This first English – language study traces the history of Italian puppetry from its evolution in the 16th century. The earliest shows became popular among street performers, particularly in Naples, where performances drew crowds and were lucrative. While the 20th century saw significantly fewer puppeteers, due largely to economic decline, it was also a time for the growth of puppetry as serious creative expression. Other topics include: the golden ages of marionettes, glove puppets, fantoccini, pupi, and other forms; descriptions of episodic, dramatic performances known as rappresentanti figurati; and, in-depth studies of two marionette companies, Turin’s Lupi and Catania’s Fratelli Napoli.
A fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, and director of Ireland’s first university theatre department, John McCormick took early retirement in 1998 to work full-time as a puppet researcher and performer. His publications include People’s Theatre, Popular Theatres of Nineteenth-Century France, Dion Boucicault (1820-1890), and (with Bennie Pratasik) Popular Puppet Theatre in Europe, 1800-1914.