From the Grotto to the Grotesque: Puppets, Folklore and the Uncanny


  • Emily LeQuesne Bath Spa University



Do our collective unconscious memories of folk traditions, ritual, and pre- and early Christian use of puppetry influence responses to puppetry today? What is an uncanny response to puppetry? Historically, many societies have at times deemed puppetry to be foolish or even illegal: it was dismissed by the Christian suppression of Paganism, and later through the banning of idolatry, and since the Enlightenment period through the mockery of indigenous folk traditions. From the “ensouling” (Nielson 2001, 33), of statues in a sacred grotto to the grotesquery of the uncanny brought to life through puppetry, and onto political protest through animation of effigy and statue, this article will explore links between folklore and puppets.

Keywords: puppets; uncanny; folklore; pagan; grotesque; statue

Author Biography

Emily LeQuesne, Bath Spa University

Emily is a UK dramaturg, lecturer,writer and puppet theatre maker.

She is Co-founder of Croon Productions puppet theatre company.

Emily’s doctoral research resulted in the creation of a new dramaturgy system:The Mosaic Scale.

She is currently writing a guidebook to the Mosaic Scale and how to apply dramaturgical thinking in theatre making.

She has worked extensively as a drama facilitator & lecturer in mainstream universities & SEND colleges,& for the educational provision of theatres in the UK.

For over 20 years,she has made work in professional & community settings in human theatre: Theatre In Education,Reminiscence theatre,& site specific productions.