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On the Marionette Theatre

On the Marionette Theatre

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Published by Vladimir Novosel
On The Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist
(Translated by Idris Parry)
On The Marionette Theatre by Heinrich von Kleist
(Translated by Idris Parry)

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Published by: Vladimir Novosel on Jan 12, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/13/2010

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OntheMarionetteTheatr
byHeinrichvonKleis
TranslatedbyIdrisParr
 
Oneeveninginthewinterof1801Imetanoldfriendinapublipark.Hehadrecentlybeenappointedprincipaldanceratthelocal theatreandwasenjoyingimmensepopularitywiththeaudiences.toldhimIhadbeensurprisedtoseehimmorethanonceatthemarionettetheatrewhichhadbeenputupinthemarket-placetoentertaithepublicwithdramaticburlesquesinterspersedwithsonganddanceHeassuredmethatthemutegesturesofthesepuppetsgavehimmucsatisfactionandtoldmebluntlythatanydancerwhowishedtoperfechisartcouldlearnalotfromthemFromthewayhesaidthisIcouldseeitwasn'tsomethingwhichadjustcomeintohismind,soIsatdowntoquestionhimmorcloselyabouthisreasonsforthisremarkableassertionHeaskedmeifIhadn'tinfactfoundsomeofthedancemovementofthepuppets(andparticularlyofthesmallerones)verygracefulThisIcouldn'tdeny.Agroupoffourpeasantsdancingtherondoiquicktimecouldn'thavebeenpaintedmoredelicatelybyTeniersIinquiredaboutthemechanismofthesegures.Iwantedtoknohowitispossible,withouthavingamazeofstringsattachedtoone'ngers,tomovetheseparatelimbsandextremitiesintherhythm ofthedance.HisanswerwasthatImustnotimagineeachlimasbeingindividuallypositionedandmovedbytheoperatorinthe variousphasesofthedance.Eachmovement,hetoldme,hasitcentreofgravity;itisenoughtocontrolthiswithinthepuppet.The limbs,whichareonlypendulums,thenfollowmechanicallyoftheiownaccord,withoutfurtherhelp.Headdedthatthismovementiverysimple.Whenthecentreofgravityismovedinastraightlinethelimbsdescribecurves.OftenshakeninapurelyhaphazardwaythepuppetfallsintoakindofrhythmicmovementwhichresembledanceThisobservationseemedtometothrowsomelightatlastonthe 
 
enjoymenthesaidhegotfromthemarionettetheatre,butIwasfafromguessingtheinferenceshewoulddrawfromitlaterIaskedhimifhethoughttheoperatorwhocontrolsthesepuppetshouldhimselfbeadanceroratleasthavesomeideaofbeautyithedance.Herepliedthatifajobistechnicallyeasyitdoesn'tfollow thatitcanbedoneentirelywithoutsensitivity.Thelinethecentrofgravityhastofollowisindeedverysimple,andinmostcases,he believed,straight.Whenitiscurved,thelawofitscurvatureseemstbeattheleastoftherstandatthemostofthesecondorder.Eveinthelattercasethelineisonlyelliptical,aformofmovementnatural tothehumanbodybecauseofthejoints,sothishardlydemandsangreatskillfromtheoperator.But,seenfromanotherpointofviewthislinecouldbesomethingverymysterious.Itisnothingotherthan thepathtakenbythesoulofthedancer.Hedoubtedifthiscoulbefoundunlesstheoperatorcantransposehimselfintothecentreof gravityofthemarionette.Inotherwords,theoperatordancesIsaidtheoperator'spartinthebusinesshadbeenrepresentedtmeassomethingwhichcanbedoneentirelywithoutfeeling-ratheliketurningthehandleofabarrel-organNotatall,hesaid.Infact,there'sasubtlerelationshipbe- tweenthemovementsofhisngersandthemovementsofthepuppetattachedtothem,somethingliketherelationshipbetweennumberandtheirlogarithmsorbetweenasymptoteandhyperbola.Yethe didbelievethislasttraceofhumanvolitioncouldberemovedfrom themarionettesandtheirdancetransferredentirelytotherealmof mechanicalforces,evenproduced,asIhadsuggested,byturninghandle. ItoldhimIwasastonishedattheattentionhewaspayingtothivulgarspeciesofanartform.Itwasn'tjustthathethoughtitcapablofloftierdevelopment;heseemedtobeworkingtothisendhimself

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