Petrushka (Russian: Петрушка) - a hand puppet by any name (today's irony from the white house)



A half a dozen years or so ago I posted some Kirov Ballet scenes from Stravinsky's ballet Petrouchka. They were widely viewed - in fact my most popular posts ever. 

Petrushka is a puppet. He is a character known across Europe under different names: Punch in England, Polichinelle in France, Pulcinella in Italy, Kasperle in Germany, and Petrushka in Russia. Whatever his name, he is a trickster, a rebel, and a wife beater. He enforces moral justice with a slap stick, speaks in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, and argues with the devil. His plays were formulaic and subversive. They repeated key scenes from one play to another. The plays usually ended with a dog, a policeman, or the devil dragging him away.
Empress Anna Ivanovna brought marionettes to Russia in the 18th century. These puppets were an amusement for the aristocracy. Rod puppets were an Asian import. They performed religious plays, mostly at Christmas. 

Petrushka, however, was a hand puppet. He was loved by the common people. He performed in street theaters and other open air venues in small portable booths or behind screens that could be easily assembled and just as easily disassembled. After the Russian Revolution, Soviet authorities forced Petrushka indoors. They wanted to be better able to monitor his subversiveness. 

Here is an interesting take on part of it. One that I would never ever had thought of or thought existed.


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