It seems that puppets are further crossing the threshold of reality by taking on non-fictional roles. Though this is not animation, the documentary genre is forever expanding and shifting mediums, even extending to live puppet shows.
Dan Hurlin’s ‘Disfarmer,’ is a biographical puppetry performance about the American realist portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer, whose haunting and intimate portraits of the inhabitants of rural Arkansas became iconic works of art after his death in the 1950s. Hurlin’s show sees a full stage of puppeteers share command of one lithe puppet. The show chronicles Disfarmer’s solitary existence as a reclusive artist. The show ends up almost autobiographical, with the puppet bearing far more resemblance to Hurlin than Disfarmer, their respective determined and obsessive natures becoming clear throughout the performance.
Here’s a taster of the show:
To add another ‘meta’ element to this piece, first-time filmmaker David Soll has been following Hurlin’s ‘Disfarmer’ project, creating a documentary film about the documentary performance. Soll’s film entitled ‘Puppet’ charts Hurlin’s successes and failures, as well as scrutinising the art of puppetry in general. Soll sheds light on the negative reception puppet theatre often receives among an adult demographic.
For those in London, ‘Puppet’ is being screened at The Little Angel Puppet Theatre for the ‘Puppets on Film Festival’ 12th-14th April 2013 – so watch this space for a review.