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The Arts of Angela CarterA Cabinet of Curiosities$
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Marie Mulvey-Roberts

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526136770

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7765/9781526136787

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The rough and the holy: Angela Carter’s marionette theatre

The rough and the holy: Angela Carter’s marionette theatre

(p.246) 12 The rough and the holy: Angela Carter’s marionette theatre
The Arts of Angela Carter

Maggie Tonkin

Manchester University Press

Angela Carter’s writing has often been read through the prism of theatricality: performance, and performativity are pervasive motifs within the critical tradition that has grown up around her work. These discussions have often focused on the performativity of gender in Carter’s fiction, and on her writing itself as a form of performance, even of spectacle. In contradistinction to the tradition of reading performance and performativity metaphorically, this chapter focuses on literal performance in Carter’s work, on representations of a specific theatrical form: the marionette theatre. It investigates the depictions of marionettes in Carter’s short story, ‘The Loves of Lady Purple’ from Fireworks: Nine Profane Pieces (1974) and her novel, The Magic Toyshop (1967), in the light of Carter’s repudiation of naturalism, both theatrical and fictional. Drawing on Peter Brook’s categories of the theatre as deadly, holy and rough, as advanced in his 1968 classic, The Empty Space, and taking the marionette theatre as exemplary of Carter’s interest in non-naturalistic demotic theatrical forms, this chapter situates her depictions of marionettes within specific cultural traditions of puppetry, as well as the literary history of the animate puppet and the ‘man or marionette’ debate central to the twentieth-century European theatrical avant-garde.

Keywords:   theatre, music hall, Wise Children, performance

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