Probably contemporaneous with the beginnings of theatre, puppets unclose essential qualitiesof theatre not least because of their semiophoric significance, i.e "the relationship between the materialand the immaterial in the theatrical event, both in terms of the action on stage as well as in their Geneticand Paratheatrical components".1 In a city like Salzburg, a salient site for puppet theatre, given its traditionof the 'Salzburg Hanswurst' back to the late seventeenth century and its internationally acclaimed stringpuppetopera productions of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, in 2016 included in the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, this conference aims to chart the status quo of research on puppet theatreand foster interdisciplinary engagement with puppets in World Theatre.
Puppets are a universal phenomenon that appears in all cultures.
Varying in size from the miniscule to thecolossal, puppetry is of an enormous diversity: from rounded (the string puppet or the marionette, therod-puppet, the hand- or glove-puppet, the finger-puppet) to flat (the shadow-show, the toy or papertheatre); from 'living' marionettes and bodies fastened to performers, to 'held' puppets (Japanese Bunrakutheatre), puppets come in all shapes and sizes.
Carnival puppets are large puppets, typically bigger than a human, designed to be part of a large spectacle or parade.
The movements of animals may be compared with those of automatic puppets, which are set going on the occasion of a tiny movement; the levers are released, and strike the twisted strings against one another.