21 March 2014

UNIMA Message for World Puppetry Day 2014

Afghan company / Foto: DP.

Today 21 March 2014 is World Puppetry Day. Tomorrow is the opening of the UNIMA Councilors meeting and festival which will take place in Varadero, Cuba.

As you probably know, each year, UNIMA invites a different guest puppeteer, director , someone important to our art to deliver a message to the world's puppetry community. This year we feature Argentine Master Eduardo Di Mauro, currently living in Venezuela. His company, TEMPO, and the Latin-American Institute of the Puppet, now directed by Maritza Peña, are based in Guanare and may well serve as models for the world of puppetry.

"The puppet draws its origins from one of the most primitive and original forms of art: the play, not the representation of the sacred, as it was sometimes understood. Puppetry is born from a genre of performance that is objective, spontaneous, transparent, naturally becoming increasingly complex as it has adopted various forms and contents.

Due to its transgressive nature, the puppet has been feared and persecuted by kings, emperors, emirates, czars and every other kind of abusive power, since this character of wood and cloth, however lovable and picturesque, is at the same time the carrier of a keen talent for condemnation and criticism, able to use sarcasm, irony and humour with talent, rhythm and biting effect.

Perhaps the period in life when we best identify with this age-old art is adolescence, because that is when young people are carriers of this same energy embroidered with a certain passionate irresponsibility, reacting with the same ardour to whatever they admire, judge or criticize. Perhaps that explains why it’s the young who take a stand and aim their darts at the worldwide media who turn the essential into the banal and make excuses for the worthless.

For many decades our theatre has dedicated a good part of its efforts to the teenagers, promulgating themes that interest them, encouraging them to use puppets to express what moves and concerns them. So of course they themselves bring up taboo subjects like violence, the Mafia, alcoholism, corruption, child pregnancy, loneliness and others which they confront with candour and irreverence.

Puppetry is able, and should be able, to inspire their creativity, through reading, study, research and experiment with new forms, in a search for beauty and harmony in their productions, never forgetting that their relationship with puppet theatre must involve compromise.

Speaking of compromise, a word of many meanings and definitions, I am reminded of our responsibility to understand our real place in the world, what is our position when faced with the multiple examples of the abuse of power in the heart of today’s society – who are today’s kings, where the emperors, the sheikhs. Today they are not to be found seated on a throne adorned with finely wrought precious stones, they prefer to be where nobody can see them distinctly. They possess means of communication which they can reveal or conceal at their pleasure. This kind of king is a thing of a thousand heads, it is neo-liberalism corrupted and savage; these czars, they are the multi-national corporations which inflate their profits and their power, but care nothing about the destruction of the planet and the destruction of lives.

Puppeteers of the whole world, let us confront cruelty, inequality and injustice. Using the infinite variety of techniques and aesthetics to give form to that most expressive of personalities - the puppet - and endowing it with the most fiery language, let us denounce them and demonstrate to them with an admonitory finger how these young people, branded as lacking in ambition, are striving for the development of a better, more humane world."

Eduardo di Mauro 2014
Teatro Tempo

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