Puppets have been used by people throughout the ages to entertain, and also to transfer news and information through spectacle when written language is not in use or is under heavy surveillance. Street puppets originally were used in religious festivals,, as well as being used as chidren’s entertainment. The history of radical puppetry intersects with the history of CAVS in the early 20th century when Walter Gropius founded Bauhaus School of design. From 1919 until Hitler’s rise to power in 1933 artists in the Bauhaus drama department experimented with puppetry and performance, bringing their paintings and sculptures to life in a sort of precursor to performance art. Since then, puppets have been used as agit-prop in Russia, as underground methods of communication between antifasict groups in eastern Europe in the 1930s, and by radicals in the United States first as part of May Day workers strikes and later as tools in protests and shows by groups like Bread and Puppet Theater and Great Small Works.
Jenny Romaine is a puppeteer, performer, and director with the Bread & Puppet Theater, Janie Geiser and Co., Amy Trompetter, Ninth Street Theater, and a founding member of Great Small Works. She is the musical director of Jennifer Miller’s OBIE/Bessie Award winning outdoor traveling CIRCUS AMOK.
John Bell is a puppeteer, scholar, and teacher whose interests combine practice and theory. Recognized as one of the preeminent historians of puppet theater in the US, he performs, directs, and otherwise collaborates with Great Small Works, a Brooklyn-based theater collective.