From Poppentje to Jan Turpijn. Puppet Theatre in the Low Countries
(Jos Nijhof) The Low Countries - 2007, № 15, pp. 189-196
It should come as no surprise that the famous story of Pinocchio the marionette by the Italian author Carlo Collodi has become the standard that is constantly used to demonstrate the nature of puppet theatre. A piece of wood that becomes human, lifeless material that gains a soul – through the agency of a creator and the imagination of the viewer – this is the essence of an age-old form of theatre that is still able to enthral children and adults to this very day. It is not only the effect of this mythical power, but also the universal nature of the Pinocchio story, informed after all by the classic struggle between good and evil, that enables one to recognise the riches that puppet theatre (past and present) offers. For most of the puppets in Flanders and the Netherlands a lifespan of one or at most two seasons on the stage is all that is feasible. But any spectator who is struck by their appearance – as a puppet, a mask, a piece of fabric, or a bare hand – will remember that image for a long time afterwards. There is after all no other form of theatre that is able to suggest so much with so few means and to stimulate the mind with so much subtlety. It is precisely in this respect that the ‘traditional' puppet theatre has so much more to offer the audience than modern computer animation. So it does not seem too daring to suppose that the spell puppet theatre has cast over children and adults for centuries will not fail of its effect in generations to come
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