please cite as May, S. (2012) ‘Anthropic Objects and Anthropomorphic Things’, Puppetry International Issue 31, Spring/Summer 2012

In this essay, I use research from outside of performance theory, specifically computer science and philosophy, in order to draw out a terminological distinction which I believe is essential to understanding the phenomenon of the animated puppet. Specifically, the difference between an object looking humanlike and an object being humanlike. Crucially, I want to argue that the latter is characterized by what Heidegger calls being-in-the-world.

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