5. Extreme Puppet Theater as a Tool for Writing Pedagogy

Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice - Mark Spitzer

Mark Spitzer [+-]
University of Central Arkansas
Mark Spitzer is Associate Professor of Creative Writing in the Department of Film, Theatre, and Creative Writing at the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of 18 books, ranging from memoirs to novels to literary translations and collections of poetry. He is the editor of the award-winning Toad Suck Review (toadsuckreview.org), a professor of creative writing, an authority on the notorious gar fish (See River Monsters, alligator gar episode), and the world expert on the poetry of Jean Genet. Other recent titles include the poetry collection, Inflammatosis: Polemic Poetry, Incendiary Prose, and Other Extremes of Love and War (Six Gallery Press, 2018); the young adult and children’s literature title, The Crabby Old Gar (Subversive Muse Press, 2018); the novel, Viva Arletty! Our Lady of the Egrets (Six Gallery Press, 2017); the nonfiction work, Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West (University of Nebraska Press, 2017); the literary translation The Genet Translations: Poetry and Posthumous Plays (Polemic Press, 2015), and the memoir, After the Octopus (Black Mountain Press, 2014).


First published in Writing & Pedagogy, this chapter extrapolates on creative writing pedagogy theories of Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice and Dr. François Camoin that speak to the transformative possibilities of engaging in writing activities that make learning an experience. I then segue to the concept of “Extreme Puppet Theatre,” which I regularly practice. I explain how this technique, which I developed in American literature and environmental courses, can be applied to all educational levels and diverse disciplines of education. The criteria for grading dramatic productions with puppets that students create in group situations is discussed, especially in regard to eco- and/or political issues that provide sophisticated focuses for mock talk-show dialogues which provide alternatives to standard argumentative approaches. Writers Edward Abbey, Rachel Carson, Gary Snyder and Sam Shepard are discussed and provided as examples of ways to approach this specific approach. Saturday Night Live skits are used as models for group work.

Notify A Colleague


Spitzer, Mark. 5. Extreme Puppet Theater as a Tool for Writing Pedagogy. Investigative Creative Writing - Teaching and Practice. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jan 2020. ISBN 9781781797181. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=34894. Date accessed: 14 Oct 2019 doi: 10.1558/equinox.34894. Jan 2020

Dublin Core Metadata