‘Popular heroes in the living tradition of the European puppet theatre. Euromarionnettes was born out of the cooperation between the Figure Theatre Centre and three institutions which have operated for years studying, promoting and developing the Figure Theatre: the Institut del Teatre of Barcelona (Spain); the Institut de la Marionnette of Charleville MŽzires (France); the Czankariev Dom of Ljubliana (Slovenia). The first iconographic traces of the Figure Theatre in Europe date back to the Middle Ages. In that same period, a common humanistic culture spread from south to north, from the Atlantic to the Balkans. A modern idea of Europe began to take shape in the Palaces, in the industrious towns, in the churches and in the universities. In the courtyards, in front of the churches, in the market squares, the people were busily engaged in trading. In these places lie the deep roots of the Commedia dell’Arte, of the road theatre, of the storytellers, the acrobats and puppets. Through the language of gesture, of ferocious satire and buffoonery, a strong school of play-acting was born, capable of performing before audiences of every kind. The puppets, with their “castles” earn a living by making fun of the rich and powerful, castigating their faults and the vices of the nobles and middle-class, entertaining generations on end of adults, children, peasants and town-folk. Now as frontiers open and the birth of a new Europe of nations and peoples appears a concrete reality, the popular old wooden heroes are off once again along with their multicoloured huts. They bring with them their usual old impudence, some roguery and lots of fun. The origin of these figures-protagonists is confused with the birth and popularity of the various carnival masks which range from the medieval Karaghiòz of Turkey, to the Renaissance Pulcinella of Naples, to the 18th-cent. Punch of England and the 19th-cent. Vitez Laszlo of Hungary. The repertoire has common roots sanctioned by the Commedia dell’Arte, but developed in different and original ways. Generally speaking, performances last about 30 minutes and consist of brief and astonishing stories, all related the one to the other. There is always a protagonist who coincides with the popular hero of that particular area of culture and folklore and a series of antagonists (the woman, the policeman, the country yokel, the judge, the executioner, the devil, death, etc.) against whom the hero fights amid funny gags and speedy movements. The script is always understandable, because the language of gesture prevails. The puppet masters use special instruments of the trade to create such gestures: from rods to reeds (used to make the protagonist talk, with archaic and comic sound effects). The technique everyone uses is that of the glove puppet, worn from below, on both hands by the puppet master and his assistants. Stage scenery is reduced to the minimum, and everyone works inside the castle (or hut). The castle is in effect a real fully-accessorised and self-sufficient theatre. The exhibition, staged as a side show to the programme of performances, is the result of our work on the traditions so far described and presents huts and puppets belonging to many different traditions. The exhibition is completed with explanatory notes on the various figures. A video corner has been set up to provide more in-depth information on the topic in an enjoyable manner and to see the puppets and their “heroes” at work.’


18 Agosto 1996 - 24 Agosto 1996


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions