The World Epics in Puppet Theater: India, Iran, Japan, Italy project consists of scholarly encounters and puppet theater performances designed to foster intellectual exchange and public awareness about four epic traditions and their continued elaboration in puppetry arts. It also aims to feature contemporary puppeteers who use the dramatic capabilities of theater to present, question, and reinvent epic narratives across languages, cultures, religions, and territories.

The project is part of the Columbia University Humanities War & Peace Initiative, which “fosters the study of war and peace from the perspective of scholars in the Humanities, in conversation with colleagues from around Columbia and the world […] with an ultimate goal of perpetuating a more peaceful world.”

Academic committee: Jo Ann Cavallo (Columbia University), organizer; Olga M. Davidson (Boston University); Claudia Orenstein (Hunter College, CUNY; UNIMA-USA); Elizabeth Oyler (University of Pittsburgh); Paula Richman (Oberlin College); and Poupak Azimpour Tabrizi (University of Tehran, Iran).

Co-sponsors of the mini-symposium: the Humanities War and Peace Initiative, through the Division of Humanities in the Arts & Sciences at Columbia University; the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture, Columbia University; the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette “Antonio Pasqualino” in Palermo, Italy; the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, University of Connecticut; the Puppet Arts Program, Department of Dramatic Arts, University of Connecticut; the University of Pittsburgh; and UNIMA-USA.

For the latest information about the project (including videos of the mini-symposium, the Q&As with the puppeteers, and select performances) as well as further suggested resources, see the World Epics in Puppet Theater project page.