The history of Puppet Theater is as ancient as that of traditional theater itself. This art is already present among the primitives who, dazzled by their silhouettes on the cave walls, designed the shadow theater, perhaps aiming to entertain their children. Since then Man has no longer stopped his creative impulse. The clay-molded dolls, without joints, appear, to later appear the first examples with the union of head and limbs.
Puppet Theater was born a long time ago in the East, especially in China, India, Java, and Indonesia. There he gained spiritual status and was treated with much reverence. The Orientals considered these dolls to be true gods, endowed with mediumistic and fantastic resources. They were created to such perfection that they became identical to living beings, often actually inspired by real characters.
This art landed in Europe through the merchants, soon spreading across the continent. Among the Greeks, they were carriers of such boldness, which were often used as tools for mocking Christianity. The Romans inherited this cultural element and greatly contributed to its enhancement and consequent dissemination.
In the Western universe, unlike the East, one sees human reason trying to dialogue with the sacred in a rudimentary way. In the medieval era, this art was the target of religious intolerance, as it was used at this time as a means of evangelizing people. It was usually displayed during free markets in the Burgos.
In American lands, the Puppet Theater arrived at the hands of the colonizers, in the mid-16th century, in the era of great discoveries. In this way, this cultural movement arrived in Brazil, once again as an instrument of religious indoctrination. He consolidated himself in the Northeast, settling especially in Pernambuco, being baptized in Paraíba as Babau. Through this art, artists can convey to the public their message impregnated with social themes.
The doll’s grace lies in its association of movement and sound, which enchants and seduces mainly the children. Puppet Theater is always closely linked to the historical, cultural, social, political, economic, religious and educational environment. In every corner of the planet, because of its cultural diversity, it is given a distinctive name.
In Italy is Maceus, later replaced by Polichinelo; in Turkey, the Karagoz; in Greece, the Atalanas; in Germany, the Kasper; in Russia, the Petruska; in Java, the Wayang; in Spain, the Cristovam; in England, the Punch; in France, the Guinhol; in the United States, Mupptes; and in Brazil, the Mamulengo.
The Puppet Theater comes into existence through the movement of the hands of the actor who manipulates it, narrates the stories and transcends reality, metamorphosing the real in moments of magic and seduction. But it also has a high educational potential and can become a powerful instrument in the hands of a good educator.