Scriptwriting for puppet theatre. Towards the Mosaic Scale: literary dramaturgy for Anglo-American contemporary puppetry

LeQuesne, E (2021) Scriptwriting for puppet theatre. Towards the Mosaic Scale: literary dramaturgy for Anglo-American contemporary puppetry. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

Repository Terms Apply.

Download (3MB) | Preview


This thesis seeks to position itself as an expansion and development of discourse on puppet theatre, dramaturgy and playwriting. The following is an exploration of my writing for puppetry through practice as research. There are three elements to this research: 1) The two original puppet theatre scripts – 'The Blue Lady' and 'MONSTER'. 2) The literature review and reflection on the practice as research journey. 3) The Mosaic Scale - original dramaturgical guidelines, created as a result of practice as research. It is my intention that this research will make an original contribution to the scholarly study of writing and dramaturgy for puppet theatre by creating two full-length puppet theatre scripts and analysing the process of writing those scripts;contributing to knowledge about process and expanding thinking on the notion of the uncanny and the visceral in scriptwriting by including the process and perspective of a creative practitioner, and my dramaturgical system The Mosaic Scale. The Mosaic Scale for dramaturging puppet theatre scripts provides a series of questions for the writer to ask of themselves and their script throughout the process, in order to refine and edit their script in progress.Some of the considerations are to be kept at the back of the mind throughout the process of writing and checked regularly, other questions or topics are specific to particular milestones in the process and yet more good to ask of the final drafts. Within the five step system is an exercise also named the mosaic scale, see diagram above. The mosaic scale exercise can be used to look at the number of times a character, theme, puppet type, effect, scale or motif appears in a scene or show. It allows for the exploration of balance, rhythm, and style, and indicates if the thing being examined is missing, occurring too soon or too often. It can be utilised during all of the five steps. There is an intrinsic uncanniness to a puppet play which comes from the anthropomorphism of an inanimate object. This prompts the question: does the consideration of trying to create any further elements of uncanniness into the script become unnecessary? The Mosaic Scale is specifically developed to explore the visceral and the uncanny within writing puppetry and the patterns of occurrence and repetition of elements specific to these two categories on the page. The writer does not have to try to make strange the puppet theatre but can enhance its reception from an audience, through the application of certain tropes and motifs that encourage a visceral or uncanny response. Within contemporary Anglo-American puppet theatre, the canon is limited in terms of published scripts. Most puppeteers create shows through a number of different methods of devising. Historically, those puppetry scripts that have been written by individual playwrights are readerly rather than performative and usually consist only of dialogue and entrances/exits. Other scripts are dialogue heavy and include specific puppet manipulation direction within the dialogue. This latter tendency makes the scripts untidy to read as dramatic literature but perhaps more useful as performative texts because the stage directions can help to impart the action that shows the narrative in performance.This discovery led me to question:what does a creative team need from a performative puppet theatre script? Puppet theatre is not a one-size-fits-all process – it is a polysemic system dependent on the type of puppetry utilised, the target audience, and the place and time in which these signs are being decoded. Any script written from scratch needs to reflect these elements to be a useful performative text. This contextual component of my thesis is aimed at puppetry directors, puppeteers, performance writers who are new to puppetry and those coming from another medium with an interest in puppet theatre. I have included a glossary for those new to certain terms.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

This research was carried out as part of the Story Foundry doctoral programme supported by Bath Spa University’s Research Centre for Transcultural Creativity and Education (TRACE).

Keywords: PhD by Practice, puppetry, puppet theatre, dramaturgy, playwriting, scriptwriting, Story Foundry
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Identification Number:
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2021 18:13
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 18:36
URI / Page ID:
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)